Kerio Valley: Security bosses, clerics want police officers’ work reviewed

Security officers  patrolling at Lami Nyeusi area along the Kitale-Lodwar highway. Residents have been displaced and villages deserted in the area following fresh attacks in the region.

Photo credit: Oscar Kakai | Nation Media Group

Security chiefs and religious leaders in the North Rift want Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to review the performance of police officers stationed in the Kerio Valley belt.

The call follows perennial insecurity in the region that has left dozens of people dead, hundreds displaced and uncountable livestock stolen.

County commissioners and police bosses from Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties and inter-faith clerics want the violence in the region to end.

The Kerio Valley stretches across Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo counties and is home to two dominant and warring communities – the Marakwet and the Pokot.

The group held consultations last week, after which they outlined a raft of measures they want adopted in the insecurity-prone parts of the region.

They want Mr Mutyambai to review the performance of police officers through re-vetting and retraining. They also want greater coordination and cooperation between police and clerics on peace efforts.

Persistent insecurity has also dealt a blow to the region’s economy and education, with several agencies closing shop and vacating. Some schools closed down and have not reopened after locals deserted insecurity-prone villages for safer areas.

Baringo residents attending a peace meeting at Loruk, at the border of Baringo North and Tiaty sub-counties on April 29, 2022. The meeting was convened by Baringo County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa to quell heightened tension after two people were killed.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

The group issued a joint communique after their three-day peace consultations in Eldoret last week. They urged local communities to profile notorious bandits to help the police in weeding them out, even as they asked that roads be opened up to ease movement for locals and security teams.

In July 2019, a peace accord was signed in Chesegon, West Pokot, a common open-air market that brought traders from the two warring communities together, ending four years of bloodletting.

But for the last one year, several cows and goats have been stolen and more than 70 people killed.

Attempts to mop up illegal firearms have failed, giving bandits the room to steal and kill at will.

In a wide range of proposed strategies to contain runaway insecurity, the provincial administrators and the clergy agreed on the need for proactive intelligence and strengthening of the early warning and response systems.

Communities in the four counties have been urged to embrace continuous inter-county and community dialogue and peace forums.

“The leaders and individuals commit to peace processes. All the stakeholders in the four counties and political leadership will embrace dialogue for peaceful coexistence and undertake peace caravans and inter-county peace dialogues, joint peace programmes in the areas affected,” they said in a joint communique read by Rev Fr Joseph Mutie, chairperson of Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

“We have agreed that political leadership in all the four counties commit to promote peace before, during and after the General Election, and support peace dividends projects and programmes targeting the communities in the four counties.”

Communities will also identify peace champions and promote inclusion and participation of the leaders, people living with disabilities and youth, and introduce peace-building projects under the new arrangement.

They asked political leaders from the region to join hands with the security apparatus in the ongoing disarmament campaign.

“The national government and various leaders will collaborate in undertaking disarmament and a crackdown on illicit arms in the four counties,” said Rev Mutie.

The group also wants the government to activate gazetted police stations and national administrative units to enhance security in the region.

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