No space for criminals in the forest, sub county commissioner says

Marakwet East Sub County commissioner Stephen Sangolo has said the security officers will continue smoking out criminals from the local forest.

He said the criminals were hiding behind the Sengwer community while engaging in illegal activities in the forestthinking the authorities cannot distinguish between the Sengwer and other people.

We are only dealing with criminals who are illegally in the forest, if you are an illegal logger, land speculator who has grabbed acres of land in the forest and hiring it out, stealing other peoples’ livestock, illegally settling in the forest then the authority will deal with you, he said.

Sangolo dismissed claims that Sengwer community was being evicted and their houses burned down by security officers saying that forest dwellers were compensated in 2014 and moved out of the forest. So where is this thinking that people are being moved out of the forest coming from? he paused.

He called on the community members who claim their houses are being destroyed to come out and show the authorities their homes in the forest.

The Sub county commissioner who spoke to KNA on phone from his offices in Chesoiadvised organizations advocating for the rights of the community to visit the ground and find out the truth instead of working and drawing conclusions in the comfort of their offices.

The other day officers from human right offices came and sat outside our offices and called their offices in Nairobi just outside our office saying they are on the ground, they should also be ethical, he added.

He said the security team is investigating the organizations advocating for the rights of forest dwellers. Some of these organizations we are investigating may be involved in contributing to proliferation of small arms in the forest, he said.

He said the security team is investigating the death of a Sengwer community member alleged to have been killed in the forest by Kenya Forest Services (KFS) officers on Tuesday while herding his livestock.

Paul Kiptuga one of the leaders who has been opposing eviction of the Sengwer community from the forest said their lives are in danger since the KFS officers are now targeting them for defending the rights of their community.

Iam now hiding in the bushes all because of our stand in protecting our rights, said Kiptuga adding that many Sengwers have been injured and their huts destroyed.

Source: Kenya News Agency