By Ally Jamah
Turkana County MPs from left: Josephat Nanok, Ekwe Ethuro and John Munyes. [Photo: Martin Mukangu/Standard]
Members of Parliament from Turkana County have vehemently opposed the decision by the National Security Council (NSC) to send the military to Turkana and Samburu Counties following the killing of at 42 police officers by Cattle rustlers in Suguta Valley.
Labour minister and MP Turkana North John Munyes, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Josphat Nanok (Turkana South) and Ekwe Ethuro(Turkana Central) have said that the President Kibaki will take full responsibility as the Commander in Chief for any human rights violations that will be wrought on innocent people who may be tortured.
They added: “This military deployment is ill-advised because it is a testimony that our internal security apparatus have failed. Innocent people are running away from their homes and schools out fear of the military.”
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“We have always said that the military should be deployed along the border with Ethiopia and Uganda where Kenyans face constant attacks from bandits from neighbouring countries,” said Munyes at Parliament Buildings.
“To send the military to Baragoi is to overthrow the constitution. Parliament has also not given a go ahead for the military to be deployed. “We are prepared to launch a legal battle in any court of justice locally and internationally” said Ethuro.
Nanok said: why was the Kenya Defence Forces not used when innocent Turkanas were massacred recently at Todonyang by suspected Merille bandit from Ethiopia?”
The MPs have called for the immediate resignation of the Acting Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia as well as police Commissioner Matthew Iteere for the failure in the operation that resulted in the death of at 42 police officers.
They suggested that the operation was poorly planned and executed claiming that “”Samburu warriors” were allowed to be part of the “partisan” police operations against the rustlers from the Turkana community
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“The police were not going to pursue cattle rustlers. They were going to raid a certain Turkana Manyatta. The Turkana decided, no, they should confront the officers in the valley to protect their children and families, Let’s face the facts,” said Munyes
“The government should have waited for all of us to go there to retrieve the stolen cows peacefully instead of launching a partisan security operation,” said Munyes.
He added: “They should also have used the local leadership to persuade the people to return the cattle on both sides. But nobody wanted to use that approach.”
They called for a Judicial Inquiry into the operation claiming that it was influenced by an MP from a rival community to score political points against the Turkana.
The three MPs lamented that many cases of cattle rustling continue to paralyse life in the remote regions with the government doing little to arrest the situation. They added that since September 27 this year, at least six cattle rustling incidents have occurred in the same area
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“Our voices have always fallen on deaf ears as minimal action if any has been taken. And when some action it is just for public relations,” said Nanok.
The MPs set their condolences to the families of the 42 police officers who lost their lives in the botched operation in Suguta Valley saying “we are greatly pained to have lost such a high number of officers and civilians.”
Ethuro said that disarmament in the area was a solution to the insecurity explaining that economic neglect and marginalisation lies at the root of the problem in terms of infrastructure.