NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – Leaders drawn from the North Rift region are up in arms following the withdrawal of National Police Reservists last week by the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, a decision they claim was influenced by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.
Led by Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, the leaders say 20 people have been killed since the withdrawal, four of whom lost their lives on Friday morning while more than 30 schools have been closed and hundreds of livestock stolen.
Governor Nanok said the security leadership led by CS Matiangi and IG Mutyambai have lost touch with reality, saying no person was consulted before reservists were withdrawn leaving thousands of residents prone to attacks by armed bandits.
“The withdrawal of NPR was done suddenly without any consultations with leaders and communities affected yet it is the same people who had requested additional security in places we don’t have police officers,” Nanok said.
“Other than this being a solution, it has become a much bigger problem.”
Addressing journalists, the leaders who included Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said they have sought an appointment with President Uhuru Kenyatta next week to discuss what they termed as catastrophic events.
They dismissed the government’s move to deploy what they termed as a high-security team to the troubled areas terming it as a mere public relations exercise that won’t address the outstanding issues.
Senator Murkomen asked CS Matiangi to allow the police to work independently “without his interference”.
The areas worst hit includes North Rift region, specifically in Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana and Laikipia counties, due to cattle rustling and other criminal acts over the past two months.
“The government strongly condemns the incitement to violence and the illegal possession of firearms, which have seen an escalation of inter-communal attacks leading to loss of lives, maiming, and destruction of property and livelihoods,” read a statement by the Interior Ministry on Thursday.
“The persistent elements of misconduct and inter-communal squabbling have contributed to instability in the region thereby prompting the government to take urgent action on this matter.”
A security team led by the Secretary of Internal Security, GSU Commandant, and the RDU Commandant has since been dispatched to the area “as a precursor of stiff measures set to be undertaken to curb further escalation of the sad state of affairs.”