Local leaders in Kotido say that the residents have evacuated their homes and moved to sother sub counties to live with relatives, friends or in-laws for fear of being subjected to forceful disarmament that is currently on going in the sub region. Others have taken refuge in Kotido town, leaving only the elderly, the disabled and local council officials in the villages.
A consortium of NGOs including Mercy Corps, Catholic Relief Services and White Taker among others are mobilizing the youths and families that handed over illegal guns voluntarily with an aim of sensitizing and empowering them for income generating activities such that they do not go back to raiding.
The accusations follow the declining recovery of stolen livestock as well as the low recovery rate for illegal firearms following the expiry of three months of voluntary and forceful disarmament in the sub-region.
Karamoja is one of the areas in Uganda with the largest mineral potential. The region has high deposits of limestone, gypsum, iron ore, wolfram, nickel, gold, copper, cobalt, lithium, gemstones, tin, marble and other rare earth elements.
“It is unfortunate, this information reached to us late as security we did what we can at that moment. Good enough those women were released by the warriors alive, thanks to God,” said Longole in a statement on Saturday night. He called on the community to be vigilant by reporting such incidents or any crime immediately to security agencies.
During the acquisition of the site at Kosiroi where limestone exploration has been ongoing for the past 18 years, the landowners had fled the place due to insecurity and any negotiations for surface rights agreement remained inconclusive.
During the first disarmament process that ushered a window of peace for at least 10 years, there were some reports that the soldiers used inhumane methods including torture in order to make residents disclose where they kept the illegal guns, and some have reportedly suffered permanent disabilities and deformities while others reportedly died.
Peter Deyong, a resident of Moroto Municipality says that they have fears that some of the SPCs may engage in criminal activities using the uniforms. “We fear they may use these uniforms to engage in crime,” he told URN on Tuesday.
Zainab was arrested on Thursday evening with scores of NUP supporters in Moroto town as they held a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of NUP presidential candidate, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi.
Heavily armed police officers led by Moroto District Police Commander, Jude Nasucha barricaded the road a few meters from the Naitakwae, where Kyagulanyi has addressed his political rally to block him from accessing Moroto town where he had booked airtime on radio for a talk show.
Therefore the affected girls and women who were supposed to access justice this week have been forced to wait indefinitely because the 15 suspects on High Court special session course list are on the run.
Dr Byabashaija, who is in Moroto on an inspection duty following the escape of 219 prisoners on Wednesday says he will reward anyone who recovers a gun with 1.5 million Shillings and each person who surrenders a prisoner will be paid 500,000.
“The guy is very arrogant. When inmates come with complaints or any issues that need his attention, he slaps them and has been belittling Karimojong as ‘warriors’ whom he describes as backward and useless. Because he doesn’t understand the language, he is always suspicious of everything spoken especially when officers, who know some bit of Ngakarimojong talk with prisoners. On the day of the attack, his office was the first target but he was not around”, another source said.
A section of the community now lives in fear especially about the firearms that are in the wrong hands. Dinah Ayo, a resident in Moroto town says the loose firearms could be used by the escapees to perpetuate more crime, not only in Moroto but anywhere in the country.
Only a staff deployed as data clerk at the prisons regional office was in the office this morning while the rest of the team was locked up at Moroto Prison premises. Since Thursday, access to Moroto Prisons has been restricted, with tight security comprising four officers manning the main gate at day time. This is different from the other ordinary days where one person would be seen at the gate.
Carlos Odongo, a Boda- Boda cyclist in Moroto who witnessed the incident says the escape of prisoners was preceded by the rare appearance of armed warriors behind the prions gates, along Circular Road.