More action, less talk on banditry in Rift, MPs say
Members of Parliament from Rift Valley have renewed calls for a military operation in the restive region to flush out armed bandits and mop up illegal guns through forceful disarmament.
Speaking on the sidelines of an induction seminar for lawmakers in Mombasa yesterday, the MPs also called for the establishment of a special department within the executive to deal with issues of banditry and cattle rustling in the volatile region.
Pointing out that innocent civilians were bearing the brunt of armed conflict, the leaders from Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana counties said the government should formally declare the bandits to be terrorists.
“Insecurity has become a very thorny issue in the Kerio Valley and the entire North Rift. We want Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure to take full charge,” Marakwet East MP David Bowe said.
Mr Bowe said that, in the past few months, Kerio Valley has witnessed a spate of attacks that have led to the loss of many lives. In the past two weeks alone, he said, over 10 people have been killed in Marakwet East and in parts of Baringo North and South.
“The state has deployed the military to ensure that there is peace in the DRC and Somalia, leaving many Kenyans in Kerio Valley at the mercy of criminals,” he said.
Baringo Woman Rep Jematia Sergon urged the government to find out who are the funders and beneficiaries of cattle rustling.
“It is painful to appear helpless as a leader because everyone is looking up to you to provide solutions every time people are killed,” she said. Ms Jematia urged Prof Kindiki to focus on Tiaty Sub-county, claiming that it’s the epicentre of the insecurity that is plaguing the region.
She also demanded that banditry victims be compensated by the state. Turkana Central MP Martin Amwara called on President William Ruto to step in and end the violence.
“Mr President, [get out of] State House and come restore hope among our people. Give us a specific directorate, a semi-autonomous government agency to look at the cattle rustling issue in North Rift. Uganda has the Karamoja Affairs Directorate that is specifically designed to respond to cattle rustling,” he said.
Baringo South MP Charles Kamuren lamented that, during the Kimalel goat auction in Baringo last year, Dr Ruto ordered that five schools that had been closed for the past 10 years be reopened, which is yet to happen. Elgeyo Marakwet Woman Rep Caroline Ngelechei called for a firm stand on insecurity in Rift Valley.
“We want thorough and ruthless disarmament. Boardroom meetings with security agencies are no longer viable. If criminals can attack national police reservists and take their firearms, it’s sending the message that the state is impotent,” she said.