Gunmen kill government officer in Wajir town

attackSuspected Al-Shabaab gunmen on Saturday night shot and killed a chief in Wajir town, county police commander Samuel Mukindia confirmed. Speaking on phone, Mr Mukindia said Mohamed Bare Abdullahi, a chief of Erib location in Wajir South sub-County was killed by armed men who accosted him on his way from a local Mosque where he had gone for evening prayers.

The county police chief who described the administrator as a dedicated civil servant said the Chief was shot around 8:45pm just 500 metres from the mosque. “The attackers followed him from behind until he had covered a short distance away from the mosque before opening fire. They seem to know him very well,” he said.

Mr Mukindia, however, said the number of gunmen couldn’t be established. He also said three other people including an assistant chief who were walking with the slain administrator were not hurt in the night incident. This he said shows the assailants knew him well and were determined to eliminate him.

Mr Mukindia said police have launched an investigation into the incident to establish why the chief was killed. However, he said the administrator was not in the list of chiefs in the county who have reported to the local security agencies over threats to their lives from Al-Shabaab and the group’s sympathisers. Police on foot patrol who responded swiftly on hearing the gunshots were unable to confront the assailants even though the attackers fled on foot but took advantage of the cover of darkness to slip away.

Somalia based militant, Al-Shabaab has threatened several local chiefs, their assistants, religious leaders and other civil servants in the three Counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa. On April 23 this year, the militants killed chief Muktar Maalim Ibrahim of Arabia area, Mandera County after pulling him out of vehicle heading to Mandera.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

Kenya seeks global support in its plan to repatriate refugees

refugeesKenya now wants the international community to support its plan to repatriate refugees to their countries of origin. Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, however, said the repatriation would adhere to the international law. In his speech during the World Refugees Day at Kakuma in Turkana County, Mr Nkaissery said the government would also streamline the management of refugees to ensure that only genuine ones are hosted.

“The government will not hesitate to deport anyone who is an asylum shopper as some of them are engaged in criminal activities such as terrorism,” he said. Mr Nkaissery also disclosed that the government was preparing a refugee policy, while the review of the Refugees Act was underway before the Senate. Whereas some refugees were genuine, he said, others were involved in activities that jeopardised the interests of Kenyans such as terrorism.

The government has been pushing for the closure of the two main refugee camps — Kakuma and Daadab — following reports that terrorists had been planning their activities in those campus. Mr Nkaissery’s remarks were read on his behalf by Secretary for Administration Victor Okioma. US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec reaffirmed Washington’s support to the Kenyan government in security efforts and to help asylum seekers to return to their countries voluntarily.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

Pokot warriors abandon cattle rustling and turn to farming

Pokot warriors are turning to the most unlikely source of livelihood that has seen some guns fall silent: farming. When his herd of cattle and flock of sheep were stolen by cattle rustlers years ago, 54-year-old Ekuam Ng’asike rediscovered his passion for agriculture – thanks to funding from the government and humanitarian agencies in the banditry-prone agro-pastoralist area. pokot farming

The father of four, a former cattle rustler from West Pokot County, has now teamed up with a group of reformed warriors to form Kaputir Resource Management Association (Karma) to advance their economic achievements through irrigated agriculture. “The going was not easy after venturing into agriculture, a field that I had little knowledge about. At one point I thought of giving up, but I had no other source of livelihood for my family,” Mr Ng’asike told the Nation. “ I contemplated giving up, but I had to soldier on, and you can see where I am now,” said My Ng’asike as he inspected his crop ready for the market in Lodwar Town and other parts of semi-arid Turkana county.

CATTLE RUSTLING

The region has traditionally been synonymous with cattle rustling as an economic activity but not any more as the people have now substituted their guns for jembes, raking in millions from agriculture. Most horticultural crops produced in West Pokot County are sold in Nairobi, Kitale, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kakamega, Lodwar and Mombasa. With the millions they are making, the people are appealing to banks to set up branches there. “I make good sales every day, but at the end of the business, I have to take home the cash for lack of banks,” said Ezekiel Ndururu, a farmer.

He sometimes puts his money under the mattress or ends up squandering it because he knows that he will make more the following day. This is a situation he could avoid if he had a bank account. To cut down on production costs and achieve better bargaining power, the herdsmen-turned farmers have formed a group of 250 members, 72 of whom are supported by the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), an American development agency, to cultivate various food crops on the banks of River Turkwel.

Other groups – Kapelbok and Nayaliira at Kaptir location in Turkana South sub-county – are cultivating maize, sorghum and finger millet and various types of vegetables. “We have enough food supplies, and we can now afford to take our children to school from the revenue we make from the crops,” said Akoru Ewoi, who has planted two acres of land next to River Turkwel planted with vegetables and sorghum. Peter Emuria Eleon, chairman of Naoyaregae group, said he earned over Sh45,000 from half an acre of onions, sukuma wiki and capsicum after investing Sh15,000. The government allocated Sh16 billion in the last financial budget for irrigated agriculture to increase crop production and attain food security.

FORMED GROUPS

“We formed groups to access funds from the government and other development partners and venture into crop production which has proved lucrative,” said Mr Eleon. “It took many years involving field tours to agricultural farms such as Delamare in Naivasha to learn how to do it,” said Peter Edapal Epem of Kapelbok group.

