15 November 2012

Kenya: Councillor, Four Chiefs in Court Over Samburu Police Killings

MILITARY helicopters have joined police in the search for bandits who killed 42 police officers on Saturday.

A councilor and four chiefs were yesterday arraigned before a Maralal court in connection with the killing of 42 police officers at Baragoi area of Samburu County.

Nachola ward councilor Lawrence Lorunyei, chiefs Jeremiah Ekurao,Amojong Lothuru,Christopher Epul and Ewoi Losike denied robbery with violence charges before Maralal principal magistrate Charles Ndegwa.

According to the prosecution led by Inspector John Mugo, the five in company of others not before the court stole 12 G3 rifles at Suguta valley on Saturday November 10.

The prosecution pleaded with the court not to release the suspects terming the offense as serious since over 30 police officers had lost their lives during the incident.

He said that over 400 heads of cattle were also stolen under which circumstances the officers lost their lives while trying to recover them.

The prosecution also pleaded for more time to carry out thorough investigations into the matter. The magistrate set the date for November 26 for mention when the hearing date will be set.

Yesterday, the military air surveillance team located the stolen cattle in Lokichar, Turkana South. By last evening an operation team of GSU, AP and regular police had been deployed at Bargoi airstrip ready to be airlifted to the venue.

"We were told this morning that the animals have been spotted in Lokichar and ordered to move to Baragoi airstrip where three military and one AP choppers were waiting. However, later our commander ordered us to return to Baragoi police station to give the military time to do more aerial surveillance," a cop involved in the operation said.

On Tuesday, hundreds of security officers arrived in Baragoi after a day long journey on the rough terrain from Rumuruti in Laikipia county. They left Nakuru on Monday on a mission to hunt down the rustlers who killed their colleagues in an ambush.

In Mombasa, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence faulted President Kibaki for deploying KDF soldiers deal with cattle rustlers.

At a press conference at a Mombasa hotel yesterday, committee chairman and Wajir West MP Aden Keynan said that KDF deployment should be done as a last resort.

"Deployment of KDF means that all other security details have failed," said Keynan. He added that the committee will summon the minister in charge to shed more light on the deployment.

"You cannot go using the army in every situation. This means the government wants to militarize the whole country," Keynan added. Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo said: "Let it be the last time president Kibaki is doing this. It's completely unacceptable to use KDF in dealing with cattle rustlers. KDF is a professional army."

On Tuesday, President Kibaki after consultations with National Security Council ordered the immediate deployment of KDF to Baragoi. The army was tasked to comb the area, disarm, arrest, and neutralize elements that facilitate cattle rustling in the Baragoi area.

The last area to receive such a deployment was Mt. Elgon in Western region to neutralize the threats posed by the then dreaded Saboat Land Defense Force, an outfit that had wreaked havoc in the area.

The MPs however said that they supported the ongoing peace mission in the troubled area but cautioned that something must be wrong in the country's internal security sector after the Sunday killing.

"In 2008, there was massive killing and there was no haphazard deployment of KDF except for a few selected areas. The committee is perplexed but at the same time backing the ongoing peace mission by the government," said Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo.

Kiema implied that Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere should resign for what he termed as security lapse in the country. "If this would have happened in another country, the first person to step aside will be the person in charge, and in this case is the police commissioner Mathew Iteere. Something is amiss here and we need to be told," Kiema said.

The legislators called on Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to restore calm as the country gravitates towards March 4, 2013 polls. "The country is in an election eve and such incidents are scary. We experienced the same in Tana River, Wajir and Isiolo and now more than 40 officers were killed in Baragoi. It's serious and when the Parliament resumes, we shall press to be told what is happening," said Keynan.

Others present at the media briefing were Nominated MP George Nyamweya, Kamkunji's Yusuf Hassan, and Martin Ogindo of Rangwe.

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