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MPs fault government’s approach to taming banditry

Members of Parliament (MPs) from banditry prone areas in the Rift Valley region have faulted government’s approach to taming the vice, saying the approach may not succeed as is it outdated.

The government’s approach includes arrest and summoning of elected leaders to record statements over the banditry attacks with MPs terming the move as intimidating.

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They also lamented they are not being involved in the meetings and tours by senior security personnel.

Speaking when they appeared before the National Assembly Committee of Cohesion, the MPs said resurgence of banditry and cattle rustling cases despite government’s investment in taming the vice was an indication that the tact was bound to fail.

“The government has decided to work on its own in the fight against banditry and cattle rustling. They are not involving leaders and the local community who understand the region better,” said Kacheliba MP Titus Lotee.

The MPs were giving their views on how to permanently eliminate banditry and cattle rustling menace to the House Committee during a session chaired by Yussuf Haji at Parliament Buildings.

Haji said the Committee called for the engagement with MPs from banditry prone regions to discuss ways of ending the criminal activities because they were key stakeholders.

The 20 MPs who attended the meeting were from Laikipia, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana and West Pokot counties.

“The Committee is concerned that despite the government investing heavily in strategies aimed at combating banditry and cattle rustling the menace is still rampant,” said Hon Yussuf

He added that criminal activities were a threat to cohesion and peaceful existence among the communities in the region hence the need for the meeting for leaders from the area to discuss how to deal with the matter.

But the MPs poured their frustration to the Committee on how the government was handling campaigns to make the region a banditry free area.

The MPs told the Committee atleast 74 people have lost their lives in the hands of the bandits despite the heavy presence of security apparatus in the region.

“We have buried 74 people including an elected Member of the County Assembly who were killed by the bandits,” said Naisula Lessuda.

She pointed out that schools in the area have closed because of cases of insecurity.

The Samburu West MP pointed out that scores of others have been left with life threatening injuries as she questioned government’s seriuosness in fighting unsecurity in the region.

Samburu North MP Letipita Eli told the Committee that 2,500 people have been displaced follow unending attacks by bandits.

“Victims who were displaced are suffering and my people are living in fear,” he added.

Hon Titus Lotee (Kacheliba) and Hon Daniel Nanok (Turkana West) they said the government has focused on intimidating, arresting and forcing them to record statements on the matter at the expense of pursuing bandits who operated with impunity.

They also accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Hon. Prof Kithure Kindiki of sidelining them during his visits to areas hit by banditry.

“We wonder the agenda the CS has when he ignores elected leaders like us whenever he visits our constituencies for security meetings…he should involve MPs in his campaigns to fight the vice for him to make any headway,” said Hon. Lotee.

Turkana East MP Hon Nicholas Ngikor said replacing chiefs in the area had contributed to escalating of banditry and cattle rusttling activities.

The MPs however commended the Committee for the peace process it has initiated and committed their support to the initiative.

The chairman commended the leaders for honouring invitation to appear before the Committee to discuss the matter adding that more similar meetings will be held to find a solution.

He added that the Committee will organise a retreat for the MPs and security trams from the regions to find ways of securing the region for economic growth and cohesion among residents.

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