The Star (Nairobi)

29 November 2012

Kenya: The Army Has a Duty to Keep Kenya Secure

Photo: UN/File
Two people killed by bandits in Samburu.

opinion

The recent murder of several security officers by unknown people in Suguta Valley in Baragoi and the shooting of three military officers in Garissa are indications of a serious security lapse in the country.

Such incidences send wrong signals especially ahead of the March 4 general election. However the reaction by some leaders especially politicians from Turkana left many people wondering whether the killing in Baragoi was truly an act by cattle rustlers or some kind of revenge attack.

Three Turkana legislators among them a Cabinet Minister and Assistant Minister have been questioned by the police and charged in Court for making inflammatory utterances that can create ethnic tension.

Even though the legislators were ironically released by Court for lack of evidence many questions still remain an answered regarding the incident at Suguta valley in Baragoi.

Many of the slained officers were young recruits who have just finished training and had no experience whatsoever on how to handle or deal with intricate and delicate operations like fighting cattle rustlers who are normally armed with very sophisticated weapons.

The government seems to have abandoned its security officers in the hands of bandits without adequate preparation, protection and to a larger extent security for their well-being.

The government including top security officers has not come out clearly on the incident. The Police Commissioner refused to take responsibility on the murder of his officers claiming that he had no idea about the operation.

A contigent of over one hundred security officers could not be deployed to a volatile area like Suguta valley without proper arrangement, preparation and prior consultation. T

It is sad that when Kenyans were mourning the slained officers the country's Chief Executive Officer who is also the Commander in Chief of Armed forces and his Deputy were busy opening a presidential palace for the Vice President at Karen.

This showed lack of concern, commitment and dedication to the important role security officers are playing in ensuring peace and order in the country.

The least they could do was to be at Wilson airport to receive the bodies of the fallen heroes who lost their lives while on duty. The situation would have been different if those victims were politicians.

It is sad that even after the officers were attacked and injured by bandits they remained in the valley for several days without food or help.

Many of them succumbed to death as nobody came to their rescue except wild animals which were feeding on them while still alive.

Their bodies were discovered a few days later. Many of them who were hurt during the attack tried frantically to reach out for help through their mobiles phones vain but in vain.

Clearly there was no coordination within the command of the police regarding the operation. The Minister in charge of internal security together with the top command of the police force should come out clean and explain to Kenyans what actually happened in Baragoi.

As articulated in the constitution, Kenyans have a right to demand for good governance from the leadership. Instead of condemning the involvement of the military in the security operation, legislators in parliament should have demanded for the resignation of the Minister and his entire security team in Rift Valley to pave way for thorough and proper investigations.

In fact in mature democracies the government should have been asked to step down and pave way for fresh leadership as it failed to protect the lives of the citizens and its officers.

The officers died painfully and miserably while on duty. Why should one require joining the security forces when the government is not keen in protecting them?

The incident that took place at Baragoi is barbaric and very inhuman. Culprits whether bandits or politicians should be punished heavily to serve as a warning to others.

It is worrying when politicians condemn and make strong sentiments against the military when their services are solicited for to help bring peace in the country.

The military as a department of security has a role and a major responsibility not only to protect the country from external aggressors but also to defend the people internally in collaboration with other security agencies.

Human life is sanctified and should be protected and honored irrespectively. Legislators have a right to defend the people they represent but above all they should think , speak and reason as Kenyans first not communities or constituents.

The security officers who were killed in Baragoi and the soldiers who were killed in Garrissa recently are also Kenyans and constituents of other leaders.

They are also families, husbands, children, colleagues and friends of other Kenyans. There should be discrimination, compromise or blame shifting when Kenyans have lost lives and more so when security of a nation is threatened.

Terror organizations like Alshabab have been killing people in churches, social places and now on highways using explosives.

Kenyans are getting tired with this senseless menace. Something ought to have been done or needs to be done urgently before more other lives are lost.

It is high time Kenyans come together to fight this menace without fear or favor. The blame game will not help Kenyans at this scaring and worrying moment.

It was irresponsible for Members of Parliament to condemn deployment of military personnel by the government in volatile security areas and yet they themselves as legislators have failed to come up with legislative strategic measures to curb the menace.

The security situation is becoming complex and difficult to contain by regular security forces such as police, administration Police and General service Unit thus calling for the essential services of the military personnel.

As much as we appeal to the security forces whether police , GSU or military to go slow when dealing with ordinary Kenyans we should all be pragmatic as Kenyans to commend and compliment the security personnel and be proud of what they are doing whether police, Administration police, regular police or army to protect our lives.

Kenyan Somalis are citizens of Kenya and therefore should and must be protected as entrenched in the constitution. However criminals hiding in their midst killing, maiming and causing havoc and fear must be dealt with harshly and decisively.

The government should not compromise and relent in taking any measure deemed fit and necessary to maintain peace and bring order in the country including arresting individuals and leaders suspected to be working and doing business with the terrorists in the country.

Kenya is not an extension of Somalia therefore fugitive Somalis should not be allowed to create havoc in Kenya. The Minister responsible for Immigration should recall all the Identification Cards and Passports issued out to scrutinize who are real Kenyans and who are terrorists.

Corruption and impunity is causing long term havoc to Kenyans. When dubious people are issued with essential documents like IDS, Passports and Work permits then lives of citizens are compromised like it is in the case in Kenya today in relation to Somalis of Somalia origins.

In fact Eastleigh Estate has been turned into a nother Mogadishu. The sad thing is that they are spreading and establishing business entities using politicians and other local people.

Because of peace and stability and its love to other people, Kenyan has been a host to many refugees from Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan etc.

This attitude and hospitality should not be misunderstood by those being helped. Kenya is a nation with its own people and problems too.

Kenyans of Somali origin should be in the forefront supporting governments efforts to root out bad elements in their midst instead of their leaders being parochial and opposed to security measures put in place by the government to maintain peace and order.

When Kenyan Defense Forces invaded Somalia almost everybody complimented them for doing that but they did not invade Somalia to drive Alshabab in Kenya.

Kenyan people are admired and respected for being peaceful and mindful of other people's interest. Throwing grenades in Churches, public transport and other social places are barbaric, inhuman and senseless acts of stupidity and hooliganism that cannot be associated or identified with Kenyans.

In the recent past many Kenyans have lost lives in very unclear circumstances such as the Tana Delta massacre, Wajir and Mandera and more recently the Baragoi killing.

In Garrissa a lone many Kenyans have been killed and maimed by bombs from people suspected to be sympathizers or members of the Alashabab group.

Fugitives who have betrayed the hospitality given to them by Kenya should be pushed out of the country as soon as possible so that Kenyans can maintain peace and harmony in their country.

Kenyans of Somali origins should not fear the militia. The community should work hand in hand with the government to root out evil elements living among them like what has been experienced in the recent past.

Criminals irrespective of who they are should not be feared or harbored by anybody.Eastleigh or any other part of Kenya should not be turned into another Somalia. This is Kenya and we want friendship and peace among us as Kenyans.

Denise Kodhe, Executive Director, Institute for Democracy & Leadership in Africa- IDEA

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