What you need to know:
- Eldoret-based human rights activist Kimutai Kirui said he has received death threats from the gang and survived an attempted abduction.
- The activist said when the education airlift issue came to the fore, the county enforcement team was sent to arrest him.
They rule the streets of Eldoret town with impunity, ready to pounce on anyone critical of the county administration and unleash terror on their targets in the full glare of the public.
The gang, which is allegedly led by a senior official within the county inspectorate department is said to have planted spies across the town to collect information. Those who have come out to denounce the gang have faced death threats.
In the wake of the botched Finland and Canada education programmes and subsequent protests, the gang has unleashed unprecedented terror on those who were calling out the county over the scam. Parents and students are said to have been threatened and profiled.
During one of the press briefings on the saga at the county headquarters, politician Kipkorir Menjo was ejected by the gang as he was accused of siding with victims.
“They did not want me to be at the meeting, accusing me of being critical to the administration. I had to take off because they were agitated and they were ready to harm me,” Mr Menjo recalled.
“This is something we have never witnessed and this should be put to a stop. Governor Jonathan Bii should deal with rogue officers within the inspectorate department who have been intimidating and physically abusing the traders and members of the public,” he added.
Eldoret-based human rights activist Kimutai Kirui said he has received death threats from the gang and survived an attempted abduction.
“I met the gang leader when we dealt with street family issues after they were arrested and taken to the rescue centre. I was opposed to the manner the street families were being handled. I was called and told to keep off or face unspecified consequences,” he said.
“But I pressed on, requesting an overhaul of the county enforcement department, including wearing official uniforms when executing their work and being accompanied by police officers. Then the gang leader and his team started threatening me using goons on social media ... When the gang leader threatened to kill a magistrate we came out and demanded his arrest,” he added.
The activist said when the education airlift issue came to the fore, the county enforcement team was sent to arrest him.
“After the first demonstration, the gang wanted me ejected from a town hall meeting attended by Senator Jackson Mandago and Governor Bii, but parents threatened to walk out. They waited for me and attempted to abduct me and bundle me into a waiting county vehicle but members of the public and the press who filmed the incident foiled the attempt that was led by the senior official in the inspectorate,” he said.
He added: “The county should stop profiling and threatening parents not to demand their dues. Threats to the media not to unearth ills should stop because media freedom is a human right. Threats against civil society should stop,” he said.
When the matter was raised, Mr Bii promised administrative action against the officers implicated. He, however, said there was no gang operating in the county, adding that enforcement officers would receive new uniforms.
“All the county askaris will have to operate in new uniforms for identification purposes to stop further harassment of traders and members of the public,” he said.
“Former askaris who were kicked out for misconduct have been going around harassing the business community while claiming to work for the devolved unit. They are responsible for tainting the image of our diligent officers,” said the governor.
He warned that he will personally ensure county enforcement officers who will be found guilty of acts of lawlessness are dealt with according to the law.