As Karamoja region grapples with raising cattle rustling and its effects, intelligence reports from security agencies indicate that remnant illegal guns are instigating the security tensions.
This was revealed last week in security meetings that were chaired by Minister of State for Defence retired Col. Charles Okello Engola, Hon Fr Simon Lokodo, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity and Hon Moses Kizige, the state Minister of Karamoja Affairs.
The meetings were also attended by Resident District Commissioners, District Chairpersons, Members of Parliament, District police commanders, district internal security officers, Kraal leaders, elders of the districts of Kabong, Karenga, Moroto, Kotido, Abim, Otuke, Napak, Lamwo, Agago, and Kitgum plus 3 and 5 Division commanders.
Earlier, Members of Parliament in the Karamoja and Acholi regions had approached the President complaining of the rampant increase in the cattle theft and loss of innocent lives since this year began.
It was observed that a number of illegal guns still exist in the hands of the wrong elements among the Karamojong.
According to the Defence Ministry, “the years of disarmament, some guns were surrendered to government voluntarily and others decided to remain with their guns underground and it is these guns that they have started using.”
It’s also believed that because Karamoja borders South Sudan and Kenya, there are chances of illegal guns being sneaked into the country through porous borders. The guns are used by the warriors to carryout cattle rustling in Karamoja, Teso, and parts of Acholi.
Hon Engola appealed to the Karamojong to stop fragmentation on basis of clans, Matheniko fighting Bokola, Dodoth fighting Jie. He added that these clan clashes have contributed greatly to the insecurities hence hindering development.
“You are one person, same language and the same culture, why are you fighting each other?” he wondered.
Members of security committees agreed that in Karamoja, it is no longer cattle rustling but it is aggravated robbery which involves use of guns to rob and to kill innocent lives. They added that these warriors when taken to courts of law and charged of cattle rustling, they are given a light sentence and later return to the illegal activities.
They requested the warriors to be tried in the Court Martial.
The Minister for Karamoja Affairs Moses Kizige appealed to the Karamajongs to embrace government programs like Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education as its one of the ways development will come to the area. He also urged them to grow more food because Karamoja has been blessed with rain for the last two seasons.
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity Fr Simon Peter Lokodo apologized to the Acholi, asked them to forgive Karamojongs for taking their cattle adding it should not be generalized that all Karamajongs are bad people.
“Many people in Karamoja need peace and we have tasted peace for the last fifteen years and we know what it means,” Said Hon Lokodo.
In the meetings, it was agreed that a number of meetings be convened from local council 5 to local council one, kraal leaders to sit with their members and request them to hand over all the guns, security to be beefed at the border districts to avoid risks of sneaking in illegal guns which are used by cattle rustlers and also put people at risks of getting COVID 19 due to the movements of cattle rustlers from one country to another.
Central kraals are to be put in one place for easy manning by the UPDF and all animals will be marked for easy identification when stolen.