NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has dissolved the Firearms Licensing Board in part of efforts geared at reforming the agency that has been faulted for failing to crack the whip on fake permit holders.
Matiangi told a section of civil society on Friday that plans were underway to reconstitute the board.
“I have disbanded the Firearms Licensing and Control Board with the aim of reconstituting a new one. We are in the process of re-vetting all firearms in the view of security and safety,” he said.
He also announced plans to establish a digital registry of licensed firearm holders who shall be required to apply for new certificates.
The Cabinet Secretary restructured top leadership at the Firearms Licensing Board in February this year replacing Major General (Rtd) Enoch Sasia with Major General (Rtd) Charles Mwanzia.
Sasia had taken charge as the Chairperson of the board in 2016 for a three-year term.
It was not immediately clear why he was recalled before the end of his tenure.
The membership of the firearms board includes two representatives from the National Police Service, one from the State Law Office, the Kenya Wildlife Service, National Intelligence Service, and the National Focal Point.
The Firearms Act (2015) also provides for a secretariat that aides the boards in discharge of its mandate.
The Act tasks the board with certifying suitability of applications and reassessing proficiency of firearm holders.
The board is also mandated with the issuance, cancelation, termination and variation of firearm licenses.
The board keeps a centralized record management system of firearm, holders, dealers, and manufacturers.
The regulating Act outlaws the possession of firearms and ammunition without the requisite certificate from the board.
Equally outlawed is the purchasing or assembling of armored vehicles without a certificate from the licensing board.
Persons found to have convened regulations under the Firearms Act (2015) are liable prison terms “not less than seven years and not more than fifteen years.”
Government agencies have in the recent past arrested individuals over violation of the Firearms Act.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado was recently arrested by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) when raids at his rural and city houses resulted into the discovery of eight weapons.
Obado was released on bail on November 16 following his arrest on November 14 as police sought more time to ascertain the ownership of the guns.
Investigators had told a Nairobi court that a ballistic examination was due to be undertaken on the weapons.
Businessman Jimi Wanjigi has also been arraigned in court over gun ownership after police discovered what they described as semi-automatic self-loading military assault rifles in his house in the buildup to the 2017 presidential election.
Other firearms recovered from his Nairobi home included a Ceska, a Glock 19, a CQ rifle, and a shot gun.
Wanjigi, a close ally of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, accused the government of witch-hunt when he faced eleven counts of possessing firearms and ammunitions without lawful jurisdiction.
The State withdrew the case against Wanjigi in July.