We’re not opposed to security operations, Laikipia ranchers say

Tuesday March 28 2017

Some of the police officers who are patrolling

Some of the police officers who are patrolling Sosian Ranch in Laikipia County in the ongoing security operation. Ranch owners have denied reports that they are opposed to the operation. PHOTO | STEVE NJUGUNA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By STEVE NJUGUNA
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The Laikipia Farmers’ Association has dismissed claims that some commercial ranches and conservancies are interfering with government security operations in Laikipia North and Laikipia West constituencies.

Claims had emerged on the social media that some ranches and conservancies are interfering and opposing the ongoing security operation.

In a statement to the Nation on Monday, the association said that it is supporting police and security agencies in the operation aimed at restoring sanity in parts of the county following vicious invasions by herders from Samburu, Baringo, Isiolo and West Pokot counties.

"The Laikipia Farmers’ Association fully supports the government's decision to effect police and KDF operations to restore law and order in areas that have fallen victim to the violent actions of illegally-armed individuals who have moved their livestock to parts of the county,” said the statement signed by Mr Martin Evans, the chairman of the association.

The association also denied having a hand in the planning and execution of the security operation and also encouraging shooting dead of livestock by the security officers.

NO INFLUENCE

“Our association and its members has absolutely no influence or voice in the operation and anyone suggesting differently is spreading falsehoods.

“The relevant command hierarchies of these security agencies direct the actions of all of their officers who are taking part in these operations,” read the statement.

The association represents private investors, community group ranches, land owners, property managers, and businesses operating 58 enterprises in Laikipia.

"No matter the violence that some of our members have endured since the beginning of the crisis, no one in the association would condone the type of action we are being accused of.

“Along with area resident pastoralists, its smallholder farmers, wildlife, and business community, our members are the victims of this crisis, not its instigators,” the association added.

Ranching activities in the county have created close to 4,000 jobs.

It also helps to drive a Sh4 billion a year economy, pay Sh500 million into social development projects annually, and draw significant foreign direct investment.

According to the association, effective disarmament is the most urgent goal, followed by peaceful dialogue between all affected parties including the owners of the herds illegally grazing on private and communal land in the county.

GET SOLUTION

The association further said that this will help find a permanent solution acceptable to all sides.

"We are ready to help the government in any way that they see fit to re-establish law and order, to seize illegal firearms, to implement cattle movement regulations, and to start discussions so that issues of access to resources never again lead to such violence in Laikipia or anywhere else in Kenya,” added Mr Evans in the press release.

At least 30 people have been killed and hundreds more suffered losses to their livelihoods since the crisis began.

The crisis have also seen herders mostly from the neighbouring Samburu, West Pokot, Isiolo and Turkana drive more than 200,000 cattle, sheep, and goats into the county looking for pasture.

Property worth millions of shillings has also been destroyed as herders invade private ranches, conservancies and private lands in the county.

Unknown number of livestock have been stolen, slaughtered and wildlife poached indiscriminately and with the attackers retaliating using armed force when approached.