The government has put on notice politicians fueling violence in Turkana East and Tiaty Constituency, warning that those concerned will face the full force of the law.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said preliminary investigations had established that some elected leaders were mobilizing members of their communities into armed conflicts in the restive Kapedo area leading to loss of lives, theft of livestock and destruction of property.
Speaking in his office in Nakuru, the administrator confirmed that high level security teams have been deployed in the volatile border of Baringo and Turkana counties in a bid to restore calm following the latest attack that left a 75-year-old man dead and three others injured.
He expressed concern that efforts to establish lasting peace in the region were being frustrated by political supremacy battles between Members of Parliament, Governors, Members of County Assemblies and aspiring candidates in the region.
While directing security agencies in the area to step up their vigilance and deal firmly with any law breakers, Natembeya announced that the state has launched a major operation aimed at mopping up guns from locals. He said the illegal firearm menace had become a major challenge in the area.
“We are investigating the matter and if established to be credible, those politicians concerned will face the full force of the law,” he said.
“It is a pity that a Member of Parliament and a Governor were involved in a bitter public spat that heightened tensions in the already troubled region. We also established that a Member of County Assembly spent the entire night dissuading locals from attending peace meetings,” he observed.
The administrator said security personnel had managed to dismantle criminal gangs that were sponsoring cattle rustling enterprises in Laikipia County, while a major operation had been launched in Silale location within Baringo County to mop up illicit firearms.
The Regional Commissioner indicated that high level security teams have been deployed in the area as four schools were temporarily shut following the attack. The schools are Kapedo Primary, Kapedo Girls Primary, Lomelo Primary and Kapedo Secondary.
According to locals, at least 10 houses were also torched and a health centre vandalized.
Natembeya explained that the latest skirmishes erupted after a group of armed youths were searching for stolen livestock on Monday and in the process fatally shot the 75-year-old man.
“The main challenge at the border is guns among locals, communities are holding guns and we have begun operations to disarm them to end this banditry,” said Natembeya.
He added that the main hurdle in flashing criminal elements in the area has been the tough terrain and communication challenge. He called on Telcome companies to install masts in the area.
Meanwhile, Natembeya has issued a stern warning to cattle rustlers saying, “Cattle rustlers have no place in this era. We are warning them their days are numbered.”
Security officers have also mounted an operation to flush out bandits who have terrorized residents since last week. The operation is the latest in a series of government crackdowns in the area.
He called on elected leaders to be at the forefront in educating locals on the need to discard outdated practices such as cattle rustling and embrace development and education in its stead.
“The government has always done its best in mopping up illegal firearms. However, the biggest challenge is that members of these communities always take advantage of porous borders to smuggle into the country other arms after we mount operations,” observed the Regional Commissioner.
By Jane Ngugi /Dennis Rasto