Lamu, KENYA: Linda Boni operation director Joseph Kanyiri has insisted that he is still in charge of the operation despite a reshuffle by Interior CS Fred Matiang’I that saw Kanyiri redeployed as Lamu county commissioner, a position he held before he was appointed to his current post.
The operation is aimed at flushing out al shabaab militants said to be hiding within the dense Boni forest in Lamu.
On Monday, Matiang’i announced that Kanyiri was to take over from Gilbert Kitiyo who has been deployed to Marsabit county.
However, speaking in Lamu on Tuesday, Kanyiri said he was not aware of any redeployment instructions involving himself or any other officer conducting the operation.
Despite the announcement, Kanyiri insists that he is yet to get official communication concerning any changes moving him from his position as Linda Boni director and that before then, he remains the boss.
“As for me, I am not aware of any redeployment instructions involving myself or any other officer in this operation. We are however consulting on the matter. In any case, redeployment of government officers is normal government procedure,” said Kanyiri.
The operation was launched back in 2015 by then Interior CS the late Joseph Nkaisserry on September 15 and is mainly focused on three counties of Lamu,Tana River and Garissa.
It was initially supposed to last 90 days only but had to be extended indefinitely following frequent al shabaab attacks and raids that left many people including security officers dead.
The changes come barely seven months after Kanyiri took over from James ole Seriani on July 19, 2017.
Seriani was redeployed to Harambee House after holding the position for two years.
The reshuffle comes in the wake of increased concerns and criticism over the effectiveness of the operation Linda Boni with critics branding the operation a major flop owing to the increased and continued attacks from al shabaab.
Last year, outgoing coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa poked holes in the operation and questioned why it was taking too long to achieve its mandate despite continued adequate support and reinforcement from the government.
Marwa had then threatened to have officers conducting the operation reshuffled if they didn’t pull up their efforts in the war on al Shabaab in the region.
The reshuffle also comes amidst continued complaints from officers taking part in the operation over unpaid risk and hardship allowances with some even threatening to down their tools.
Last week, Recce officers taking part in the operation said they would quit their jobs if they weren’t paid their hardship allowances amounting to more than Sh.200,000 per officer.
The officers also demanded to be moved out of Lamu after their period in line with the rotation programme lapsed last year August.