Karamojong cattle rustlers have doubled raids ignoring calls by their legislators and district chairpersons to stop. The rustlers are carrying out daily cattle raided despite last month’s pleas by legislators and LC V chairperson from the region traversing all the districts there to preach peace and call for an end to the vice.
Eighteen cattle raids have taken place since last month when the legislators and LC V chairperson traversed the region. Kaabong is the most affected district. On June 4 2021, two cattle raids took place in Nabulatuk district claiming the life of Apanaluk, a man who had 54 wives, his son and a soldier killed by mob justice shortly after the MP’s joint meeting.
On May 5, 2021, the MPs held a joint meeting in Lorengechora town council in Napak district. On the same day, three major raids took place in Lomuriangalepan grazing area where more than 400 head of cattle were raided but were recovered by the Army. On May 11th, 2021, warriors raided animals from Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district but they were intercepted by the army.
On May 24, 2021, MPs returned to the region after a break and held their first meeting in Kaabong. However, shortly after the meeting, rustlers attacked a kraal in the town council and made away with livestock. On May 25, 2021, the rustlers launched another attack on a kraal 200meters away from the detach of 39 battalion in Kaabong where they shot three herdsmen and made off with cattle.
The legislators were meeting this same day in Karenga district on their peace mission. The same night warriors attacked Rengen Sub County in Kotido district and raided animals. On May 26, 2021, MPs were in Kotido district for the same meeting while cattle rustlers were busy fighting UPDF soldiers in Kakamar Sub County in Kaabong district.
On June 27, 2021, the warriors raided animals in Kamion Sub County in Kaabong district, as the MPs were busy dialoguing in Abim district. On May 28, 2021, another raid took place in raided Lochom village in Sidok Sub County in Kaabong district as the legislators were dialoguing in Moroto town.
John Ngorok, an elder and resident of Lorengewat Sub County in Nabilatuk district told URN that the meetings of their leaders seem to be fueling the raids. “It’s a big challenge and if the government doesn’t take this as something serious, the conflict in Karamoja will soon spill into Teso, Sebei and Lango regions,” he said.
He said the Bokora of Napak would not sit back as they continue loosing animals, saying that they will soon cross and raid animals in Teso, Sebei and Acholi regions, which will escalate the situation. Remigio Achia, the Pian Member of parliament who also doubles as the chairperson of the Karamoja Parliamentary Group wondered why the military relaxed even after they were informed about the planned raids.
“What’s the use of intelligence? The community is volunteering information to the army on time but the army does not act very fast, could it be that the army has no fuel or what? Someone should answer this,” he said. Samson Lokeris, the former Dodoth East MP, said the current situation needs the president’s intervention since he was the one who initiated disarmament.
He said the animals are getting finished yet it’s the only source of livelihood for the people in Karamoja like now where all crops have dried up due to the scorching sunshine.
Lokeris wondered if the army leadership recalled the helicopters allocated specifically to support ground troops in Karamoja. Joseph Komol Midi, the Dodoth North MP in Kaabong district, says the army needs to style up and play their role properly. According to Komol, the personnel deployed to protect the animals have failed to manage the current situation.
“What we have now are the rebels, not warriors because they are raiding Kaabong daily and cows are going in thousands,” he said. He said on Monday night Kaabong lost 1,228 that were taken towards Loro Sub County. Major Peter Mugisa, the UPDF 3rd Division Spokesperson accused the political leaders in the region for playing double cards.
“It’s not good to put all the blame on the army, the people who are raiding are not soldiers but it’s their relatives and voters. How many have revealed their identity as wrong criminals, “he asked.
According to Major Mugisa, the UPDF has responded to many incidents apart from one incident in Kaabong, where there was some delay because the response squad was somewhere else. He said UPDF is following up on all raided animals and called upon the public to calm down, saying the situation is under control.