President Museveni has summoned security chiefs for an emergency meeting on Wednesday, this week, to devise strategies to urgently rein in rising insecurity in Karamoja Sub-region.
The meeting to be held at State House Entebbe comes on the heels of Gen Museveni’s three-day fact-finding visit to the sub-region scarred by increased killings during cattle-rustling and revenge attacks.
He returned to Kampala last evening after holding crisis meeting with regional security and political leaders in Karamoja and, based on the briefs, blamed the insecurity there on laxity by State actors, revenge and inter-clan clashes.
Gun violence, cattle raids and communal conflict resumed in Karamoja at low intensity from September 2019, but spiked mid this year, breaking 14 years of relative calm following the 2003 and 2008 disarmament of rustlers by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
At yesterday’s meeting with regional security and intelligence heads at Morulinga State Lodge, Napak District, Gen Museveni, who is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, said he was briefed that a warrior and convicted criminal named Acucu sparked the current insecurity when he returned from prison after ten years to find other men had snatched his wives and cattle.
Police and other State functionaries reportedly did not help him out of his predicament.
“He (Acucu) mobilised criminal gangs and attacked and raided cattle from the Dodoth, resulting in counter-raids by the Dodoth that has left more than 400 people dead in two years,” State House said in a statement.
It quoted President Museveni as having said the “Dodoth rejected peace talks with the Jie and have vowed to harm them. They just want revenge. This cycle must be broken peacefully.”
Present at yesterday’s meeting were regional commanders of police, army, prisons, intelligence outfits, Special Forces Command, Internal Security and the Anti-Stock Theft Unit.
Raids and ambushes have lately intensified in Karamoja across districts, but the number of civilians killed in shootings blamed on both warriors and security forces, remains unclear.
The Wednesday meeting of top security chiefs, according to State House, has been called to decide on the “final solution to dealing with the re-emerging cattle raids in Karamoja, which were sparked off by an angry warrior-cum-criminal Acucu…”
Top security chiefs
Among those to attend the Wednesday meeting are the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Wilson Mbadi, Commander of UPDF Land Forces and First Son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Joint Chief of Staff Maj Gen Leo Kyanda, Special Forces Commander Brig Peter Candia, and UPDF Air Force Commander Lt Gen Charles Lutaaya.
The others include the Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, Director General Internal Security Organisation Lt Col Charles Oluka, Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola, and the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija.
According to reports, Acucu, a known criminal roaming between the Jie and Turkana of Kenya, was not helped by police and the local leaders to recover his animals.
Mr Simon Peter Aleper, the vice chairperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement party for Karamoja, told President Museveni that the situation on the ground needs urgent interventions.
During yesterday’s meeting, State House said the President directed them not to beat or torture suspected rustlers, use credible intelligence to arrest and interrogate suspects and not take sides in the localised conflicts.
“In addition to military intervention, we must help them heal. Military alone will bring suppression, but not peace. Peace is in people’s hearts,” he said, according to State House.
The daring culture of the warriors was on display when they raided and stole an estimated 1,500 cattle, including 158 animals belonging to the Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Jane Frances Abodo, from her home in Nabilatuk District on Saturday morning, and herded away past Morulinga State Lodge where President Museveni camped from last Thursday.
Barely a week earlier, the rustlers targeted the farm of the chairperson of the Army General Court Martial, Lt Gen Andrew Guti, and stole 100 head of cattle, the second such raid on his kraal within a month.