Restore security in bandit-hit Laikipia now, senators urge State

One of the classrooms that were set ablaze in Mirigwit Primary School in Ol Moran, Laikipia County. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Senators have urged the government to restore security in Laikipia County.

Led by Laikipia Senator John Kinyua, the legislators called for urgency and enough personnel towards restoring law and order.

The senators demanded that the police be well-armed to deal with the clashes and expressed concerns over remarks by Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya that the bandits are armed with sophisticated weapons like the M16.

Senator Kinyua faulted the government's reaction, saying it made things worse by publicly announcing that the bandits are better armed.

“It’s a bigger shame that the national government has gone on record to admit that the bandits are better armed compared to the national police service,” he said.

He added, “With that unfortunate admission the bandits have turned the county into their playground torching houses and schools."

Kinyua warned that things are getting out of hand. According to him, hundreds of people have fled their homes in pursuit of safety with others nursing multiple bullet wounds as more become homeless.

He said it is regrettable that while some leaders are putting efforts to bring development and improve livestock production, others have continued with the archaic tradition of killing and stealing livestock.

“It’s a shame that bandits have taken over. They are stealing, killing and displacing in order to occupy what is not theirs,” he said.

The senator said they are tired of empty promises from the Ministry of Interior since nothing seems to be done to contain the attacks despite CS Fred Matiang'i promising action.

“The government response has been cosmetic with futile promises for operations. Matiang'i has promised these operations three times and nothing has happened for the past seven days,” he said.

He said children need to feel safe and go back to school.

“As a result, all primary schools have been closed and our children are terrified. Police officers are watching helplessly as the Kenya defence Forces sit pretty in their barracks. This government seems helpless and cannot protect the people of Laikipia,” he said.

Other senators called for action so that attacks don't spread to other regions.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said it was time to give the police the equipment they need to restore security.

“The only people who can handle the bandits are the police and they should be well equipped to ensure the people of Laikipia are safe,” he said.

Mandera Senator Mohamed Mohamud said the police are just watching the bandits take over the region. Nominated Senator Naomi Waqo said there has been an outcry over the increase in police brutality and sometimes they are over deployed in certain instances yet their services are needed elsewhere.

"Sometimes we ask ourselves whether the CS Interior is giving the right orders to his people," she said.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala urged the government to address the root course of the attacks.

“We have rumours on what the root course is. We do not want to work with rumours yet our people are dying. We want it sorted urgently,” said Malala.

He added: “I was arrested after Matungu killings and up to date, I have never been charged. It’s just political games when it comes to arrests. We have been failed by the police, national intelligence and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations."

Marsabit Senator Hargura Godana said there are dry seasons and wet seasons therefore grazing areas for small scale farmers are affected.

“The pastoralists fall back on these areas because conservationists have grabbed land and this is their fall back. It is unfortunate. The bigger issue needs to be addressed.”

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina blamed historical land injustices. "This the cause of all these problems we are witnessing. Laikipia is the bedrock of all these problems. When you traverse the county you wonder what the framers of the Constitution in Article 67 (2 (e) setting up the National Lands Commission and giving it powers to investigate, wanted,” said Kina.

He added: “The commission’s mandate is to initiate investigations on present or historical land injustices and recommend redress.”

He said Parliament passed the NLC Act in 2012 and it was amended in 2016. Section 15 states “the commission in two years of appointment should recommend to parliament appropriate ways of investigations, adjudication, rising from historical land injustices for the purposes of Article 67.

He said the Act set the deadline of September 21, 2021, where anyone who feel aggrieved, files a complaint to the NLC.

“The Maasai nation has been drafting its complaints and will be presenting soon. Violence begets violence. What the government is doing now is wrong. Arresting leaders like former MP Mathew Lempurkel and Tiaty MP William Kamket is not the solution. The solution will be found by government sitting with these leaders and talking with them,” he said.

He added: “The problem we are experiencing in Laikipia is climate change. There is drought. It is happening every year. Last year, Maasais were killed by the GSU. How do you bring military to deal with a matter that can be dealt with by police? The solution is not by pointing a gun or talking at how they have inadequate arms.”

Kinyua however took issue with Kina’s sentiments, telling him off on calls to dialogue with locals and leaders.

“People are being shot, schools are being torched and people displaced and you say we should discuss? What do we discuss? We are suffering as people of Laikipia and Ole Kina is lecturing us about climate change. What is climate change when you kill and burn schools?” he posed.

He added: “With climate change you go ahead and displace people? I don’t understand that. All of a sudden he says we should not arrest leaders. We are talking about bandits, there are innocent Kenyans forced to flee their homes."

He urged the committee on security to prioritise the matter.

Ole Kina said he sympathies with the victims but running away from the problem won't help.

“If the president declared drought a national disaster and ordered National Treasury to release Sh2 billion to deal with the issue, the senator should see the bigger problem,” he added.

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