Leaders: Reinstate reservists urgently, banditry is worsening

A police reservist in action at the Tiaty-Baringo South border. The reservists were disarmed last month.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Elgeyo Marakwet leaders want the State to reinstate about 350 National Police Reservists (NPR) disarmed last month.

Led by governor Alex Tolgos and senator Kipchumba Murkomen, the leaders said cases of insecurity have risen sharply since the reservists were ordered to surrender their weapons for vetting last month.

Governor Tolgos said withdrawal of NPRs had exposed the volatile region to banditry attacks, leading to several deaths and livestock theft in areas bordering Baringo and West Pokot counties.

“The NPR are better placed to fight banditry and have the capacity to arrest and hand over notorious rustlers to the police,” said Tolgos.

He further appealed to the State to pay the reservists arguing that they are legal entities recognized by the National Police Service Act.

Senator Murkomen accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i of reversing measures put in place to end banditry in Kerio Valley region by former CS, Joseph Nkaissery in 2017.

Murkomen questioned why the reservists, whose recruitment was commissioned by the State and overseen by Deputy President William Ruto, the late Nkaissery and former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet were withdrawn without an explanation from the Interior ministry.

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“We want Matiang’i and IG [Hillary Mutyambai] to stop chasing politicians and use the same energy to pursue bandits and tame insecurity in Kerio Valley,” said Murkomen.

The senator claimed the police reservists were withdrawn for political reasons.

“We can’t run a security policy that is based on the whims and wishes of the person running the office,” said Murkomen.

“If it (withdrawal of (NPR) can not be explained we can only imagine that it was a political decision,” he said.

Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen claimed that two people were killed by bandits in Kaben village in Kerio Valley last week and blamed the deaths on the withdrawal of the reservists. He further claimed that three students have been killed in the last one month.

“I have now been reduced to an MP who buries victims of banditry attacks every week,” said Mr Bowen.

However, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mwongo Chimwaga accused the leaders of politicising the issue.

“The matter is with the Directorate of NPR and I don’t have details on when they (police reservists) will reinstated,” Mr Chimwaga.

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National Police ReservistsElgeyo MarakwetAlex TolgosHillary Mutyambai