31 October 2013, News Wires – A Kenyan member of parliament has reportedly denied inciting a riot during a recent protest at a Tullow Oil drill site that authorities say resulted in looting and destruction of property.
The UK-based explorer halted its operations in Turkana County at the Twiga 1 drill site after the demonstration.
Turkana South MP James Lomenen is due to appear in court on Friday to be formally charged with incitement and robbery with violence, he told Reuters. Lomonen denies the accusations.
The government said Lomenen led a group of about 400 people to the drill site who broke down the fence and “engaged in wanton destruction of property and looting”.
Lomenen said the demonstrators were peaceful and said he prevented any violence, although he said those involved had been “very furious” at Tullow for not giving them enough jobs or contracts.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said there was no evidence of bias in Tullow Oil’s hiring practices given more than 800 of its 1400 employees were from Turkana.
The minister also said the government was investigating allegations that Lomenen had a vested interest in tenders coming from Tullow Oil, a claim dismissed by Lomenen who said he did not operate a company.