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Apaa Land Conflict: UPDF Senior Commander pinned over torture of women in Adjumani

The victims all stated that as they were enduring the inhuman treatment in the torturer camp, the Madi paramount chief Drani Stephen sat under a tree in the company of self-styled Maj Travers Kibuuka, the UPDF coordinator of intelligence in the area Abiriga Kapricos Alima and Owor Francis LC1 chairman Apaa.

APAA, UGANDA: The UPDF 71st battalion commander Maj Travers Kibuuka has been accused of ordering the torture of two women and their spouses as land wrangles in Apaa spill into the neighbouring public land in Adjumani district.

The two women who have been admitted to Adjumani Hospital remain groaning in agony as both have been scanned with broken limbs, and one of them diagnosed with injuries in her private parts.

Anzoa Juliet, 19 while narrating her torture ordeal to DailyExpress reporter at Adjumani hospital recounts that at the dawn of April 11, 2023, UPDF soldiers commanded by Maj Travers Kibuuka stormed her house and dragged her out of the house as they clobbered her with clubs, others kicked and crammed her with jungle boats.

“Maj Travers Kibuuka ordered me to confess that we were hired by the Adjumani district chairman Anyama Ben and Ali clan chief Chandiga Ben to burn the houses of the neighbouring Acholi community but when I denied any knowledge of the allegation he ordered the merciless soldiers to beat me,” piga yeye mufuruliszo” Kiswahili instruction for beat her indiscriminately”.

He at that moment ordered the soldiers to undress me and I lay naked my legs were forcefully spread wide apart and he {Major Travers} maliciously inserted a stick in my private part, I gave out a deafening cry upon the pain inflicted by the stick, the soldiers mocked me, as others caressed my buttocks and fondled my breasts equating it to cold chapati.

“Once I could cry no more owing to the never-ending torture my 11-month-old baby crawled and lay by my side and was crying aggressively this enraged Maj Travers Kibuuka, he removed a cigarette from his mouth and inserted on the lower lip of the toddler until the red fire died”. Juliet Anzoa recollects.

The victim Anzoa Juliet, her husband and their 13-month-old baby girl have suffered the wrath of Maj Travers Kibuuka in the torture camp.

Another woman Lokua Beatrice said the UPDF soldiers led by Maj Kibuuka stormed her home at 4:00 pm on April 11, 2023, they rounded them up and started beating them without asking questions.

They later led them to a wilderness which later turned out to be a torture camp, the Major who looked tense ordered her to name those sponsoring the burning of houses in the area, even so, she said she has no information besides she was not aware of the occurrence.

Lokua Beatrice who was crying in pain after sustaining a broken leg said Major Kibuuka accused her of demonstrating arrogance and instructed the soldiers to instill discipline in her, shortly she was surrounded by dozens of soldiers who unleashed inhuman treatment on her combining cruel slaps and thumping and within few minutes she blacked out and regained consciousness’ in Zoka C barracks at around 10.00 am.

Mansur Bakole and Ijotre Sadik are some of the victims whose backs were burnt with red hot fire from cigarettes and multiple kicks and striking with clubs and gun butts.

Beatrice Lokua, another victim groaning in anguish in Adjumani hospital with a broken leg after suffering torture at the hands of Maj Kibuuka in UPDF camp on April 11, 2023.

The victims, about 13 in total were later driven in the official land cruiser pick-up of Major Trevor Kibuuku and incarcerated in the UPDF detention facility in Zoka C garrison until late in the evening when she was driven in a UPDF pick-up and dumbed by the roadside in Adjumani town.

Major Kibuuka however refused to release Lokua Beatrice for unclear reasons even when the regional police commander North West Nile region personnel drove to Zoka C barracks demanding her release.

Lokua Beatrice was later released on orders from the brigadier commander Lt. Colonel Kochi Bonny, she was driven and abandoned by the roadside, in Adjumani town.

The victims all stated that as they were enduring the inhuman treatment in the torturer camp, the Madi paramount chief Drani Stephen sat under a tree in the company of self-styled UPDF coordinator of intelligence in the area Abiriga Kapricos Alima and Owor Francis LC1 chairman Apaa.

Chief Drani Stephen according to the victims didn’t issue loud or noticeable instructions for meeting torturers, but could also not stop the implicated officer from occasioning torture them. Efforts seeking for the Chief’s comments were not fruitful as he declined to respond to our repeated calls.

What the law says

Articles 24 and 44 (a)of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda, provides for respect of human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment by prohibiting and preventing any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The UPDF is established by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995(as amended). In accordance with Articles 208 and 209, among others: Foster harmony and understating between the defence forces and the civilians and engage in productive activities for the development of Uganda apart from the core mandate of preserving and defending the sovereignty and interior integrity of Uganda.

UPDF Speaks out

The UPDF 4th Division public information officer Major Telesphur Byamumanya When contacted on phone yesterday (Sunday, April 16, 2023), said the army went to stop the escalation of attack and counterattack between a section of Madi and Acholi communities after the latter was accused of burning grass thatched houses belonging to the Acholi community early April.

Major Telesphur said the 4th Division command has constituted an investigative team led by the Division Intelligence officer who is on the ground for a fact-finding mission and decision thereafter will be informed by the outcome of the investigations.

What Police Says

The North West Nile Region police publicist Ignatius Dragudu said the matter has been reported to Adjumani central police station and police detectives have already swung into action once the file is ready it will be forwarded to the DPP for advice.

Pressed on the identity of the suspects, Dragudu said the victims have frequently mentioned Maj Travers Kibuuka as the officer who commanded the operations while maintaining that the police investigations will put all other fears and reservations to rest.

The brigade commander 503 Brigade Lt. Colonel Kochi Bonny visited the victims who are still ailing in the Adjumani hospital and talked to them about what essentially transpired and promised that they would get justice.

Adjumani RDC intervenes

The Adjumani RDC Taban Data Peter has said his office has received complaints from the relatives of the victims and he has directed the Adjumani DPC Byamukama Benon to ensure the investigations into the matter are expedited with the view of prosecuting those found responsible for the torture of the innocent women.

Mr Taban said it is ill-fated that, Maj Kibuuka has decided to tow a line of misconduct alongside the Madi paramount chief who have variously been accused of illegal land deals in the vast Ngoro settlement area which has been vacant since relative peace returned to the area owing to the over 20 years of LRA insurgency in the area.

The Chairman Ngoro Settlement Area Mr Angu James said since February 2023, they have been under constant attacks from soldiers in Ngoro West UPDF detach commanded by Corporal Ojuku George where scores of his members were arrested and taken to Amuru district police station and later transferred to Adjumani police station.

Mr Angu said he is certain the reason behind the dubious UPDF operations in the area is to drive them away from the land because Mr Abiriga Kapricos Alima has severally threatened them with verbal eviction orders claiming that the land they are occupying has been acquired by an Indian investor.

During his visit to Adjumani district on April 13, 2023, where he commissioned the shs 5bn zonal industrial hub, Adjumani woman MP Ababiku Jesca appealed to President Museveni on the urgent need to end the Apaa land conflict which has caused untold suffering to the Madi people and their Acholi neighbours’.

The president in usual rhetoric advised the woman legislator to relax and stop stressing herself over the Apaa issue because it is not in contention that Apaa is in the Adjumani district but what is left is to deal with is the issue of land use since the law does not bar the Acholi from occupying land in Adjumani district.

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