Leaders organise meeting to address conflict in Laikipia

Monday November 6 2017

LAIKIPIA HERDERS

Police guard the cattle seized at Ole Naishu Ranch in Laikipia County on June 17, 2017 over illegal grazing. Grazing land is a source of conflict between herders and ranch owners. PHOTO | MWANGI NDIRANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By STEVE NJUGUNA
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By SAMWEL OWINO
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Herders have killed eight police officers and injured more than 15 others in Laikipia County in the past six months, a police report has revealed.

According to Laikipia County Commissioner Onesmus Musyoki, the herders have also killed at least 14 civilians this year, due to disputes over grazing land.

The report comes following the shooting of livestock in the county on Wednesday during a police operation.

SHOOTOUT
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has defended the officers, saying herders engaged them in a shootout and used the livestock as shields.

“We have lost eight officers since the security operation began,” said Mr Musyoki in an interview with Nation.

On July 12, six anti-stock theft officers were killed by bandits at Kamwenje, near the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

POLICE INJURED
On February 7, Laikipia West OCPD Moherai Merengo Kibwabwa was shot and seriously injured while driving out herders from Kifuku ranch in Rumuruti.

According to a police officer attached to Rumuruti station, Mr Kibwabwa has not yet recovered.

“The last time I visited him at his home he was on a wheelchair,” the officer said.

At the same time, two lawmakers from Laikipia on Sunday condemned the killing of livestock but dismissed reports that more than 300 cows were shot dead by police.

COMPENSATION
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua and Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru put the figure of the animals killed by police at 25 and called for compensation of the herders.

The leaders also defended the police, saying some herders were heavily armed and used the cattle as shields.

“It is untrue that over 300 cows were shot dead. Our estimation and that of police is that around 25 cows were killed.

"The illegal herders used the cows as shields as they engaged police in a shootout,” Mr Mariru said at Parliament Buildings.

RANCHES
The leaders also called on herders to respect private ranches.  

“We must understand the circumstances under which our police officers also operate while condemning the incident,” Mr Mariru said.

“Do Kenyans know that about 50 people have died and 80 of them injured in the hands of illegal herdsmen?

"We are very clear that the rule of law must be followed. Let the herders respect private property and graze their animals in peace,” he said.

ECONOMY

Mr Mariru said a meeting has been scheduled between leaders from West Pokot, Laikipia, Samburu, Baringo and Isiolo to address the perennial conflict between herders and ranch owners in the county.

However, Wajir East MP Rashid Amin defended the herders, saying the government has over the years been targeting the pastoralist community by using excessive force on them.

He said the police killing of the cattle amounts to economic sabotage.

“If the government’s intension is to curtail the economic activity of the pastoralist community, it should let us know.

"We need justice. What crime did the herders commit? Action must be taken,” the legislator said.