Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale and his Interior counterpart Kithure Kindiki have defended the deployment of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officers to be deployed in six counties to assist the National Police Service in a security operation.
The two Cabinet Secretaries, who appeared before a joint sitting of the National Assembly Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations, and the National Assembly Committee on Administration and Internal Affairs, said the government was determined to restore order in the vast region.
Duale said article 241(a), (b) and c of the Constitution clearly define situations whereby the Kenya Defence Forces will come in to assist the National Police Service and the situation in West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu called for that.
“On February 13 this year, I wrote a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly on the situation in Northern Kenya and the military intervention required to assist the police in restoring order in the six counties before security personnel were deployed for the operation,” said Duale.
He told the committees led by Belgut MP Nelson Koech and Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo that together with his Interior counterpart, they had met with senior officers from National Police Service and KDF and came up with a master plan before the joint exercise.
Duale said they invoked section 214(b) of the Constitution which permits KDF to assist and cooperate with other authorities in situations of emergency or disaster, and report to the National Assembly whenever deployed in such circumstances.
Kindiki said that for more than 50 years, some parts of the country, especially in Rift Valley, Eastern and North Eastern have experienced security challenges, with the Kenya Kwanza administration led by President William Ruto determined to address them once and for all.
“We have long term, medium term and short term security measures to tackle the worsening security situation in some parts of the country which has been contributed to by what we can call as terrorists since they are now killing even innocent young girls,” said Kindiki.
He said they sought the help of the military since they required aerial surveillance and sophisticated firearms to counter the terrorists.
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He further refuted claims that this decision showed the police service had failed in its duties, and instead termed what the military is doing as complementary efforts.
Kindiki said that the government was proud of the work done by the NPS in the affected counties and the government is determined to eliminate illegal activities which have resulted in the loss of lives and property over the years.
He informed parliament that the government had set aside Sh20 billion for the modernisation of equipment in the police force so as to ensure that the officers are well equipped to handle internal security issues in the country.
“We are also holding discussions on reviewing the police wing which was moved to the military so that we can see whether it can go back to where it belonged since I believe we should not be having some of the challenges we are seeing in the National Police Service,” said Kindiki.
Duale said once the operation is completed within 24 hours, he will inform the house the budget for the entire operation and that at the moment it would not be in the interest of Kenyans to reveal everything that was being undertaken to restore normalcy in the six counties.
The two Cabinet Secretaries said it was the responsibility of their respective ministries to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and that it was no longer acceptable for terrorists to kill security personnel and innocent members of the public.
“Even as we speak here today, we should remember that the security of our citizens is paramount and that we are not going to reveal the nitty gritty of everything we are doing at the moment since we might be feeding enemies of the State with some information,” said Duale.
The Cabinet Secretaries said a lot of progress had been made in the joint security operation in Boni forest in efforts to eliminate terrorism threats in the area.
Kindiki said the government also had a keen interest in the happenings in Marsabit county which was left out in the current operation as the government comes up with separate measures in what he termed as the making of a genocide where local communities were bent on eliminating each other.
“In the past, cattle theft was more of a cultural issue but currently, we are seeing situations where attacks are happening with women and young girls being killed which was unheard of. These are clearly indications of a genocide in the making in Marsabit,” said Kindiki.
Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchory sought to know whether it was necessary to deploy the military in the six counties without Parliament’s approval first, to which Duale responded that they were only coming in to assist the police as stipulated in the Constitution.
Suba North MP Milly Odhiambo said the law needs to followed so that in case of anything even Parliament can own up.
Mount Elgon MP Fred Kapondi accused the government of cannibalising the National Police Service where its air wing was moved to the military and the failure to equip security personnel and motivate those working in rough terrain to be patriotic to their country.
Section 241 (3) of the Constitution stipulates that KDF are responsible for the defence and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic.
It states that they are also supposed to assist and cooperate with other authorities in situations of emergency or disaster, and report to the National Assembly whenever deployed in such circumstances.
KDF may be deployed to restore peace in any part of Kenya affected by unrest or instability, but only with approval of the National Assembly.