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Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua addresses leaders and officers during a meeting of leaders from the Upper Eastern Region on Ending Illicit Brew and Substance Abuse at Kirubia Stadium, Tharaka Nithi County | PHOTO-Courtesy

By Gerald Mutethia

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has given security teams in the Eastern region ten days to show the results in the fight against illicit brew and substance abuse.

Gachagua hit out at police officers who take bribes to protect drug and illicit alcohol dealers.

Speaking at Kirubia Stadium in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County during a stakeholders’ forum to deliberate on ending illicit brew and substance abuse in the Eastern Region (Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Isiolo, Embu, and Marsabit), the DP called on the officers to act as parents and protect the interests of children in the country.

“God has a way of punishing people. If you take bribes for drugs to spoil other people’s children, there’s a God in heaven. You too have children and you have relatives,” he said.

Gachagua told the police, chiefs, and their assistants to work and deliver results.

While speaking at the same conference, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki warned police and members of the county administration against protecting drug peddlers anywhere in the country.

“Chiefs, assistant chiefs and police officers receiving protection money from illicit alcohol brewers or peddlers of drugs are agents of killers and do not deserve their security management positions. We will not transfer them. We will sack them,” Kindiki said.

Kindki said chiefs, assistant chiefs, and police officers receiving protection money from illicit brewers or peddlers of drugs would be treated as agents of killers.

“They do not deserve their security management positions. We will not transfer them. We will sack them. If we don’t take immediate, conclusive, and ruthless steps to deal with those who manufacture, distribute, and sell poisonous alcoholic drinks and drugs, we risk losing an entire generation,” Kindiki said.

Kindiki argued that the same risks terrorists and bandits pose to the country are the same if not worse, as those posed by criminals who manufacture, distribute, and sell these illicit alcohol and narcotics.

The Deputy President who ordered an immediate crackdown, said by June 22, 2023, a review meeting will be held to examine the progress made.

This, he said, will help identify gaps and possible enhancement areas for success.

“Within 10 days, the over 2,800 illegal establishments of alcohol in the region must be brought down and owners prosecuted. A decision has been made that alcohol and drugs are threats to our nation. After that meeting, we will allow those who could have not done much to go home and rest,” the DP said.

Gachagua warned that police officers and chiefs who will be found condoning illicit brew and drugs in their areas will be sacked.

while addressing fears raised by the officers who said they face threats in their work, the DP said the government will protect them from all forms of threats and intimidation in their war against illegal alcohol and substance abuse.

“We have held such meetings in Nyeri, Nakuru, and today here in Chuka. We are headed to Coast and Western Regions. That tells you of the Government’s commitment to this matter. In this fight, you are more than protected,” he said.

“There will be no calls from anybody. President William Ruto will not call you, Professor Kithure Kindiki (Interior Cabinet Secretary), or  Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome. I won’t call you. Ignore all other calls. If anyone threatens you, find a way of reaching out to us.”

Gachagua said as a result of the operation, the officers may be sued.

“We will offer you a State lawyer to defend you in court if you are prosecuted. But you must work within the law,” he said.

He challenged them to acquaint themselves with the Constitution, Penal Code, and other legal frameworks to protect their operations.

“Next week, I will meet the Judiciary, Independent commissions, and other independent institutions to table your challenges on the prosecution. We know Chief Justice Martha Koome will listen because she is a mother. We will get results,” Gachagua said.

The Deputy President said the government is aware that some police officers are into drugs and alcohol. The Government is working to rehabilitate them.

Gachagua added that another meeting will be held to review licensing in controlling the sale of ethanol, the major ingredient of second-generation alcohol.

In pursuit of revenue, the DP said the governors have contributed to the sale of alcohol through indiscriminate issuance of licenses. He urged them to shut down establishments, which are selling killer drinks.

While calling for a stakeholder approach in this fight, Gachagua asked other leaders including MPs and MCAs and the public to monitor illegal trade and support rehabilitation.

“We implore the governors to consider allocating the licensing fees to rehabilitation and advocacy. That is how we shall rebuild our community back better. We cannot develop the counties for a destroyed generation,” the DP said.

He said the partnership is one of the most effective ways of sustainably dealing with illegal alcohol and substance abuse.

“We seek to enhance collaboration between the police and National Government Administration Officers. This will be very effective in achieving results of restoring the dignity of the youth and our society,” he added.

With data showing that school children are also abusing drugs and alcohol, the Deputy President asked the police to intensify monitoring of learning institutions.

“We encourage the police officers to include sniffer dogs in random checks in schools. Once the sporadic checks become routine, the drugs will be eradicated from schools,” he said.

He asked Members of Parliament to also invest in improving the work environment of police stations to improve the life of the officers for better service delivery.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza lamented that women had suffered the most as their youthful kids and husbands had been turned to zombies by drugs and illicit brews.

 She called on the state to ensure a Forum to discuss on value addition of Miraa and its markets.

Meru Senator and senate deputy speaker blamed the Judiciary for doing little in ensuring drug peddlers are jailed.

“In the 11th parliament we initiated a thorough crackdown on illicit brew and drug and substance abuse but once one is arrested they would threaten you and true to their words, our courts would release them the next moment,” he said.

Kathuri also urged the Deputy President to caution NACADA against classifying Miraa as a drug because it is already in the government law books as a crop.

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