State urged to send KDF in conflict-torn Laikipia

Friday, September 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Residents of Laikipia west in Olmoran Kasarani area flee their homes after bandits attacked and burnt their homes, yesterday. Photo/PD/Rapheal Munge

Hillary Mageka and David Macharia

Governors and senators now want the government to deploy Kenya Defence Forces to Laikipia county to reinforce a multi-agency team from the National Police Service already in the violence-hit region.

 Speaking separately, county chiefs and senators said it was a shame that Kenyans were being massacred in Laikipa yet no permanent solution has been found to deal with the menace.

 Senators asked the government to bring a motion to Parliament to approve deployment of the army, terming the skirmishes as atrocious and totally unconscionable. 

Calls for deployment of the military in the restive county came as Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai promised to restore peace in the area within a week. 

“Our focus will now shift to areas outside the ranches and conservancies. This is because our security forces have flushed out most of illegal herders,” said the IG.

Mutyambai spoke at Mirigwit Primary School, which armed bandits attempted to burn.

He said the violence hotspots, particularly the entire Ol Moran division will be secured.

“We are urging residents to return to their homes in the secured areas as the operation continues.

We have so far secured most parts in the Ol Moran settlement and we are continually beefing up security in the area. There have not been attacks in the past two days,” said Mutyambai

Air and ground surveillance security teams were evident with several helicopters circling the sky. 

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya disclosed that learning had been affected in at least five schools after residents fled their homes in fear of attacks.  

So far, 10 people have been killed and countless families displaced over the last two weeks even as armed bandits continued to conduct raids, which have adversely affected the community leading to a humanitarian crisis.

Ample time

“Let the government bring any motion to this House so that we are able to approve the deployment of the army.

Before we do that, we must explain why the police have not succeeded in fighting the bandits,” Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said.  

Nominated Senator Naomi Waqo piled pressure on the government to deploy KDF, saying it is their responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Kenyans.

“We must bring to a stop the insecurity in Laikipia. This is not felt and not seen in many parts of the country.

Sometimes I wonder if it is the same government that is facilitating the war and the conflict at the grassroots,” said Waqo, also the vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal and Human rights.

 Wetang’ula and Waqo were reacting to a statement sought by Laikipia Senator John Kinyua on the skirmishes.

 “What we need is the operation of KDF to flash out bandits, which must be total and sustained; increase in the number of police services; deployment of more police offices and restoration of livelihood of the residents,” said Kinyua.

On their part, governors backed the calls to have KDF deployed to flash out armed bandits that have taken over the region.

 “Council of Governors vehemently condemns the gross violation of human rights by the bandits, who are causing a lot of mayhem in Laikipia.

It is equally worrying and alarming the ease with which firearms are being accessed by bandits and militants who are causing undue unrest to residents,” Council of Governors chairman and Embu Governor Martin Wambora told journalists at Delta House, Nairobi.

 “In view of the foregoing, CoG has proposed deployment of military personnel to reinforce the Kenya Police, who are already on the ground to a quick end on the ongoing deadly attacks in Laikipia.

We ask the national government, as a matter of urgency, arrest and prosecute individuals behind the skirmishes,” Wambora added.

 Governors also pushed for a comprehensive mechanism for disarmament and a long-term solution for communities living within the Suguta valley triangle.

 Suguta valley triangle includes Laikipia, Samburu, Baringo, Isiolo, Marsabit, West Pokot and Turkana counties. 

Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok regretted that the bandit attacks in Laikipia have led to loss of lives and displacement of communities, among them the Turkana community living in Ngarenarock, Bombo, Ngisero, Mtaro villages in Olmoran/Sipili Ward; and Magadi in Sosian ward.

Hardened criminals

“Reports indicate that the bandits responsible for the attacks in Laikipia are a spillover from the security operation that was conducted in Kapedo, which further points to a group of hardened criminals who roam this area disrupting peace and spreading violence from Baringo, Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet to Samburu and now Laikipia,” Nanok said in a statement.

 County boss said it is time the government deals with the vice and end the vicious cycle of violence, displacement, cattle theft and death.

 National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi urged the government to take firm action against those fueling the clashes in Laikipia.

 Muturi urged security agents to get to the root of the matter and bring those culpable to book and have them charged.

Meanwhile, as section of MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto demanded that Mutyambai resigns over the Laikipia skirmishes.

The 13 MPs accused the police of laxity in the violent conflict in Laikipia and humanitarian suffering it has caused. 

“He has proven himself more than willing and able to take up partisan political errands and continues to demonstrate lacklustre motivation to address matters affecting Kenyans that fall within his core mandate,” the MPs said in a joint statement read by Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

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