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Raila denied entry into Shakahola mass gravesite

Police in Friday denied Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga and local MPs entry into Shakahola mass gravesite.

The opposition leader was accompanied accompanied by MPs Amina Mnyanzi (Malindi), Harrison Kombe (Magarini) and Gertrude Mbeyu (Kilifi Woman Rep).

Security officers declined to allow Mr Odinga into the forest with the operation commander asking him to seek permission from the Inspector General, saying that it is a disturbed area and a security operation zone.

The entourage was forced to wait for two hours as they made calls to the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki seeking permission to be allowed into the crime scene.

But according to the opposition leader, he only intended to condole with Kenyans who had lost relatives there and see the graves.

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“I want to access the forest so that I can be able to see the graves. I can’t travel all the way and go back without seeing the scene,” Mr Odinga said.

The commander however said the area has been declared a crime scene and allowing him through could interfere with the ongoing investigations.

“No one is allowed in the forest because the (investigation) process is delicate,” said the senior assistant inspector general of police.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki listed Shakahola forest as a disturbed area and security operation zone last month.

Detectives are digging up mass graves on an 800-acre piece of land linked to cult leader Paul Mackenzie. He is accused of convincing hundreds of people to starve themselves to death, by fasting, in order to see God.

Also read: Wetangula urges CS Kindiki to allow media access to Shakahola

On Friday, President William Ruto formed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Shakahola cult deaths that have shocked the country.

According to the gazette notice, the Commission of Inquiry will prepare a report and submit its recommendation to President Ruto within six months.

The commission will be required to receive views from members of the public and also oral or written statements from any person with relevant information. It shall also summon any person concerned to testify on oath and to produce any books or documents that may require.

The commission will hold the inquiry in public but may hold private hearings if necessary and shall exercise power conferred on it by law for the proper execution of its mandate, including the power to require cooperation from public officers and institutions.

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