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Leaders should let Matiang’i disarm police reservists

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The National Police Reserve (NPR) was established in 1948 as Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) to help the regular police to maintain law and order.

It operates mainly in northern Kenya, especially in conflict-hit areas and community boundaries.

The establishment of NPR was in good faith and it fully served its purpose.

Police reservists created a seamless platform of enhancing peace, security and stability in many parts of the country without the need of putting up many police stations.

The NPR establishment has however been exploited, manipulated and distorted over the years by powerful people in conflict-prone areas to further personal and/or political interests, which many times run parallel to the government’s.

The reservists have been turned into private guards by politicians and provincial administration officials, making them ‘legal bandits’ who commit crimes with impeccable impunity using government-issued firearms.

Last month, Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti publicly confronted a KWS director, Mr Ian Craig, over claims of holding hundreds of government-issued firearms and controlling an armoury in a private conservancy.

In recent months, the county has experienced deadly clashes between pastoralist communities.

The NPRs are said to fight against one another as they protect armed cattle rustlers from their respective communities in the guise of fighting banditry.

Without a doubt, the firearms in the hands of NPRs have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Kenyans but the killers often get away with murder.

Tragically, many NPRs have been killed in these barbaric tribal conflicts but they are not compensated. And government firearms lost in the clashes end up in the hands of bandits.

Corruption, lack of pay and poor regulation has enabled NPRs to operate outside the law for many years, with many communities accusing them of being key facilitators in the booming trade in government bullets with cattle rustlers, fuelling tribal clashes.

Clearly, NPRs are not part of the much-needed security solution in this part of the country.

Indeed, they are part of the deadly insecurity problem that has haunted the north for decades. It is time to change tact.

Despite carrying guns for decades, NPRs have failed to resolve the insecurity menace in their areas of operation.

The government should disarm all members of the NPRs, equip the police appropriately and use intelligence machinery to zero in on the elusive criminal elements.

Political leaders from Turkana, Laikipia, Pokot, Samburu and Baringo should take a step back to allow the government to perform its primary function of providing security to citizens.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i should move with speed to disarm all NPRs across the country — from Suguta Valley to Kapedo, Laikipia to Turbi, Baragoi to Biliqo and Moyale to Mpeketoni.





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