In Summary
  • County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi said his officers will now confiscate goods and prosecute those found to be flouting the ban.
  • The government will be vetting the politicians’ financial accounts and their investments to check if they have laundered money.

Fears over a new secessionist outfit benefiting from contraband trade have fuelled Kenya’s swift move to shut down its border with Somalia.

On Tuesday, the Kiunga border point in Lamu County became the latest to be closed as Kenyan authorities argued they were blocking routes for smuggling, terror merchants and human trafficking.

County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi said his officers will now confiscate goods and prosecute those found to be flouting the ban, in an area that has already been red-pencilled for Al-Shabaab activity.

Only security agents will be allowed across the border point. “Apart from security concerns, we are also aware of human and narcotics trafficking. That must stop. It is now a crime and for those who do not know, the border remains closed until further notice,” said Mr Kioi.

“Those smuggling contraband items from Kenya into Somalia and vice-versa will have themselves to blame. We will destroy those items and close your shop. We will also arrest and prosecute you.”

VETTING

While Mr Kioi implements the government directive in Lamu, senior officials were meeting in Nairobi to discuss the emerging outfit known as the Northern Frontier District Independence Party, a mysterious movement whose members brand themselves as “freedom fighters”.

The meeting, which brought together security chiefs and diplomats, analysed the participation of certain politicians from the north eastern region in the group, and how smuggling is aiding the nascent secessionist claim.

Some local politicians, most of who lost in the 2017 General Election, have been fingered for holding meetings among the Somali community in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia — where the idea of secession was reintroduced.

As part of the crackdown, the Nation learnt, the government will be vetting the politicians’ financial accounts and their investments to check if they have laundered money.

SOCIO-POLITICAL PARTY

The group, whose actual membership is unknown, has recently been active on social media, reviving the old claim for secession, which was crushed at Kenya’s independence.

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