About 64,000 guns are in the wrong hands at the coastal region, Kenya National Focal Point Deputy director Charles Munyoli has said.
Munyoli has said despite the government and other stakeholders’ security efforts to sensitize people on the importance of surrendering firearms, some of them have remained adamant.
Speaking to the press in Hola town Monday, the deputy director said the increasing number of illegal arms was being aided by the instability in some of our neighbouring countries, thus opening illegal ( panya) routes where the firearms are sneaked into the country, landing into the wrong hands.
He stated that the proliferation of firearms has led to emergence of youthful militia groups in the coastal region resulting into criminal activities in some parts of the region.
The deputy director also explained that there were other emerging trends that facilitate the leakage and influx of illegal weapons, therefore urging local residents to be vigilant.
However, contacted for comment civil society activists, community leaders and religious leaders blamed the police manning road blocks for allowing the passage of weapons into the country.
Some activists stated that although the local residents need peace, some security officers collaborate with people holding the firearms illegally hence, they have not fully supported the disarmanent.
An activist, Ahmed Famau stated, “You find that weapons are ferried from Mombasa to Lamu, going through more than 10 road blocks, it only costs Sh50 per barrier to have their luggage not properly searched.”
Famau also claimed that in as much as most of the residents with illegal firearms may want to return them, they feared being victimized and made targets by the same police.
He said there were some incidents where good residents reported such cases and ended up being suspects, thus eroding the very trust between the police and the residents.
Sheikh Mohammed Pama on the other hand called on religious leaders to respect houses of worship.
“There were past claims that mosques were being used to store weapons, nevertheless, as religious leaders we must reject any criminal activity that will taint the image of the places of worship,” he said.
By Simon Guruba