Matiang'i renews war on Coast drug lords, plans crackdown

Wednesday March 18 2020
Matiang'i

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i speaks on the war against drugs in Lamu on March 21, 2019. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By KALUME KAZUNGU

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has renewed the war on drugs in Lamu County and the coastal region at large, noting its impact on security and development.

Dr Matiang'i said the goal is for Lamu to become a drugs-free zone so all efforts will be directed towards the arrest and prosecution of everybody in the business.

He asked the people to stop covering up for drug lords and instead work with police, whom he also warned against working with criminals who have caused Lamu's destruction.

The minister noted that many crimes in the county and the Coast are connected to indulgence in drugs. Many youths are enslaved to various substances, he said while noting the need for all players to unite in their rescue.

MASSIVE CRACKDOWN

Speaking in the county on Thursday, Dr Matiang;i said a "massive crackdown" on drug traffickers will soon be launched hence the need to residents to cooperate with police.

“I am aware that the issue of drugs is a big challenge in Lamu and the Coast. It’s unfortunate that almost half of the young generation is affected by drugs," he said.

"The biggest challenge is that locals don’t want to cooperate wit police by submitting information that can lead to the arrest of drug peddlers and suppliers. You should name them if you know them."

'DEMON'

Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata also advised the people to speak out instead of "sowing bad seed and destroying lives that would otherwise have been saved".

Mr Elungata said police were having a hard time since many people were not willing to give police information that would help them find and punish the drug dealers.

“Let’s work together to chase away this demon. Our intention is to clean up Lamu and the Coast and [protect] future generations against vices that corrode development,” he said.

Reports by the Lamu County security department indicate that youths most heavily dependent on substances including heroin and bhang are in Faza, Kizingitini, Mbwajumwali, Tchundwa, Pate and Myabogi villages, all in Lamu East, and Lamu Island.

The 2018 end-year performance and evaluation report indicates that at least 60 notorious peddlers and 29 rapists and child defilers were captured and prosecuted between January and December that year.

COURT CASES

At a separate occasion in the county, the Judiciary also raised the alarm over increasing drugs-related cases in the region.

High Court Judge Justice Roselyn Korir (Garsen) and Justice Reuben Nyakundi (Malindi) said rampant cases are sufficient proof that the vice is deeply-rooted.

Speaking during the closure of the ‘All for Justice: Closing the Gaps' service week on Thursday, the two proposed strategies including rehabilitating addicts through training programmes.

Ms Korir acknowledged the need for litigation but said addicts should be given chances to reform and become productive.

She also proposed that prison officers across the country be trained in this process and that they pass the skills on to prisoners.

“The government needs to increase the number of rehab centres in the country. It is time we changed the approach used to fight drugs from arresting and prosecuting to equipping people with skills through trainings and general rehabilitation so they can better their lives [when freed],” said Ms Korir.

Mr Nyakundi echoed Ms Korir's remarks and called for the establishment of a High Court in Lamu for the people to have easy access to justice.

“Moving from Lamu to Garsen, which is almost 200 kilometres away, in order to get High Court services is a hard for most locals. We are informed that land is available for the establishment of a High court. I urge the government to consider that," he said.

The service week was organised by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system.