Police in Tana River have warned over smuggling of foreigners mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia to inflate population during the upcoming. census as the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) expected be involved in security operations in terror prone areas of Lamu county.
Officials say unidentified people, possibly politicians, are trafficking aliens to their respective villages in efforts to inflate population in the areas.
In an interview, Tana River County police boss Fredrick Ochieng said a number of people were being transported from Somalia and Ethiopia through Bura sub-county.
'We have intelligence report of some people planning to smuggle foreigners of mostly Somalia and Ethiopian origin to increase population of people in their respective wards and constituencies,” he said.
Mr Ochieng said police manning a checkpoint on the Garissa-Madogo road arrested six people of Ethiopian origin, who were on their way to Tana River.
He said the six male adults are part of a larger group who gained access into the country without proper documents.
The county commander said his team are searching for more aliens. He warned leaders involved in the illegal activity of serious repercussions.
Further, Mr Ochieng called on residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious persons they see in their villages.
The revelations come at a time when leaders in Tana River have been gripped with panic over recommendation in the referendum seeking to merge Bura and Galole constituencies over lack of required population enough to make a constituency.
According to a report made by the interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission, a constituency should have a population of 133,138 people.
It, however, allows for a constituency to be less or more than the quota on special occasions based on geographical features and urban centres; community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties; and means of communication.
In 2009, some 27 constituencies were allowed to exist despite not meeting their various population quotas of 93,196.6 and 79,882.8.
Galole and Bura were among the 27 with a population of 60,866 and 82,454 respectively.
Leaders from the two constituencies have been edging campaigns against merging of the two constituencies, with sources revealing a possible exaggerated count in villages.
Elsewhere, residents in terror prone areas in Lamu have been assured of security during the upcoming census.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the military and personnel from the National Youth Service will be fully involved in securing areas that are prone to Al-Shabaab attacks.
The areas include Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe, all of which are within Boni forest where a multi-agency security operation Linda Boni, meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding inside the dense forest has been ongoing since September, 2015.
Other areas where massive security deployment will be witnessed during the period of census include Kiunga and Ishakani on the border of Lamu and Somalia.
The areas are also within the Linda Boni Security Operation zone.
Mr Macharia advised residents to cooperate with the census personnel by ensuring they open their doors during the census night, answer all the questioned correctly so that the country can achieve an exact, reliable and accurate population data for the purpose of planning for the development of the country and its people.
“We’ve done enough public sensitization in Lamu and we’re well prepared for the census. On the issue of security, we’ve ensure all places are well secured. We’ve even involved the KDF and Kenya Navy in ensuring places that require serious security protection. The residents in those areas should be assured that their security is guaranteed,” said Mr Macharia.
The county commissioner however warned locals against accepting conmen who might come earlier or even after the set census dates and knock their doors at night while posing as census officials.
He stressed that census night will only be on August 24-25 and any individual who will visit them earlier or even after the set dates will be fake.
“If anyone comes knocking your doors at night while identifying themselves as a census officials, especially after the night of August 24-25, kindly don’t allow them. Instead, contact your area chief, police or even my office directly so that those conmen can be arrested and prosecuted,” said Mr Macharia.
He also warned journalists, government officials and even politicians against revealing census data shortly after the exercise is conducted.