Laikipia MP says ‘top politicians’ behind banditry as attacks escalate

Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere

Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere who has pointed an accusing finger at unnamed State officials and local politicians, saying they are behind bandit attacks in the county.

Photo credit: Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

Laikipia North MP Sara Korere has pointed an accusing finger at unnamed State officials and local politicians, saying they are behind bandit attacks in the county.

Laikipia MP says ‘top politicians’ behind banditry as attacks escalate

Following four days of consecutive attacks in her constituency since last week, the MP now alleges that the armed morans roaming the county and illegally grazing on farmers’ land are not the real owners of the livestock they tend.

She said there is suspicion the cattle are owned by politicians, who have armed the herders.

“These morans are just pawns of cartels that want free pasture in our county. We don’t believe they own the animals and have acquired the firearms for themselves because we know the process of acquiring firearms in Kenya,” Ms Korere told Nation.Africa in an interview.

“Yes there are a few instances when they kill police officers and steal their weapons but those are just few. The weapons could be coming through the porous borders but there are those involved…and not the morans.”

Police overpowered

Speaking in Nairobi, Ms Korere said all indications on the ground are that local police have been overpowered by the illegal herders, who continue to wreak havoc in the county.

Morans, she said, continue to commit crimes in her constituency despite a visit by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who recently issued a seven-day ultimatum to the herders. 

Dr Matiang’i said on July 29 that an operation would start after the period lapsed to flush out hundreds of illegal herders from neighbouring Samburu, Baringo and Isiolo counties if they fail to leave voluntarily.

Speaking at a camp for the Anti Stock Theft Unit in Naibor, Dr Matiang’i had said the operation would be firm and ruthless. But Ms Korere insists the warnings are not followed through, and that more lethal bandit attacks have been carried out since.

For instance, she cited bandit attacks on Saturday, as well as an attack on four families on Sunday in Kahuho, Laikipia North, where invaders made away with several animals. Assailants also struck on Monday night in Kithima village.

Schoolgirls clobbered

Later, she said, four schoolgirls who raised the alarm when they found herders grazing on their parents’ farms were clobbered by the morans.

There was another attack on Tuesday morning at Dam Samaki village in Laikipia North, during which heavy gunfire could be heard, she said.

“The impunity of these morans tells you there is another force behind them. This is not the usual banditry, it is terrorism and robbery,” she said.

“They are terrorising residents with impunity. There are pastoralists in this county who keep a small number of livestock but they don’t steal other people’s livestock. What is happening here is robbery.”

She alleged that all herders invading locals’ farms come from Isiolo North and Samburu East.

Branding of animals

She said the government should use its investigative agencies to unmask the people behind land invasions in Laikipia.

The MP also reckons that branding animals in each county as earlier suggested would help in taming thefts.

“Land in Laikipia has been demarcated and titled - whether group ranches, community or individual lands. Branding animals would mean that people moving with animals from one county to another would be known and will have to show a lease agreement with the owner of the land they are going to graze on,” she said.