Samburu leaders seek state intervention to return stolen livestock

Samburu County Governor Jonathan Lelelit speaks after visiting affected families in Kom area along the borders of Samburu and Isiolo County

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

Samburu leaders have demanded the unconditional return of animals stolen by suspected thieves from neighbouring Isiolo County.

Samburu Governor Jonathan Lelelit, Senator Steve Lelegwe, Samburu East MP Jackson Lentoijoni and village elders want the government to ensure that about 700 animals are returned.

They said returning the animals, the main source of residents’ livelihoods, was the only way of avoiding retaliation.

On Monday, rustlers stormed Kom, on the Samburu-Isiolo border, and drove away hundreds of cattle. Governor Lelelit said dozens of families were left destitute by the loss of the animals.

"We just ask the government to help return the livestock to owners here. They are reeling under the shock of losing all livestock because they entirely depend on them for a living," the governor said, as he asked herders not to retaliate.

"We have asked our people not to retaliate because we are peace-loving citizens. We just ask the government to intervene and help locals get back their livestock."

The leaders said they will pursue peaceful methods of recovering the animals. Senator Lelegwe asked acting Inspector-General of Police Noor Gabow to help recover the animals, arguing that the government has the machinery to do so.

"We are therefore asking the acting Inspector-General to send troops to recover the livestock. Tens of families here do not know their fate, because they entirely depend on these animals for a living," Dr Lelegwe said.

Mr Lentoijoni asked the government to reinstate Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) to help combat cattle rustling. He argued that police reservists would help respond to attacks alongside mainstream security agencies like the Anti Stock Theft Unit.

Armed police drive 400 head of cattle past Archer’s Post in Samburu East on March 5 during an operation to recover animals. Photo/ FILE

"We need the reservists back to help these police officers because they are not enough,” he said, adding that bandit attacks went down when reservists were armed.

He urged the national government to find a long-term solution to endemic cattle theft in Samburu County.

Last month, President William Ruto claimed that elaborate mechanisms were in place to end banditry in parts of northern Kenya. He spoke to the media after being announced winner of the presidential election.

He lamented that thousands of people had been affected over the years by insecurity in Baringo, the Kerio Valley, Samburu, Turkana and Marsabit.

"We have a time-bound plan to secure bandit-prone areas. We will shortly let the country know what we have in place to secure the lives and protect the people of Kenya," Dr Ruto said.

Dr Ruto had earlier alleged that the Jubilee administration's move to withdraw NPRs from bandit-prone areas of the Rift Valley was a ploy to punish him. He spoke during the presidential debate on 26 July and claimed that the 2019 decision was politically motivated.

"I have even used my personal resources to deal with that situation because I know it was a political agenda. The withdrawal of NPR was an unfortunate act but because it was intended to punish William Ruto,” he alleged.


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