The national government will arm chiefs and their assistants in volatile areas of Samburu County in a bid to combat cattle rustlers and bandits that have wreaked havoc in the area.
Speaking at the Ltungai rangers’ camp along the border of Samburu and Baringo counties, Interior and National Administration CS Prof. Kithure Kindiki noted that chiefs and their assistants are usually the first line of defense, whenever bandits strike and it is time that they are armed to protect the lives and property of the people they serve.
“From today all the chiefs and their assistants will be vetted, trained and armed and they will work together with the National Police Reservists and the special forces who are already combing the area to end banditry and cattle rustling,” he said.
The CS noted that moving forward cattle rustling and banditry in northern Kenya will be treated as acts of terrorism.
“Cattle rustling and banditry is equivalent to terrorism. There is no difference between Al-Shabaab and bandits who are stealing and killing innocent people in Samburu County and we will deal with them ruthlessly,” he said.
At the same time, Prof. Kindiki assured the chiefs and all security officers that the government will defend any officer who uses their firearm to protect the lives and property of Kenyans from victimization from any national or international agency.
“As the CS interior, I understand what the law says in regard to the use of firearms by security officers and I want to state that the weapons issued to police officers and the weapons we will issue to chiefs and their assistants are not for ornamental purposes, but for defending the lives and property of the people of Kenya,” he said.
Further, the CS warned bandits and cattle rustlers in Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Isiolo and Turkana counties that it will not be business as usual saying that the government will deploy human and financial resources, including all manner of weapons to ensure cattle rustling and banditry comes to an end.
“I want to warn those who have made a career out of cattle rustling and killing of innocent people in the name of culture to stop immediately. If you think you are stronger than the Government of Kenya just continue stealing livestock,” he warned.
The CS assured herders in Samburu North that the government was in the process of recovering over 900 cows, which were stolen in Baragoi a few days ago urging morans not to stage retaliatory attacks and give the security agents time to recover the animals.
Samburu County Governor Lati Lelelit proposed that a buffer zone be set between Samburu and Baringo counties to keep herders from colliding as they graze.
“Herders from Baringo should remain in Tiaty while Samburu herders will not cross Ltungai area, the buffer zone will be a wild animal conservancy and I believe this type of arrangement will end the perennial conflict,” the governor said.
Lelelit noted that cattle rustlers always take advantage of the rough terrain in the area and urged the national government to create security roads to enable security officers to patrol the area with ease.
The CS was in Samburu County to commission a one-month training of 560 National Police Reservists (NPR) at the Ltungai conservancy in Samburu West.
Other leaders present included Samburu Senator Steve Lelegwe, Samburu Women Representative Pauline Lenguris and Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda among others.
By Robert Githu