A family in the contested Apaa Township is seeking the intervention of rights activists to secure the freedom of Patrick Olanya, 34, a father of six who was wrongfully arrested by police on murder charges.
Olanya's arrest follows fights between the Acholi and Madi communities over the ownership and control of Zoka C village, resulting in the death of one person, Edward Idro, 34, on September 19. Tensions emerged the next day, when the Madi community attempted to force their way into the Acholi settlement to bury the deceased, claiming that the area was the deceased's ancestral home.
As police backed by the military from Juka barracks, with the involvement of local leaders from Adjumani and Amuru District intervened to quell the situation which dragged on for days. On Wednesday, Ajande Aliga, an officer in-charge of criminal investigations at Juka Police Post ordered his juniors to arrest Olanya, as a key suspect in the murder case.
Olanya’s wife, Margaret Acii told URN in an interview that her husband was arrested on his way home, several kilometers from Zoka C were the encounter between the Acholi and Madi people took place.
Olanya's brother Julius Kitara told URN that the family visited Adjumani and found him detained on charges of murder. He said Olanya has since never appeared before any court which is a total violation of his constitutional rights.
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The village chairperson Maorian Abola explains that he rushed to rescue Olanya when he was arrested and briefly detained at Juka police post but the officers said he would only be released after questioning. Moments later, he was dragged into a vehicle to Adjumani Police Station.
Evans Musiige, the OC station of Adjumani Police Station confirmed to URN that Olanya was in their custody but declined to divulge further details saying the suspect was still being interrogated.
However, local leaders say Olanya’s arrest was motivated by tribal sentiments since police failed to investigate and identify the real murder suspects. They say that every time the Madi people attack their settlements, security personnel would arrest and release them without reprimand.
The Conflict over Apaa land dates back to 2012. The Acholi community says that the area measuring 827 square kilometers is their ancestral home but it is also claimed by the Madi. The disputed Apaa land was also gazzeted by the Government thorugh Uganda Wildlife Authority – UWA as part of East Madi Game Reserve under Zoka Central Forest.
Since 2012 to date, 24 people have been killed due to sporadic deadly tribal clashes.