Land boundary factor in the killing of Laikipia chief

Kithure Kindiki

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki (second left) at the home of Laikipia slain Senior Chief Jacob Yiangere. With him is Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere (left) and Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri.

Photo credit: Mwangi Ndirangu I Nation Media Group

Last Sunday’s killing of the Senior Chief of Ilmotiok Location in Laikipia County by bandits adds to the growing list of individuals who have lost their lives in this insecurity-prone region.

The residents say peace has remained elusive in the last three years and the latest cold-blooded murder of Jacob Leyangere inside his homestead at Taimamut village brings the total number of those killed to 19.

The administrator met his death in the hands of three bandits who strolled casually to his home, ransacked it, reportedly in search of a firearm before shooting the head of the family and escaping on foot in broad daylight.

The killing itself was chilling with the locals putting security officers to task for previously pledging to deal with banditry attacks, only for the hardened criminals to strike again.

They feel insecure that the bandits believed to be from the neighbouring Isiolo County can dare kill a government administrator.

“How safe are we if our chief, who we regarded as a protector can be killed? Who will be the next victim, our assistant chief or our MCA? These killings are aimed at scaring us to move out of our land to give the aggressors more grazing area for their livestock,” said community elder Mr Hatson Michami.

The slain chief who was at the sunset years of public administration career had remained adamant showing by example that the government was in control and would not give in to the rule of the jungle. By refusing to move out of his homestead despite several armed raids at his homestead, he had encouraged some of his subjects who had migrated to return.

Kithure Kindiki's security meeting

A security meeting presided over by Interior CS Kithure Kindiki following the killing of  Senior Chief Jacob Yiangere by suspected bandits on December 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Mwangi Ndirangu I Nation Media Group

Unfortunately, the brave chief who was set to retire from public service next month paid the ultimate price, silenced by a bullet to the chest .

Mr Michami, who is the chairman of inter-County Peace Committee that brings elders from Isiolo and Laikipia told Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki that as the easy target of frequent attacks, they were no longer interested in “empty dialogue” but now wanted government’s security machinery to use force and restore calm.

In response, Prof Kindiki announced a raft of security measures aimed at dealing with banditry attacks, including apprehending those who shot dead the senior chief while telling the community never to surrender their land to anybody.

“We shall set up camps here for General Service Unit (GSU) officers, Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) and other specialized police units in the area. Security officers have now declared an all-out war on bandits, cattle rustlers and other criminal gangs,” declared the CS who was accompanied by Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome.

Prof Kindiki also granted the wishes of the affected residents to recruit, train and deploy National Police Reservists, announcing that in a week’s time, a total of 360 would be issued with firearms with 100 of them being station along the boundary to provide a buffer zone on the Ewaso-Ngare Ndare stretch of over 100 kilometres.

Speakers during the security meeting convened by the CS blamed the frequent incursions by armed herders and bandits to unresolved issues on marking out the boundary separating the two counties.

“The underlying issue is failure by the relevant authorities to define the exact boundary of Laikipia and Isiolo counties. The invading herders removed the beacons and now through uncouth ways claim part of the registered Tiamamut Community land with their real motive being to push us further away from here,” noted Mr Godfrey Mitiaki.

Two years ago, security forces were forced to bring down semi-permanent shelters (manyattas) that had been erected next to the common boundary on Narasha village which is in Isiolo County.

Security feared that allowing homesteads near the boundary would fuel animosity and lead to clashes between the two neighbouring but hostile communities.

Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere told Prof Kindiki that the frequent banditry attack was a ploy for the neighbouring communities to overrun their conservancies.

“Unlike our neighbours where the illiteracy level is high, our people are educated and do not possess illegal guns and neither do they engage in cattle rustling activities. They are involved in conservation of wild animals and have built several eco-tourism lodges and our neighbours’ objective is to take community conservancies and turn them into grazing fields,” said the MP.

With the National Government with its security machinery having moved in to stem its authority in this volatile area, locals are now hopeful that permanent peace is now on sight, or is it? Only time will tell.


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