The government has reiterated that the ongoing registration of all National Police Reservists(NPRs) and their guns will continue as it is meant to enhance security in insecurity prone areas.
The Secretary Internal Security (SIS), Moffat Kangi said NPRs were hurriedly recruited in the past without vetting and it had come to the government’s notice that some of them were using the guns issued to perpetuate the same insecurity they were supposed to contain.
Kangi said the exercise will make it easier for the government to track those being used illegally and called on NPRs who are yet to surrender theirs, to do so immediately, as he added that all the guns will be branded.
The SIS was speaking at Tot trading centre in Marakwet East Sub County during a visit by a high powered government delegation to address insecurity which has seen thousands of residents vacate the area while schools have closed.
He said the exercise is being conducted in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana, Samburu and Laikipia counties.
The Rift Valley Regional Coordinator (RC), Chimwaga Mwongo said in the past, NPRs were recruited following a request from leaders and therefore owed their allegiance to the leaders and not the respective police bosses thus leading to a challenge in supervision.
“This time, we want to vet and train them to act professionally just like the police service so that they can be deployed in any of the affected areas as opposed to now where they only work among their communities,” he said.
He added that there were guns which were issued to people in the past and while those people have grown old or even died, the guns have never been returned to the police and so the current exercise will help in mopping up such weapons.
Leaders from the areas affected said the exercise had led to an increase in banditry attacks noting that the government failed to consult them before embarking on the exercise.
Mwongo said his department will liaise with the Kenya Forest Service to lay out strategies to conduct security operations in Kamologon forest which he added, had become a transit point for animals stolen in both Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
“We have information that criminals hiding in the forest wait for the animals before transporting them to outside markets, this must stop,” he warned.
The RC added that there were leaders who had allocated themselves glades in the forest which they use to graze their animals and even recruited and armed youths who take care of the animals, saying they will be flushed out.
Noting that cattle rustling was no longer a cultural issue but a business venture, Kangi said there were cartels who thrive in the illegal business and had formed gangs of youths who are used to steal the animals and instructed the police to deal with them like any other criminal gang.
He also warned that the government will take stern action on leaders who incite the communities against each other and cautioned wananchi against reacting if their leader is arrested.
The SIS said the government would soon embark on mopping up of illegal guns, saying there was a lot of illegal weapons in the affected areas.
The function was attended by the West Pokot County Commissioner, Appolo Okelo, Henry Wafula (Baringo) and Dr. Ahmed Omar (Elgeyo Marakwet).
By Alice Wanjiru