The High Court has extended orders stopping a security operation against Samburu residents in Laikipia.
The operation is aimed at recovering stolen livestock and restoring peace between warring communities.
Justice Edward Muriithi issued the directive in a case in which nearly 10,000 Samburu residents had moved to court to protest indiscriminate punishment against them by security officers.
Through lawyer Harun Ndubi and John Khaminwa, they sued the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, the Interior Cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery, his devolution counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri and the Attorney General.
While the duo insisted that the matter is of urgency and needed to be determined quickly by the court, a state counsel representing the sued parties pleaded with the court to have 21 days to respond to the case.
“In the meantime we cannot allow people’s houses and properties to be burnt, it is for this reason that orders issued stopping the security operation is extended until after the hearing of this case,” Justice Muriithi said.
The judge however directed that the security officers in the operation should adopt less oppressive ways in carrying out their role and asked them to remain on the ground to maintain law and order.
Whilst the judge insisted that the matter is of great urgency and needs to be dealt with in just seven days, the state counsel told court that the government’s position has to be considered hence the request for sufficient time to respond.
The judge also enjoined the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) and the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) as interested parties while the county government of Laikipia as a sued party, in the case.
Samburu leaders including MP Raphael Letimalo and Richard Leiyagu were present in court and condemned police brutality after they left the courtroom.
“We want the law to be maintained but police brutality on innocent residents is beyond reproach. Rogue officers who collect animals from the community in the name of the operation must be stopped the way the court has ordered since it is illegal,” they said.
The case was filed by Mr Lekamario Yiaro on behalf of 10,000 Samburu pastoralists residing in Rumuruti, Pesi, Matigari, Sukuroi, Mpusi, Karashira, Nganoi, Merura, Sosian and Salama wards within Laikipia County.
He claimed that the constitution specifies policy and operational responsibilities between the Interior CS and the IG so that political operatives do not misuse officers as witnessed in the post-independence era.
He claimed that the security operation is supposed to mop out illegal firearms but instead it has discriminatorily targeted members of the Samburu community living in the said areas.
Their lawyers told court that the Somali, Tugen, Pokot and Tukana communities also live in those areas but have not been targeted whenever livestock is confiscated by police.
They argued that the continuous build up of police and GSU officers at Rumuruti since November 26 has caused tension and sleepless nights.
“The Samburu community have lost livestock whose cultural value is immeasurable to them and whose economic value runs into millions of shillings,” Mr Khaminwa said.
The case will be heard on December 19.