Residents of Kulamawe in Isiolo South Constituency together with their leaders have protested following Monday’s joint security operation by officers from Igembe North in Meru County in which three people sustained serious injuries.
Isiolo South MP Abdi Tepo Koropu and Kinna MCA Isaack Fayo, who led the protest, condemned the joint operation by officers from the General Service Unit, Administration, regular and anti-stock theft unit, accusing them of using excessive force and live bullets during their mission to recover stolen goats.
The leaders called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa), office of the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Inspector-General of Police and the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to move with speed and investigate the matter and prosecute the “rogue” officers.
But Isiolo County Commissioner John Ondego denied claims of police brutality, saying the locals resisted, attacked and pelted the officers with stones.
He said residents should not defend livestock theft or protect suspected rustlers, adding that security has been beefed up.
But the residents argued that the officers opened fire at Kulamawe shopping centre while they were searching for suspected rustlers but later proceeded to the nearby livestock watering point where they engaged herders as they attempted to forcibly take their goats.
The three herders who were injured are, coincidentally, relatives of a high ranking police officer working in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County who hails from the area and whose goats were targeted by the security personnel.
The Isiolo South MP also accused the officers of shooting directly at houses, mosques and shops, causing destruction and panic among its occupants and pupils of Kulamawe Primary School.
On his part, Mr Fayo said more than 100 spent bullet cartridges were recovered both in the township and at the livestock watering point.
The leaders, who vowed to sue the government for the atrocities meted on Kulamawe residents, claimed that the officers from neighbouring Meru County stormed the village without notifying their Isiolo counterparts. They termed the operation as inappropriate.
“The officers failed to adhere to administration protocol and stormed the village in three vehicles shooting aimlessly at the residents who scampered for safety. This is uncalled for and we asked the DCI to investigate the matter and bring the rough security team to book,” said Mr Koropu.
Mr Roba Galgalo, Garbatulla Sub-County peace committee chairman questioned the motive behind the operation as elders had already tracked down and surrendered 95 out of the 100 goats stolen on January 1, adding that they were in the process of searching for the remaining five.
No deaths were reported during the incident.
The village which is still in panic sits along the Isiolo-Garbatulla road and has been the subject of conflicts owing to cattle rustling.
Local also accused county and sub-county administrators of sleeping on their jobs, saying such a “brutal” operation was conducted behind their backs within their jurisdiction.
The MP regretted that bullets procured using tax payers’ money are used to inflict pain and cause havoc among innocent members of public.
Mr Fayo, also the Isiolo county assembly Majority Leader, alleged that the same treatment ought to be administered whenever livestock from Isiolo’s side are stolen by rustlers from Meru County.
“Locals have been traumatised and are living in fear following the operation. [The perpetrators of] such atrocities should be brought to book, they should not go scot free,” said Mr Fayo.
The leaders pledged to lobby for the transfer of security officers from Isiolo who do not discharge their duties accordingly.