Hundreds of youths who had joined Al-Shabaab have secretly returned to Lamu, County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri says.
The commissioner said lack of cooperation between security agencies and locals has however hindered efforts to enlist the Al-Shabaab returnees.
Speaking to the Nation in Lamu on Monday, Mr Kanyiri said family members were unwilling to surrender the returnees to the relevant authorities despite the government amnesty and rehabilitation efforts.
According to Mr Kanyiri, since the introduction of amnesty by the national government in April 2015, no single Al-Shabaab returnee in Lamu has surrendered to his office for rehabilitation.
He appealed to returnees to surrender and register themselves in the various security offices in the region.
He said an undisclosed number of the returnees have come back to Lamu after they were unable to cope with the militia life and that no one had taken an initiative to notify the county administration of their intentions.
If the returnees do not surrender to the authorities, they will be hunted down and charged, he said.
Mr Kanyiri said the amnesty announced by the national government two years ago was still open.
Intelligence reports indicate that hundreds young people from Lamu have gone to Somalia and joined the Al-Shabaab militia group.
HIDING AT HOME
Mr Kanyiri however revealed that others had already been killed in the neighbouring country and that his office is keeping a close eye on those secretly returning to the county and hiding among family members.
“Many youth here in Lamu have crossed over to Somalia and joined Al-Shabaab. I am aware that hundreds of the Al-Shabaab returnees have decided to come back home after they were effectively subdued by AMISOM forces in Somalia. The government is willing and ready to receive and rehabilitate those young men and women only if they will voluntarily surrender and turn themselves to the authorities. Those who will not do so will be treated suspiciously,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He said they were however cautious and are investigating if some of the returnees are spies for the terror group.
“Some of them retreated because they realized they couldn’t face the AMISOM troops there. Some because they discovered the promises made by the militia group were just but a hoax and many more reasons. They must surrender so that we see how best to rehabilitate them unless of course they have other plans,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He called on locals and parents of the returnees to desist from hiding them and instead cooperate with security agencies to ensure they (returnees) are helped to resume their normal lives instead of waiting to be flushed out.
“They should stop hiding. We know them and their locations. For how long will they keep on hiding? The arm of the law is long. They should know that if we come for them we will not treat them like returnees but terrorists,” said Mr Kanyiri.
The county security boss also asked chiefs in the county to work towards making the Nyumba Kumi initiative a success to fight crime.
He cautioned locals against harbouring foreigners whose intentions are unknown in the county.
Many foreigners particularly from Pemba and Tanga are harboured by the Lamu locals who go to an extent of finding jobs for them in the county, something that Mr Kanyiri said pause a threat to national security.