Locals threaten to evict army detach in Moroto over killing of 80-year-old blind man

The army claimed Lomeri had stabbed a UPDF soldier identified as Zubail Nangai with a spear during an operation to arrest a suspected armed rustler.

MOROTO, UGANDA: Locals in Loputuk village, Moroto district have threatened to evict an army detach over the killing of an 80-year-old blind man Aturangole Lomeri. Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officers have been accused of shooting dead Lomeri during cordon and search operations on Monday last week.

The army claimed Lomeri had stabbed a UPDF soldier identified as Zubail Nangai with a spear during an operation to arrest a suspected armed rustler. The UPDF 3rd division spokesperson issued a report that the shooting was in self-defense after the deceased attacked the officers.

But, the community and their leaders have disputed the report, demanding answers and that the errant officers be brought to book, if not their detach will be removed from the land that was offered to the forces by the deceased.

Ceaser Akol, the Moroto district speaker said they demand the errant officers who participated in the killing of Aturangole be heavily punished for causing such a huge loss to the family and Karamoja as a region.

Akol said the deceased has been so resourceful in culture, security and the local knowledge on how things should be done in Karamoja, and it has been their pleasure to protect such elders in the community.

He said due to the reckless statement made by the UPDF 3rd division spokesperson, tagging the deceased as a raider, the community is proposing to have the Loputuk army detach removed from the land that was offered to the forces by the late. Akol said the community is extremely bitter and the only option is to see the unruly officers being brought to book and justice prevail for the family of the deceased.

“The detach sits in the land belonging to the deceased and if the community decides to claim back their land it is their right, so let the responsible authorities take action against the wrong element in the forces or else they will face eviction because it’s useless to contain murderers in the community,” Akol said.

Angello Pulkol, the son of the deceased and district councilor representing Loputuk sub county said it is shocking for someone who has been a peace lover and even offered his own land to the forces for the establishment of an army unit to be killed for no clear reasons. Pulkol wondered why the army killed such an old man who couldn’t even walk and branded him as a cattle rustler who resisted arrest.

“Shame on UPDF, an 80-year-old man who has even lost his sight, you killed and accused him of injuring a trained UPDF officer?” Pulkol asked.

Pulkol noted that the army has been carrying out cold blooded killing of innocent people and nothing is done to the perpetrators.

“We have had these series of cold blood killings. We had in 2011, Hon Okoth who was contesting for LC III was killed. In 2015, Hon Oduku Peter Eritoi was killed not by an illegal gun but with a government gun. And now my father has been killed by men in uniform…I’m not happy with the PRO of CID division who started putting this on social media when he’d not even reached the scene,” said Pulkol.

Meanwhile, Stella Atyang, the Moroto district Woman MP said the security officers have been messing up with the operations in the region by violating people’s rights and many of the errant officers go unpunished for their dubious actions.

Atyang condemned the rampant acts of impunity by the army officers, urging the UPDF top command to take punitive measures to hold the offenders accountable. Atyang also noted that it is very awkward for the security personnel to arrest everyone in the family for a crime committed by an individual and yet the law stipulates clearly that everyone is responsible for his or her own crime.

“Cases of human rights violations have been cited out. One is this current one of Mzee Lomer Aturongole who was gunned down by the UPDF. And another case is in the month of May of an elderly woman who was shot by the UPDF still in the face. Also in other cases where parents are also detained because their children have guns yet in law everybody is responsible for his crime as an individual and not as a family. I call upon the institution of UPDF to hold whoever was responsible for his death accountable,” said Atyang.

Brig Gen David Mugisha the second in command of the 3rd infantry division apologized for the incident and the miscommunication from their public relations officer and also condemned the act of the errant officers who participated in the murder.

Mugisha disclosed that the five soldiers who were involved in this act has been arrested to face the court-martial on murder charges. Lomeri lived with 24 wives and 28 children and his body was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Loputuk village in Loputuk sub county on Saturday’s evening.

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