More required of State on Baragoi police massacre

Thank you Mr President for the rapid deployment of the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) to ferret out the heavily-armed cattle rustlers who killed more than 40 police officers and stole their firearms.

While the country seethed with rage over the apparent inaction of relevant state organs, the national Security Council that brings together the Ministers for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Internal Security, the Attorney General, Defence Forces Chief, Director of National Intelligence Services and Commissioner of Police met and crafted a way forward.

And co-opting Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, decision was made to finally confront the livestock theft trade head-on and hopefully, bring the culprits to book.

Obviously, this is not a congregation that sits often under one roof and roundtable unless a matter of national security is on the cards. And several scenarios must have been presented and weighed.

Granted police are not one body that attracts accolades or sympathy often, but nonetheless, we still feel this is just one of the quick-fire responses that needed to have been taken in the face of the nationwide outrage. It will not be easy and shall be opposed from many quarters, legally and by busybodies.

Shall the country also brace itself for an independent public inquiry into the assault that has left very many homes and villages grieving? We certainly hope so.

Reason? There are many lessons to be learned from this debacle that should form the basis of long-term tactical or strategic debate and policing curriculum development.

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OBJECTIVE ARBITER

The inquiry should be independent like the one that went to probe the Tana Delta killings, simply because the Police Service cannot be expected to be an objective arbiter if it was allowed to investigate its own. This will also put to rest what Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told journalists on Tuesday that his officers were lured to their deaths.

In his words: “The operational strategy was okay, but...they were ambushed two kilometers from the manyatta they were headed to recover the animals. It appears the strategy leaked to the bandits”.

Does this point to some rotten apples among the boots that hit the ground on that fateful day? Is there truth to speculation that there are powerful, cartels with deep pockets and influence literally making a killing under the cover of inter-community livestock rustling?

Is it true that stock thefts increase whenever bride price in live animals is raised? Who constituted the team that Okayed the operation? How watertight and detailed was the Intelligence they had prior to the call to arms? Basically, who knew what, when, and where?

Such an inquest could also be the source of fodder for the Nation Police Oversight Authority, the Agenda Four reforms teams and security commanders as to what arms, vehicles, amenities, incentives and logistical support is required in operational areas such as arid, semi-arid and borderline counties.

Without doubt, there are very many members of the uniformed services, friends and families that are currently assailed by psychological trauma. Like all professional, they need assurances, reassurances, appreciation and recognition.

They are demanding clear, unambiguous answers. These families have a right to a psychological support programme. We have seen instances of such initiatives such as a joint prayer service, and high-profile burials ceremonies such as those performed when the late minister Bonaya Godana died while spearheading a peace mission.

Others would be a ceremonial send-off for those injured and can no longer serve actively, and compensation for dependants who are left adrift on the turbulent seas of life.

HEARTS AND MINDS

So, where are the clerics and family support groups that should have immediately rushed in to fill the void in the hearts and minds of the families of these young heroes who graduated recently, so full of vigour and promise? Have Divisional police heads already visited the various homes to condole the families and friends of their departed colleagues?

While we are not in the business of warcraft, we can ask this: As the military, fresh from its sterling performance in Somalia where they won the hearts and minds of the civilian population as they engaged brainwashed religious zealots in armed combat and psychological warfare, can the Suguta Valley excursion be made a lasting example against anyone else that will be foolish enough to take up arms against fellow citizens?

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Kenyan Defence Forces Baragoi massacrepolice