Arrest gang behind Kerio clashes, residents urge State
Winstone Chiseremi @Wchiseremi
Families affected by land clashes in Kerio Valley that led to the displacement of more than 200 people now want the government to arrest and prosecute perpetrators.
The families who are camping along the escarpment for fear of fresh attacks have accused the government for taking too long to apprehend the criminals.
The affected villages where hundreds of families have been forced to flee their homes due to frequent land conflicts are Kasagur, Kasegei Kapsiren, Kabisyoi, Ketut, Katemuge, Karel, Kapkaw, Kabasiran and Kapkeny.
Led by Joshua Chelang’a, the displaced victims said they were living in fear following threats of fresh attack on them from the criminal gang which they claimed was working in cohorts with some disgruntled chiefs and police officers who hail from the affected villages.
“We are wondering why the government has not arrested any one in connection with last week’s displacement and torching of our houses, maize and millet granaries leading to losses worth over Sh5 million,” said Chelang’a.
While lauding the interdiction of two chiefs with 40 police officers lined up for disciplinary action for allegedly abetting the ongoing land conflicts in Marakwet East that has led to deaths and destruction of property, the residents called for the arrest and prosecution of the criminal gang.
Selinah Chesir, one of the affected residents, said women, children and the elderly have been forced to spend nights in the cold in fear of fresh arson attacks.
The fear comes in the wake of last Friday’s killing where one person and several others escaped with bullet and arrow wounds following fights between warring clans in the region over land related conflicts.
“Why is it taking the government long to apprehend the criminal gang behind frequent land conflicts in the region yet they are well known to the community?
We have even given their names to the authority but no action has been taken so far,” said Pamela Cheserek who was displaced from her three-bedroom house that was set ablaze.
She has urged the government to provide them with shelter, food and medicine saying they were suffering and might contract more diseases if their plight is not be addressed.
Elgeyo Marakwet County Commissioner Ahmed Omar assured the affected families that there was no cause for alarm as the government was in control of the situation in the affected areas.
He said disciplinary action has been taken against police officers for their complicity in the matter while four chiefs have been interdicted over what he termed conflict of interest.
“We have deployed additional police officers in the areas that have been hit by land-related conflicts to facilitate the return of displaced families to reconstruct their homes,” said Omar.
He admitted that some chiefs and police officers have been lax in restoring law and order in the affected areas along the Valley which has led to the killings of innocent people.
“It is unfortunate that the disgruntled chiefs and the police officers have been leaking information to their respective clans about the government efforts to quell the land clashes.
They have also been among the planners of the attacks on their rival clans and in some instance, ambushing police officers responding to distress calls,” said Omar.
The government, he said has taken action against chiefs who have been hiding criminals within the villages instead of volunteering information that would lead to their arrests.
Omar said most of the police officers implicated in the clashes are those born within Marakwet community and are serving in the same area but assured that they are lined up for disciplinary action.