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Court temporarily suspends mandatory vetting of civilian firearm holders

The directive for the surrender of firearms for fresh vetting was issued by Interior CS Matiangi on December 5. Photo/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 17 – The High Court has temporarily suspended the mandatory vetting of civilian firearm holders, that was ordered by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi earlier this month.

The orders were issued on Monday evening by the High Court sitting in Nairobi, in a case filed by the National Gun Owners Association and some of the respective members as interested parties.

In the suit, the association complained that the action by Matiangi and the Ministry was not fair, citing the Fair Administrative Actions Act, 2015 and all other enabling provisions of law.

The court effectively quashed the decision of the CS of December 5, “directing all civilian firearm holders to appear before the Firearms Licencing Board for mandatory vetting.”

“That leave be and is hereby granted to the Exparte Applicant to commence Judicial Review proceedings to seek for orders of certiorari directed to the first respondent to remove into this Honourable Court and be quashed its decision of December 5, declaring the Sterling-Patchett MK5, CZ Scorpion Evo 3 and MP5 as prohibited firearms,” part of the courts orders that will be in force until January 16, read in part.

On Monday, it was a beehive of activities at the Firearms Licensing Board offices in Nairobi on Monday, at the start of the 90-day moratorium for civilian gun owners.

Dozens of civilian gun owners trooped to the offices to verify the status of the firearms as the government embarks on fresh registration, but none was willing to give an interview, and it remained unclear if they surrendered their firearms as directed earlier by the CS.

High profile leaders were among those who turned up on day 1 of the 90-day moratorium. Photo/LEAH MUENI.

Several high profile leaders, including two MPs were among those who turned up for the verification exercise that was gazetted earlier this month by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.

This Reporter said he saw several businessmen of Asian origin going in and out of the Firearms Board offices, but none was willing to speak about their mission there.

The tightly-guarded Firearms Licensing Board, located on Mandera Road in Kileleshwa, is headed by Charles Mukindia, following the disbandment of the previous board that was accused of supervising the issuance of firearms through corruption.

When Mukindia was informed about the presence of Reporters who were seeking his comment, he pledged to speak to journalists at a later date.

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The board members are David Kahinga, Jackson Kimutai Rotich, Vincent Wahoro, Nancy Kabete, Justin Odhiambo Khaduli and Lazarus Mbondo.

Already, a section of the civilian gun owners under the auspices of the Association of Guns Owners have moved to court to challenge Matiangi’s directive.

Administration Police officers manning the board restricted journalists from taking photographs. Photo/LEAH MUENI.
According to Matiangi, the move is aimed at mopping up a long history of irregularities in the certification of firearms ownership and use by private citizens.

He said some lapses in the “licensing of firearms dealers, civilian holders, and shooting range owners have led to the illegal possession, transfer, misuse, and trafficking of such weapons thereby posing major threats to national and regional security.”

“It goes without saying that this dangerous trend has fueled various acts of terrorism and crime such as robbery with violence, carjacking, poaching, and cattle rustling among others,” he said.

Civilians in possession of any prohibited firearm were directed to surrender to the Government which ranges from automatic or semi-automatic self-loading military assault rifles such as a G3, AK-47, M16 rifle, Uzi, CZ scorpion, Sterling-Patchett, Evo 3 and MP5 among others.

“If in doubt about a specific weapon, the holder should seek advice from the nearest police station before the expiry of the respite period,” the Ministry advised on December 5.

“All preferential certifications and special considerations that might have been accorded earlier for specific civilian firearms holders under whichever circumstances are hereby abrogated with an immediate effect.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet will also oversee a fresh vetting of all police reservists with a view of creating a new database to ensure it is not infiltrated by criminals.

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