Clerics Call For Unity Among Acholi, Karamoja Leaders to Fight Cattle Theft

Archbishop Odama says leaders from the two sides should now start engaging themselves in dialogues to promote harmony and peace whose ultimate goal is to fight the insecurity.
Brig William Bainomugisha, fifth Infantry Division Commander [left] Chats with Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop John Baptist Odama on Friday.

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Religious leaders under their umbrella body the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative - ARLPI have called on leaders from Karamoja and Acholi to unite inorder to fight renewed cattle theft.

The clerics made the call on Friday in Agago district during a security meeting convened by ARLPI. The meeting involved security personnel and local leaders from Kitgum and Agago in East Acholi, Karenga, Kabong, Kotido and Abim in Karamoja region.

The development comes amidst resurgence of cattle theft in the sub counties of Lapono, Paimol, Adilang and Omiya Pachwa in Agago district, Namokora and Orom sub counties in Kitgum by armed Jie warriors from Kotido District.

Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese Dr. John Baptist Odama, also the Vice Chairperson of ARLPI told the leaders during the meeting that through unity, the two sides will realize a quick end to the ongoing cattle thefts.

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Archbishop Odama says leaders from the two sides should now start engaging in dialogue to promote harmony and peace whose ultimate goal is to fight insecurity.

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He however notes that there is need to have a mindset change among the community of Karamoja especially among the Jie tribe in Kotido though extensive sensitization and education for alternative livelihood source.

His remarks follow series of blames heaped on leaders in Kotido district on their lack of seriousness in coordinating with neighboring districts in Karamoja and Acholi to fight cattle theft by Jie warriors.

For instance, Rex Aachilla, Kabong Resident District Commissioner says some leaders in Kotido district have been fueling theft of cattle openly and remained reluctant to turn in criminals to their neighbors for reprimand. He says a lot needs to be undertaken to bring on board such leaders to work together for common interest of curbing cattle theft within karamoja and neighboring acholi.

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Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, William Komakech, called for strengthening of coordination among leaders in Kotido District in the wake of influx of Jie warriors in the district which has led to loss of cattle and lives.

At least 102 cattle and 11 goats were stolen from farmers in Orom sub county during the COVID-19 lockdown period, while two people were also shot dead in June this year by armed Jie warriors.

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Komakech says killing of locals by the warriors and consequential shooting dead of some of the warriors during fire exchanges with security personnel is straining relationships in the two regions.

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Brig. William Bainomugisha, of the fifth Infantry Division Commander says the army has now commenced the second phase of ensuring stability in Karamoja through regular engagements with local leaders having successfully disarmed them in the past years.

The religious leaders and security personnel during the meeting made some key resolutions among them conducting regular meeting, formation of peace committees in Acholi and karamoja, opening of access roads on porous borders used by warriors and involving cultural leaders to end cattle theft.