Leaders: Be fair in the Turkana hunt for guns

A Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) officer carrying AK-47 riffles surrendered during a peace meeting at Kapedo in Turkana East in 2020. [Lucas Ngasike, Standard]

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai wants the government to ensure fairness in conducting the ongoing disarmament in the North Rift.

Although he praised the deployment of military personnel to help contain banditry, Lomorukai said the disarmament drive should have clear plans that will not harm any community in the insecurity-prone borderlines.

“The issue of disarmament needs us to sit in a meeting so that we plan it nicely. Disarmament exercises conducted previously disadvantaged my community. We were disarmed, but our neighbours were not. That’s why we are being attacked every time,” said Lomorukai.

Governor Lomorukai spoke at Kalokol Ward, Turkana Central, during the burial of Peter Erus, the father to Turkana deputy governor John Erus.

The governor recalled that during the tenure of Interior Minister John Michuki, more than 1,500 guns were collected from the Turkana side, while from the West Pokot side, only six guns were collected by security personnel.

“Turkana is in a plain area, which means, we can easily be disarmed compared to our neighbours who can climb the mountainous and tough terrain and remain with guns that they will use to attack us again after the exercise,” he said.

Lomorukai advised: “Some of us have been living in the most insecure places, and we can advise the government on how to go about disarmament without skipping some areas, let us sit and plan this well. Otherwise, the Turkana people will be left vulnerable again.”

The Turkana county boss expressed his dissatisfaction with the dusk-to-dawn curfew in Turkana East, Turkana South and Loima, saying some towns like Lokichar where business has been affected should not be included.

He said the curfew should remain in force at Kainuk, border region.

“Nothing has happened at Lokichar town, nobody was killed. Killings happened in Kainuk, and that is where the curfew should be posed. The only curfew that was fit for Lokichar town was that of corona."

The governor lauded the government for deploying the military in the North Rift to combat insecurity.

He further called on the government to probe Pokot South MP David Pkosing.

Lomorukai’s statement on the arrest of Pkosing was echoed by the leader of the minority in the Turkana County assembly Samson Lomodo, who said the utterances should be condemned.

This comes days after Inspector General of Police Japeth Koome visited Kainuk area in Turkana South to meet with Turkana security teams to discuss the operation that is now fully implemented by several security agencies.

The National Police Service and Kenya Defence Forces' joint operation that enters its third day has received mixed reactions.

Turkana Central MP Joseph Namuar said the military should not go back to their barracks and instead set up camp in the region and initiate projects of integrating the warring communities.

He said underdevelopment has contributed to conflict for scarce resources and banditry that has taken a long time to be contained.

“As they are conducting operations let them also build roads, hospitals, and schools in places that are insecure," Namuar said.

The legislator who accompanied the Turkana governor during the burial added that there is a need to make the north rift a region that embraces peaceful coexistence among the pastoral communities.

Businesses in Lokichar and Kainuk towns in Turkana South have been disrupted since many operate at night and cannot do business because of the curfew imposed by the Interior ministry.

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