Mombasa lock down: Day of drama as President Uhuru and Governor Joho’s fallout escalates

President Uhuru and DP William Ruto during the commissioning of the refurbished Mtongwe Ferry and (R)Mombasa Governor Joho in a fierce argument with GSU officers at the Nyali Bridge road block

A tweet from Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s aide on Sunday is said to have sparked a massive security operation that barred Mr. Joho from a presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday 13th March.

The tweet said the governor would ‘respond ‘to the President’s criticism at the Tononoka rally. What followed was a

massive security operation that involved heavily armed General Service Unit, presidential guards, Kenya Police, forest rangers and plainclothes detectives.

The security forces had firm instructions to keep Joho and his supporters from Uhuru's function at the Likoni Ferry Channel.

The operation led to a lock-down of the coastal city. County traffic marshals were ordered off the streets as armed officers took over.

State officials confided to The Standard that they had express orders to bar Joho from leaving his Nyali home across Nyali Bridge and bar him and his supporters from crossing to the South Coast until the President's function was over.

An officer who asked not to be named told The Standard that presidential guards were among the team involved in the operation against the governor.

At the function to launch a ferry at Mtongwe, Uhuru accused Joho of trailing him like "his wife" and "chest thumping to appear a hero by attacking the President."

"They should stop following me. I am not his wife. He should come here and explain what he has done for this country," an agitated Uhuru told residents of Mtongwe, adding that "he (Joho) should not play with us or we will teach him a lesson."

The governor had earlier accused the security personnel of orchestrating "backwardness of the highest level" by ordering his confinement in his office and stopping him from attending the launch of a ferry service across the Mtongwe channel near the Mombasa port.

Meanwhile, the lock-down led to a massive traffic snarl-up especially on Nyali Bridge as the police, with sniffer dogs, stopped vehicles for a search, apparently looking for the governor.

Joho had earlier managed to slip through the GSU barricade at his residence. Speaking later to journalists, he revealed how he managed to get into town in a private vehicle which was eventually impounded at the bridge.

"I was in a private car belonging to a relative but could not go far due to an unusual traffic snarl up occasioned by police checks. They (police) managed to even stop my official vehicle but only found the driver as I had used alternative means," he said.

At the bridge a standoff and war of words ensued between Joho and Mombasa Urban Directorate of Criminal Investigation Offficer (DCIO), Jacob Kanake, who led the team of officers manning the bridge, when governor was barred from moving into town.

"Do not threaten me officer. Do not threaten me with death because everybody is born once and dies once," Joho who was accompanied by his chief of staff Idriss Abdulrahman said as tempers flared amid pushing and shoving.

Joho, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Kisauni legislator Rashid Bedzimba engaged in a bitter exchange with Kanake and his officers.

Youths gathered at the scene and began shouting "stop harassing our governor!"

Joho and the MPs slipped into a private vehicle. Moments later, he entered the city on a motorcycle and addressed journalists in his office which was also surrounded by armed policemen.

Addressing journalists, Joho said he was not trying to impose himself on Uhuru's function, but felt he was duty-bound to attend the Mtongwe function to represent the people of Mombasa as their governor.

He said he also needed to be at the function to respond to "falsehoods and lies" he alleged the president peddled against him and his administration during the Tononoka rally.

"The reason they did not want us to attend was because they felt we could get an opportunity to respond to the falsehoods and lies," he said.