Five more killed as bandits make a joke of State’s tough warnings

The convoy of Eldume Internally displaced Persons (IDP) along Kiserian -Mukutani road returned to Mkutani village in Baringo south on October 3, 2018. [File, Sytandard]

Five people have been killed and animals stolen in the latest banditry attacks.

Three were killed in Kasiela, Baringo South, one in Tiaty and another in Baringo North. Insecurity in the North Rift has continued to persist with government efforts to carry out disarmament failing to bear fruits.

Gun-wielding bandits have over the years terrorised residents, killing, maiming and stealing livestock.

A number of times the government has issued ultimatums to illegal firearm holders with threats of forceful disarmament that have never borne fruit.

The bandits have over the years defied the order, with few or at times no firearm handed over to the government.

In June 2013, after taking over the Interior ministry docket, Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku directed the resumption of the disarmament exercise in warring pastoralist communities to recover illegal arms.

On July 13, 2013, while on a tour of Baragoi, Lenku talked tough and gave bandits a two-week ultimatum to surrender 48 firearms stolen during the Suguta valley massacre or suffer forceful disarmament.

On November 2014, the massacre of 21 police officers at Kapedo in Baringo County sparked debate over disarmament decrees issued by top security agents that are not followed through.

On June 2015, then Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo issued a shoot-to-kill order against bandits, arsonists, cattle rustlers and those illegally in possession of firearms after retired Loruk chief Wilson Chebungei was shot by bandits and businesses razed.

In January 2021, the government began a disarmament operation in Tiaty, after the killing of at least 10 people around Kapedo. Among those killed were General Service Unit operations commissioner Emadau Tebakol, Chief Inspector Moses Lekariab and a driver, Constable Benson Kaburu.

Following the killings, an operation that lasted for eight weeks started on January 18. On March 23, it was halted as local leaders pleaded with the government to allow them to conduct a peace campaign in the region.

In early February 2022, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i ordered for the immediate operation to flush out criminals in the North Rift. Dr Matiang’i said aerial surveillance was to be applied in the area. He ordered for immediate recruitment of National Police Reservists.

He said the Government will deploy more resources and had agreed with the IG to have additional resources to end insecurity.

Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho held a meeting with the leaders from Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot in Nakuru.

Mutyambai said the National Police Service was committed to offering a solution, adding that five formation units have been added separating the Pokots and Marakwets.

Speaking in Baringo during a security meeting, Baringo North MP William Cheptumo said it appeared the Government was not committed to ending insecurity in the region. He said the Government had confirmed having names of the criminals, but had not taken any step to have them arrested and prosecuted.

“That makes me feel the Government is not interested in dealing with the issue,” he said.

Baringo Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony said many people have lost their families and it is time the issue is addressed once and for all.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mohamed Maalim on Thursday while in a meeting with Baringo leaders and security team confirmed the government has profiled and has the names of the criminals.

“We have pleaded with the criminals several times to surrender the illegal firearms but none heeded to the call. We will carry out forceful disarmament. We will do our work as the Government,” Mr Mohamed said.

He said the process of recruiting National Police Reservists is underway and some have been vetted and names forwarded to the Inspector General of Police.

Lucheku Likaka, a security consultant at Expertise Criminologique Limited said the disarmament exercise has not been effective.

“The problem with disarmament can never be effective because of our porous border and the Government is absent by design,” he said.

The current banditry, he said, is about business and not culture. The government, he said, need to empower the locals and not just deploying police officers.

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