GARISSA—President Uhuru Kenyatta has on Friday commissioned the Modika Barracks, Kenya’s newest army barracks and home to the Kenya Army’s 6 Brigade. Locals in Garissa nicknamed the camp “the death trap” due its dark history.
The barracks, which will be home to three army fighting units and three support sub-units, is part of a program to modernise and improve the capability of the Kenya Defence Forces.
The camp move comes a year after a Nyeri court directed the Ministry of Defense to move out of the land owned by businessman Mahat Kuno and four others.
Justice Daniel Musinga upheld the decision of Environment and Lands Court to award the businessmen Sh1.5 million as damages, and to stop Ministry of Defence from interfering with the parcel of land occupied by Garissa Military Camp.
Justice Musinga rejected Attorney General’s application for extension of time to appeal the ruling dated August 16, 2016 for failing to adhere to regulations of the Court of Appeal.
President Kenyatta called on KDF officers to uphold their military ideals as they protect the dignity of Kenyans and the territorial integrity of Kenya.
The president’s comment comes four months after a 27-year old man was shot dead by KDF officers on guard on August 1st, according to his sister Qamar Kassim.
Abdullahi Kassim Yussuf, 27, was the latest victim of extra-judicial killings allegedly the by the security forces against civilians.
Post-mortem results indicated that Abdullahi died of haemorrhage from three gunshots—two on his chest and one on the back.
According to the OB at Garissa police station, a man aged 28 years went to the barracks but when he was told to identify himself, he tried to snatch a rifle from an officer.
“The victim was overpowered and tried to run away. There was one warning shot, but he did not stop prompting the officers to shoot, killing instantly,” the OB read.
The news of the death of Abdullahi caused violent protest in Garissa on the weekend, putting town’s operations at a standstill. Police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse angry locals who sought answers.
On November 9 , 2012 suspected Shabab militants shot dead three KDF officers as they were changing flat tyre. Hours later, Garissa’s main market was burnt down after days of military operation to flush out criminals.
Two people were reported dead and several others injured including religious leaders and women.
Then KDF spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna termed the accusation as malicious and lies crafted to taint the credibility of the force.
“Allegations suggesting KDF committed atrocities in Garissa are false and must cease,”said Col Oguna.
Speaking to Kulan Post, the executive director of HAKI Africa Hussein Khalid said the killing will undo the work of anti-radicalisation efforts in the region adding that such incidents have long plagued the region.
“KDF appears to be operating with impunity. Reports indicate that in the North East, they have become a law unto themselves – killing, torturing and maiming innocent Kenyans at will,” Khalid said.
He added that: “Incident such as this one widens the gap between citizens and security officers which is not good in fighting extremism. The excessive force used by KDF on Kenyans is counter productive as it only acts to win the terror groups unnecessary sympathy.”
Amnesty International has called for investigation as human right groups, family and friends of Abdullahi plan for demonstrations in Garissa town on Eid day. Other Nairobi based right groups said they plan to transport activist to Garissa to join the processions.
President Uhuru said the establishment of the new barracks is part of efforts to modernise the KDF as it changes to adapt to emerging threats.
Lt Gen Koipaton said new permanent military bases like Modika will also be established in other regions of the country to improve the capacity of KDF.