North Rift insecurity worsens despite government measures


Lives have been lost, property destroyed, and people displaced as suspected bandits continue to rule parts of the North Rift.

Insecurity is rife in the areas, with locals forced to learn to live with the gunshot sounds. To the surprise of many, most attacks happen in broad daylight.

Talks have been held and security operations conducted in the areas, but little has been achieved. Even with the heavy deployment of security personnel to the insecurity region, bandits have always had their day.

On Saturday, suspected bandits killed Kagir Primary School’s head teacher in an attack that occurred at around 8 am.

Joseph Kibet was in the company of his wife and daughter and a National Police Reservist officer. He was killed while on his way to visit his daughter at Kipcherere Secondary School in Baringo North.

Kibet, a victim of the banditry attacks, had lived with the scars for decades. He survived a banditry attack in 1978 that left him blind.

The teacher in an earlier interview revealed that bandits shot at him, and a bullet penetrated his left ear and exited through the right cheek.

“They were in the company of one National Police Reservist (NPR). The NPR officer, Kibet’s wife and daughter managed to escape, but Kibet could not run due to his disability,” said Baringo County Police Commander Julius Kiragu.

He said police who were on patrol responded to the gunshot sound only to find Kibet lying in a pool of blood.

A day after the killing of the teacher, suspected bandits laid an ambush on a convoy of security teams who were conducting a security operation in the area.

The team led by Baringo County Commissioner Stephen Kutwa and the Police Commander were tracking the deceased teacher’s stolen phone signal.

Kutwa stated that the bandits after killing the teacher took his phone which had helped them track their location.

 “We were following leads on teacher murder at Yatya, we were attacked by bandits, and the Baringo North Sub-County Police Commander vehicle which was leading the convoy was sprayed with bullets,” he said.

For two days, he stated that the team had been pursuing the bandits who were using their livestock as a shield.

Kutwa observed that parts of Yatya had been named as disturbed and were used by bandits to graze their animals, stating that they were working on driving them away.

He calls on herds still herding in areas marked as disturbed to vacate the place immediately insisting that they will continue flushing out bandits.

Kiragu on his part vowed that they would not relent following the attack but committed to end the menace.

One of his officers, Kiragu said, was injured during the exchange of fire.

The killings of the teacher comes hardly three weeks after suspected bandits sprayed bullets at Laikipia rancher the late Lucy Jennings, leaving her with gunshot wounds to her head and arm. She later succumbed to the injuries.

In October last year, suspected bandits engaged security personnel in an over two-hour fire exchange in Arabal, disrupting learning in the nearby Kapindasum Primary School.

The bandits allegedly also surrounded a General Service Unit in the area, and the exchange of fire started at around 9:12 am.

The attacks continue to be witnessed despite the ongoing operations in the North Rift.

The Government in 2023 deployed multi-agency agency troops comprising Kenya Defence Forces and National Police Service under ‘Operation Maliza Uhalifu’ North Rift.

President William Ruto, in February 2023, ordered joint security operations in the North Rift.

Defence CS Aden Duale then gazetted the deployment of Kenya Defence Forces to support the Kenya Police Service in the North Rift.

Following the deployment, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said security forces will set up camps in the bandit-prone areas to eradicate the menace. He has also been visiting the area to check on the status of security operations.

In August 2023, Kindiki said the government had restored peace in the North Rift, contrary to what is being experienced now.

A section of leaders have since been summoned to record statements with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers at the Regional Offices in Nakuru.

Last week, Tiaty MP William Kamket was arrested, detained for a night, and later released. DCI officers asked him to report back after two weeks.

Also summoned were Samburu Governor Lati Lelelit, and West Pokot County Deputy Governor Robert Komolle, among others.

Governor Lelit said they are just victims of the insecurity. He said, as leadership, they are ready to work with the government to ensure peace prevails in the area.

He said the main cause of conflict in the region is a wildlife conservancy created in 2013. The Ltungai-Malaso Conservancy. All Samburu’s moved out of the conservancy, and the bandits moved in.

He said they had a pride of lions that were killed in the conservancy, and people were being robbed.

Asked why there are attacks despite the operation, the Governor said there is no operation.

“It is you, the government that is letting down the communities in areas with insecurity. The area is underdeveloped, and it is the government to take charge and have more infrastructure in the area,” said Komolle.

Komolle called on CS Kindiki to have a clear plan, and talk with the leaders instead of behaving like a military man. He said as leaders, they will continue speaking their minds without fear.

On Monday, Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai was questioned by the detectives investigating cases of incitement to violence.

Speaking after he was interrogated, Governor Lomorukai confirmed he was summoned over an alleged incitement to violence statement he made.