By Boniface Mwangi via FB
Guns are big business in Kenya. The cattle rustling in North Rift, North Eastern and Upper Eastern is fueled by more than 600,000 illicit arms circulating in Kenya, according to the Government. Cows are stolen, transported to middle men, who slaughter and sell them as meat. We even export meat from stolen cows.
The government admits some of the illegal arms find their way into Kenya’s urban cities, increasing insecurity. The government has failed to disarm the pastoralists because most of the illegal arms they have are for self-defense.
The government has announced a 90-day rigorous verification of all firearm certificates and this is why.
In that chaos of illegal guns comes the real profiteers in the guns business, senior police officers and gun dealers. The Kenyan government is hiding a very dark secret, the people who are responsible to vet licensed gun holders are the ones who have been selling firearm certificates. A police commissioner who was going on retirement gave thousands of pre-signed firearm certificates to companies selling firearms and, on top of that, gave a “friend” a license to sell firearms. Those certificates, signed by the police commissioner, were being sold at Sh500,000/- each. Any rich person who could afford it, could buy and get a firearm certificate the same day. There are only 15,000 legitimate firearm holders in Kenya. The firearms bureau estimates close to 5,000 additional firearms are in circulation, under fake firearm certificates, and an ordinary police officer cannot identify them as fake, because they come from the same source as the legitimate ones. The going rate for a gun and fake firearm certificate is Sh500,000 each and it’s approximated that over 5,000 firearms have been sold so far. That translates to Sh2.5 billion split between the senior police officer, who pre-signed the firearm certificates, and the gun sellers. That’s not taking into account bullets sold for target practice.
A new board compromising members from the National Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, National Intelligence Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and private gun owners association, was formed to clean up the mess. Then, without the knowledge and sanction of the rest of the members of the now recently disbanded board, two of its members issued over 1,000 firearm certificates at Sh500,000 each and 15 new firearm dealer licenses at Sh10 million each, including to a Chinese company. The two board members made over Sh700 Million from the exercise.
There are thousands of rich Kenyans carrying fake firearm certificates. So Matiang’i wants to clean that mess, but will he go after those who sold the fake licenses? Matiang’i’s action of disbanding and forming a new board isn’t enough. The Director of Criminal Investigations and Director of Public Prosecutions should prosecute anyone who was involved in the sales of fake firearm certificates. Disbanding the board without punishing the people who brought the mess won’t work. Their selfish and illegal actions must be punished.
The firearm dealers who were the conduit for fake licenses are still in business and none of them has been penalized. Three investigative teams from Directorate of Criminal Investigations have done investigations and money has exchanged hands to bury the truth.
Will Matiang’i go after firearm dealers who sold fake firearm certificates with the full knowledge of National Intelligence Service and Directorate of Criminal Investigations? Will the insiders in the trade of fake firearm certificates be prosecuted? Now you know how rich boys who flash guns in clubs, conmen, loan sharks and drug dealers got their firearm licenses. Meanwhile, genuine applicants willing only to pay the required Sh2,000 application fees, are delayed and, most times, denied the license.