Kenya: Elders Blame Matiang'i Over Rising Insecurity in Rift

16 October 2020

The Rift Valley Council of Elders has blamed Interior CS Fred Matiang'i over rising cases of insecurity in parts of the region.

The council has particularly pointed out rampant cases of cattle rustling and banditry attacks as a thorny issue in the region.

They attributed this to a decision by Dr Matiang'i to withdraw the Nation Police Reservists (NPR).

According to the Council Chair Gilbert Kabage, residents have been living at the mercy of bandits since the CS withdrew guns from the reservists.

Last year, the government withdrew more than 3,000 firearms from the NPRs in the North Rift in the war on banditry.

The reservists were ordered to hand back the guns at police stations where they had been deployed after it emerged that some of them had been misusing them to engage in criminal activities.

But speaking at Rumuruti town in Laikipia West when he met other council leaders to chart the way forward on the matter, Mr Kabage questioned the rationale that was used in disarming the NPRs, saying that they were playing a crucial role in maintaining peace and order in the region.

"We were told that the government was working on a forensic audit of the reservists more than a year ago hence the withdrawal of the guns. We are still waiting to be told what happened," said Mr Kabage.

He claimed that since their disarmament, insecurity had escalated in the region.

"Since then, the area has never known peace. The cabinet secretary has never visited areas visited by violence in Rift Valley even once. If he is too busy, then let another person be appointed," said the chairperson.

Cattle rustling

Area residents who spoke at the meeting lamented that no single day passes without a case of cattle rustling.

"For how long will these bandits continue to kill and steal from us so that the government can come to our rescue?" posed Mr Ezekiel Ellman.

Mr Kabage noted the NPRs complimented the police as they knew the locality well and could tackle the enemy.

"The NPR, most of them locals used to conduct regular border security patrols and helped residents to recover stolen animals," he said, adding that the government should consider reinstating them.

But Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya has said that contingents of security personnel, including those from the General Service Unit (GSU), the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) and others, were deployed in troubled areas after the withdrawal of the NPRs.

Hundreds of families have fled the volatile areas in the region for fear of attack by bandits.

Laikipia County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti has, however, urged residents who had fled their homes due to insecurity in the region to return to their homes.

The call comes after the government launched a massive security operation in the banditry-prone border of Laikipia and Baringo counties.

"We are urging residents who have fled their homes to return and continue their farming activities. The government will restore normalcy so they should not fear that they will be attacked," said Mr Nyameti.

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