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‘Nation’ journalist: My ordeal in the hands of highway robbers

By KNA May 18th, 2015 3 min read

For the last two years, Sammy Lutta, a Daily Nation reporter based in Turkana County, has been highlighting the plight of victims of banditry and highway robbery in the county.

But little did he know that he would one day become the victim of a subject he has been passionately writing about.

Lutta narrated to KNA his harrowing experience in the hands of the highway robbers at Kambi Karaya on Thursday last week.

A day later, Lutta summed up his experience on his Facebook page thus:

To anyone traveling on Lodwar-Kitale road know that highway banditry is real. Between Ortum (West Pokot) and Lokichar (Turkana) you will meet them with firearms  they use to shoot at people who don’t stop at hotspots like Lami Nyeusi, Kambi Karaya, Turkwel Gorge, Marich Pass, KWS and Kakong. I am a victim though they didn’t harm me but took away what they considered was theirs.”

Ironically, the incident occurred as he was returning to his duty station in Lodwar after attending counseling session for reporters in crime prone areas.

The session was meant to help journalists overcome psychological trauma that comes with viewing mutilated and dead bodies in their course of duty.

“We had just passed a road block at Orwa in West Pokot when two armed men emerged from the bush and fired gun shots in the air and ordered our driver to stop,” Lutta recalls.


According to Lutta, their driver did not have an option but to stop because the road is in such a deplorable state that the bandits would have caught up with them if the driver had defied their orders.

He says the thickets along the road also made it difficult for the driver to see the bandits who had been waiting for them in the bush. In addition, the several heads of cattle that were on the road had forced the driver to slow down to avoid knocking them.

“The last thing you want to do is to knock down any cattle in areas where bandits are fully armed,” says Lutta, a graduate of Masinde Muliro University.

First, the robbers ordered the four passengers and the driver to surrender their money.

“They did not seem satisfied and they ordered us to alight from the vehicle before ordering us to lie on the ground as they took away our mobile phones,” he says.

The passenger seated next to that driver was not lucky because they also made away with his bag which contained his important documents including academic certificates.

“While all this was happening, it occurred to me that our tormentors were not in a hurry. They seemed so confident,” says Lutta.

Lutta believes the ambush was well coordinated because it did not take long after one herder communicated through his mobile phone then other herders started driving their cattle towards the road.


It was the second time that Lutta was coming face-to-face with the ugly side of banditry.

Early in May, Lutta and six other journalists were forced to seek refuge inside a police lorry as they were traveling to Lorogon in Turkana South to cover a story on the village under siege.

“I have never been so afraid in my life. We were informed by the police that bandits were monitoring our movements and they could attack us anytime,” he recalls.

All the journalists lay on the floor of the police lorry waiting for the worst to happen. The fact that it was only last November when armed Pokot bandits killed over 22 people whom they suspected to be Turkana police reservists made the journalists even more afraid.

“We started taking photographs of ourselves in the police lorry in the hope that should the worst happen people would know that we had died in the line of duty,” says Lutta.

The journalist counts himself lucky to have survived the horrendous experience and hopes that more can be done to contain the frequent cases of highway robbery between West Pokot and Turkana Counties.

North Rift Anti Stock Theft Commander, John Ogolla says there is need to clear the thickets along the road. Ogolla says bandits hide in the thickets which make it difficult to patrol the area.

“When the bandits hear police vehicles approaching they hide in the thickets only to return and attack motorists after the police have gone,” says Ogolla.