Lamu herders,farmers feud blamed on political incitement

Livestock in Lamu county PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu, KENYA: Police in Lamu have launched investigations into reports that local politicians have been fueling and even funding feuds between farmers and herders in Lamu.

The politicians are said to go round secretly and incite the two sides to fight.

Conflicts between farmers and herders in Witu,Katsaka Kairu,Maisha Masha,Jipendeni,Moa,Hongwe and Hindi areas have become rife especially in recent days with the main bone of contention being the scarcity of pastures.

Speaking in Lamu on Wednesday, county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo and county commander Muchangi Kioi said the police were following up on crucial leads that connect some of the local politicians to the feuds.

They said once the investigations are complete, the culpable politicians will be rounded up, arrested and charged with inciting violence.

Herders are said to deliberately graze their livestock on farms and crops while farmers are said to retaliate by attacking and cutting the animals with pangas and machetes resulting in frequent fights between the two sides.

Things have however scaled up for the worst after it was reported that herders were now attacking farmers in their homes where they have been beating up men and raping women and children.

“We won’t have politicians playing games with people’s lives and the peace of this region.It’s so selfish for anyone to do such a thing.People should learn where to draw the line when it comes to playing politics,” said Kitiyo.

This prompted an impromptu visit by the county commissioner and other security chiefs to the affected areas from which it emerged that the troublesome herders were actually from neighboring Tana River county.

Kitiyo thus formed a committee which has been tasked with ascertaining the real culprits behind the menace who shall then be prosecuted.

Many herders and farmers are nursing serious machete and panga cut wounds due to the escalating conflict.

Kitiyo said it was unfortunate that instead of preaching peace and cohesion amongst their people, politicians were instead responsible for making people fight and kill each other and thus creating an insecure environment for people to live in.

He said it was inhuman for any given person, no matter their social status to tell people to kill each other and even rape women and children and that such a person didn’t even deserve to be called a leader in the first place but that their place was in prison where they can pay for their crimes.

Kitiyo said the government had invested heavily in addressing the Alshabaab challenge in Lamu and restore security and normalcy and that therefore, the security department will not stand by and watch a few individuals play politics with people’s lives and the stability of an entire county for their own selfish gains.

“A person who tells you to go and attack your neighbor and beat them up isn’t qualified to be called a leader.A person who tells you to rape a neighbour’s wife and child doesn’t deserve to walk around freely.They belong to prison.Lamu has been through enough because of Alshabaab but thankfully the security officers here have worked to ensure things change.We won’t stand by and watch some politicians drag us back there.We don’t care for status,we shall round you up and prosecute you,” said Kitiyo.

County commander Muchangi Kioi warned the two sides against taking the law into their own hands and instead encouraged them to pursue alternative dispute resolution strategies and observe respect for each other and property.

Kioi said his office had already trained enough KPR officers who are only waiting to be given guns and other reinforcements after which they shall be deployed to the areas prone to the conflicts.

“All we want is peace and respect for law, life, and property.We will achieve that by any means.We are adding more KPR so you can learn to co-exist after all you all live here.Respect each other.Follow the due process in case one has any complaint and that includes reporting to the police or the local security committee or chiefs.You have no right to take the law into your hands and fight your neighbor.That’s a crime which is punishable by law,” said Kioi.