Herders who have invaded private farms in Mwingi, Kitui County, have been ordered to vacate the area with immediate effect or face forceful eviction.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki warned the pastoralists who have recently sparked violent clashes with local farmers leading to the death of at least two area residents that police will be deployed to flush them out if they fail to comply with the directive.
Speaking in Mandongoi Primary school in Mwingi North Constituency, the CS who was accompanied by area leaders said with the onset of the rain season, herders from neighbouring counties could no longer hide behind the search for pasture and water to invade private farms.
“No one has the permission to graze their livestock wherever they want without the consent of the owners of those fields. All the grazers and herds people must leave this place before we get to them,” the Prof. Kindiki said.
The directive follows recent flare-ups between armed herders and local farmers who accuse the pastoralists of deliberately driving camels and other livestock into farms and thereby destroying crops.
The CS said that a crack operation has been launched to back up the directive until the last herder is driven out.
“I want to challenge the criminals who think they have better weapons, tactics or instruments of violence than the government to dare face us. We will follow them anywhere they are. We won’t leave this area until we end this menace.”
In line with Section 61 of the National Police Service Act, the CS said the Government will protect security officers who will deploy the necessary force, including the use of firearms, to enforce compliance with the directive.
“We cannot wait for another death or crisis before we act. Neither will have a discussion with criminals. Use all the available means to protect the lives and property of peace-loving Kenyans. The government will defend you.”
Prof. Kindiki further directed the immediate recruitment and training of 250 National Police Reservists (NPR) to beef up security in the area to complement the operations of other security personnel already on the ground.
He gave the Kitui County security team, in consultation with the Inspector General of Police, two weeks to undertake the exercise and to draw up a strategy to address a long lasting solution to insecurity in the area.
Prof. Kindiki however cautioned area residents against taking the law unto their hands saying they risked legal consequences for their acts and that such acts could fuel retaliatory attacks.
The CS also said the Government will immediately release Ksh1 million for the completion of a police post under construction in the area to host more police officers to be deployed in the area.
The CS also said the government will increase relief food in the area with prioity given to schools and boarding learning institutions.