“What I have achieved is impressive, and I have never regretted diversifying into crop production.” “We have never looked back since going into irrigation farming after losing most of our animals to cattle rustlers and drought,” Mr Eleon said. The success story of farmers operating under the umbrella of Karma has inspired other pastoralists along River Kerio to invest in agriculture.

“Cereal and vegetable cultivation has proved to be a wonderful investment in the region,” Mr Ng’asike said. “I feel more secure after switching to crop production to supplement my income.” David Mukhwana, a trader from Kakamega who buys onions from Ortum, said there was need for banks to consider setting up branches at the market because traders like him fill insecure walking with money for long distances to buy the produce from the farmers.

He said that, the onions from Ortum are sold in major cities and towns in the country as well as in Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan. As a result of the booming business, there are three consecutive onion market days in Ortum; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. According to the farmers, the entire East African region depends on onions from Tanzania, Ortum and Mount Elgon. Farmers ferry their onion produce on donkeys from their farms to Ortum market where the traders buy and ferry them to different markets.

Jackson Lemaken, an onion farmer from Kabalaka area in Ortum cited the poor state of roads from the farms to the market as another big challenge that they are facing. “Since the roads are in a dilapidated state, we have to use donkeys to deliver the onions from the farms to the market but sometimes the animals collapse and die on the way because of the bad terrain,” Lemaken said.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

Child warriors initiated into banditry by lure of easy money

Boys as young as 12 are being recruited as fighters in the volatile areas of northern Kenya prone to banditry, cattle rustling and ethnic conflicts. The turning of young boys into armed killers has alarmed the county administration. The revelations came against the backdrop of claims that teaching has been paralysed in 25 primary schools due to insecurity. According to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), 37,000 school children have been affected.

A Kenya Police reservist, Mr Symon Kiburet, said he and colleagues on security patrols had been ambushed several times by bandits as young as 14, who appeared well-trained and conversant with firearms. “Ready markets are contributing to rampant cattle rustling because whenever they strike they go and sell the animals immediately so as not to be arrested,” he said.

Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo confirmed that youngsters between ages 12 and 17 were in possession of illegal firearms and have been carrying out violent raids in the region, mostly in Tiaty Sub-County. “Adult raiders are more tactical but juveniles shoot (indiscriminately) because most of them want to satisfy their curiosity, thus leading to senseless killings,” said Mr Okwanyo.armed boy

PAY BRIDE PRICE

The Nation team that visited some of the bandit areas on Saturday saw boys as young as eight walking around with rifles resting on their shoulders. “Cases of bandits killing people senselessly without taking anything are rampant in this county because the ones doing such are young children,” said Mr Okwanyo.

Many of the boys drop out of school in Standard Five, after which they marry. Because there is no other source of income to pay more than 200 cows for the bride price, they resort to raiding neighbouring communities, he said. “We have already devised a strategy of mitigating against such retrogressive cultures through empowering youths by recruiting them to the National Youth Service so that they can acquire skills and discard such crimes,” said Mr Okwanyo.

His counterpart, Baringo South Sub-County Commissioner Felix Kisalu, urged parents to keep an eye on their children to prevent them from being used by criminal elements. According to Mr Kisalu, politicians have been recruiting youngsters to take part in cattle raids. “It is disappointing because the young bandits end up being rewarded with petty cash by the masterminds or they sell the stolen livestock at a throw-away price,” he said.

“That is gross violation of children’s rights,” he said, and pledged to bring to book those who use youngsters to cause violence. “Retrogressive culture should not be used to infringe the rights of our children,” he said. Mr Kisalu also asked parents to invest in their children’s education as one way of ending the perennial problem of banditry, which has also led to many children dropping out of school.

STOLE EQUIPMENT

According the Baringo Knut branch secretary, Mr Charles Kamuren, no meaningful learning went on in the schools in the first two months of the second term due to insecurity. Some of the schools will require reconstruction after the bandits vandalised them and stole some equipment and materials, including iron sheets and solar panels.

Herders in parts of Baringo County said the security personnel stationed in the area could not contain the large number of raiders who also have sophisticated weapons. A parent from the volatile Chemoe area in Baringo North Sub-County, Mr Richard Chepchomei, raised concerns about schoolchildren in Tiaty Sub-County opting for the gun rather than the pen.

“Banditry has gone a notch higher in this area because it seems these children are being used by masterminds as a way of scaring away residents so that they get chance of expanding territories. It is unfortunate because innocent lives are lost,” said Mr Chepchomei. He urged the government to apprehend the masterminds and the political elite suspected to be taking advantage of the illiterate youngsters.

He accused security officers of being lenient with bandits. Suspected armed raiders are often arrested but soon after are seen roaming the villages, committing the same crimes, he claimed. “Some of them are known and their names have been submitted to the county administration yet none of them has been arrested, let alone being summoned,” said Mr Chepchomei.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

ABOUT PDNK

Pastoralist Development Network - of Kenya

We are an advocacy NGO established under a Trust deed number 791 DI 4453128 in 2003. The network is a conglomeration of 60 pastoralists’ individuals, NGOs and CBOs and non-pastoralist institutions and individuals supporting pastoralists’ development process in Kenya. It draws its membership from North Rift, South Rift, North Eastern and Upper Eastern regions of Kenya representing 14 pastoralist Counties. Its mission is to lobby for the inclusion of the pastoralist agenda in mainstream development with the vision of a prosperous pastoralist society.

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