, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Six firearm dealers who were found to have flouted security guidelines have been de-registered, a day before the government acquired a multi-million shillings sophisticated software to register and monitor operations of arms traders.
Capital News has reliably established that letters de-registering the arms traders were sent to the dealers on Tuesday from the Chief Firearms Licensing Office based at the Nairobi Area Police Headquarters, effectively paralysing their operations.
The letters were signed by Chief Licensing Officer Mr Lawrence Mwandi, according to a source who saw one of the letters.
“We do not know if they had received prior warnings, but it is unlikely that such action would be made without a warning,” our source said.
The action effectively means the de-registered firms can not import firearms for sale locally to licensed firearms holders or supply ammunitions to such persons or organisations.
Kenya has had 14 registered and licensed arms dealers and Tuesday’s action leaves the country with only eight in operation.
Licensed Firearms dealers are usually required to comply with strict regulations set out by the Kenya Police through the Firearms Licensing Office in Nairobi.
This includes putting in place proper security mechanisms at their firms to ensure firearms and ammunitions in their custody are safe.
They are also required to thoroughly vet their employees, and ensure they are all certified by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) as not having any criminal record.
“It is a lucrative business only if one complies with all the regulations because we deal with firearms. This is not a business like that of selling food or clothes. We handle all kinds of the sophisticated firearms which can only be handled by licensed personnel,” a key player in the security industry said on condition that he remains anonymous because of the nature of the information he shared with us.
“We only sell firearms and ammunitions to individuals or companies which present licenses issued by the police,” our source said. “It is not a market for anyone.”
But despite the strict regulations stipulated by the government on arms dealings and trade, there exists several other illegal arms dealers who supply arms and ammunitions to unscrupulous people and criminals.
Such traders have left the country flooded with hundreds of thousands of illegal arms which pose a serious security challenge to law enforcement agencies.
This includes the thousands of arms held illegally by communities in cattle-rearing areas of the North Rift, parts of Eastern and North Eastern Provinces and others held by criminals in urban areas.
For over 10 years now, the government has been carrying out voluntary and forceful disarmament exercises in the country and continues to collect thousands of illegally-held firearms, but it is still convinced there are thousands more in the wrong hands.
Dr Francis Sang’ of the Regional Centre for Small Arms based in Nairobi blames the increased rate of arms proliferation to the “lack of regulations on arms dealers.”
“This is in light of the fact that arms dealers rely on a general lack of governmental control and screening of their activities to fuel the availability of illegal arms,” Dr Sang said on Wednesday at a meeting where Kenya received a sophisticated software to monitor operations of arms dealers in the country.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti who represented the government at the meeting said the installation of the multi-million shillings software will help the country develop a database for all licensed arms dealers.
“Upon implementation and full utilisation of this software, we will have an electronic standardized register of brokers which will help in controlling more effectively and facilitate exchange of information among member states in the region,” Prof Saitoti said.
United Nation’s Director for Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa Jacqueline Seck Diouf said the software and its installation was funded by the governments of Austria and the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands through the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.
“The brokering project aims to reinforce the capacity of Eastern African States to regulate brokers and brokering activities within their territories,” Ms Diouf said.