IG Koome convenes high level meeting in bid to end insecurity in Meru

IG Koome

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

A high level security meeting was held on Monday to discuss incessant attacks in Igembe North, Meru County, Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome has disclosed.

Mr Koome said the meeting, chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki resolved that the issue of insecurity in the region will be dealt with conclusively.

He said the government will deploy machinery and officers to flush out bandits in the area.

“I assure you that we will not allow anybody to interfere with the security of the people of this region. I cannot go into details of the kind of equipment we will deploy but you will see by our actions. We cannot let criminals kill residents and we will pursue them,” Mr Koome said.

“We will also involve members of the community and elders in peace building so that there is cohesion. We don’t want politics to interfere with this process,” he added.

He spoke at Mutuati Secondary School after touring Bulu grazing zone where security agents are battling bandits.

The IG was accompanied by Igembe North MP Julius Taitumu and his Igembe Central counterpart Dan Kiili among other leaders.

Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders were also present, led by chairman Linus Kathela and Secretary generals Washington Muthamia ( programmes) and Josphat Murangiri (operations).

His visit followed President William Ruto’s order on Saturday after Meru leaders asked the Head of State to intervene in an insecurity matter that appeared to get out of hand.

On Monday, bandits raided Njaruine village, Mutuati Sub County and killed five people including  two National Police Reservists and stole 350 head of cattle.

A contingent of GSU officers has been deployed in the area where security agencies are engaged in a fierce battle with about 70 bandits.

Area police commander Joseph Chesire said after the incident, the bandits retreated to a hilly area with bad terrain where they are hold up with the cattle.

“We have mobilized more resources and it will require a helicopter and three more vehicles to track the bandits. Our aim is to recover the cattle and arrest the bandits so that they can be charged in court,” Mr Chesire told Nation in an interview.

He said at least 42 cows had been recovered, adding that police were still pursuing the bandits. 

Mr Koome visited the area even as leaders in Igembe North, which has seen several bandit attacks in the recent past, asked the government to deploy more officers in the region and tame the menace.

After the death of the two NPR officers, only 12 were now manning the vast area, according to Mr Chesire.

Operation zone

Last month, former Antubetwe Kiongo MCA George Kaliunga was killed by bandits as he pursued his stolen cattle. During his burial on May 30, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki declared the region an operation zone and said officers would be deployed to flush out criminals terrorizing residents.

The CS also said 200 NPR officers would be recruited and deployed in the area.

But leaders said the operation had not been effected and called on Prof Kindiki to fulfill his promise including recruitment of police reservists.

“When the announcement was made we celebrated that at last the issue of insecurity would be sorted once for all. But a month later the NPR officers have not been recruited and there is no operation which has left us exposed to bandit attacks,” said Dr Mwirabua Thiankunu, a resident.

“The government should let us take care of our security and if they are not going to deploy officers they should allow us to protect ourselves and our animals. We can mobilize ourselves and recover the stolen cattle,” Dr Thiankunu added.

However, Mr Chesire assured residents that police officers would ensure that the bandits were brought to book.

“We have cornered them in that area because officers have been deployed on the Isiolo border and the moment they try to leave we will get them. But the helicopter will also assist us to identify exactly where they are hiding,” he said.