MP arrested over alleged invasion of private ranches

Chief killed in Baringo
Baringo Security Operatios

Laikipia North Member of Parliament, Mathew Lempurkel, has been arrested for allegedly invading private ranches in his constituency.

The MP was arrested on Tuesday, March 7 afternoon outside Parliament buildings and taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters for interrogation.

Lempurkel, who was taken to Nanyuki for further interrogation, was due to address a news conference over insecurity in Laikipia following the invasion of ranches in his constituency leading to the death of Sossian Ranch Director, Tristan Voorspuy.

Deputy President, William Ruto, who was in Rumuruti area of Laikipia County ordered security officers in Laikipia and Baringo counties to round-up school going children who are herding livestock and ensure they are enrolled in school.

This comes just hours after police arrested more than 300 illegal grazers in Laikipia County following the brutal killing of Voorspuy.

While making the announcement, Interior Cabinet Secretary, Major Gen. (Rtd.) Joseph Nkaissery, on Monday also indicated that the government is tracking down the financiers of the violence, which is believed to be politically instigated.

“As I speak to you the police have already arrested 379 illegal grazers who are being processed in accordance to the law,” he said.

The man at the helm of the country’s security said police have now driven herders from 16 ranches, adding that he blames local leadership for the continued violence.

“Local political leaders have contributed to this tension by making inflammatory statements and sometimes even inciting headers to break the law,” he added.

The Laikipia Rancher Association members led by Martin Evans have, however, linked the conflict to pastoralists from the neighbouring Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo counties who have invaded ranches in Laikipia in search of pasture.

This comes just a day after Sosian Ranch Director Tristan Voorspuy was shot dead at the expansive farm in Laikipia County.

The former British army officer, who is a co-owner of the expansive ranch, had reportedly traveled to the ranch from Nakuru Town to witness the damage on the property following the torching of a lodge by pastoralists.

The herders are reported to have attacked the ranch on Friday night and torched several cottages.

Voorspuy’s killing took places amid reports of the bandits’ attempts to shoot down a police chopper conducting surveillance on the farm.

Pastoralists from Baringo, Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu counties are on the rampage invading private properties in search of food and water for their animals as the drought situation in the country worsens.

Deadly conflicts between pastoralist communities in the dry region have also been reported.

Laikipia Deputy Governor, Gitonga Kabugi, however, says the insecurity crisis in the county has been enraged mainly by drought, land ownership issues, and politics.

The region has become a haven for bandits and poachers with local conservancies and lodges registering huge losses as visitors keep away due to insecurity

“You will get 20 years in prison and a fine of Ksh 20 million,” warned CS Judy Wakhungu.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has, however, assured tourists and players in the industry that their interests will be protected.

“I want to ensure our tourism partners that the government is on top of this, we’ve been having consultations and we will get to the bottom of it,” he said.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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