Security chiefs in joint efforts to curtail rising cases of armed cattle theft in Adjumani

Adjumani DPC SSP Moses Bwire addresing mourners during the funeral service of Mr. Joseph Baru, a herdsman who was shot as he returned from a day-long search for his cows

Adjumani, (UG):- The leaders in Adjumani and security chiefs have agreed to burry hatchets following a sustained cross-border cattle theft by armed thieves that escalated into a mass protest leading to the death of a herdsman on May 14, 2024, as police responded with tear gas and live bullets.

The herdsmen in Arinyapi sub-county that borders South Sudan’s border town Nimule have continuously accused the government of paying death ears as since 2009, cattle armed thieves have been raiding their kraals unchallenged and documents indicate that the cumulative number of herds of cattle stolen have reached 2.675.

The residents earlier on accused the RDC Mr Taban Data Peter and the police of reneging on their duties of protecting the properties of citizens despite several complaints registered in their offices.

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“We have from reliable unbiased sources ascertained that the cattle keeping Balalus and Banyankole are collaborating with the armed cattle keeping Dinka ethnicity in South Sudan which has made it difficult to recover the stolen animals even when we have severally located them in Nimule town,” one of the enraged residents told this publication.

The deceased Adjumani DPC SSP Moses Bwire addresing mourners during the funeral service on May 22,202Mr. Joseph Baru a herdsman was shot as he returned from a day-long search for his cows that were stolen the previous night only to be met with flying bullets fired by the police who were dispersing a rowdy crowd who had staged a roadblock at Tete bridge along Adjumani town-Elegu border town road.

Mr. Baru was rushed to Adjumani General Referral Hospital but briefed his last shortly after being admitted sparking furry from leaders and the residents of Arinyapi but the swift intervention of the district leaders led by Adjumani woman MP Ababiku Jesca helped restore order.

During a tense requiem mass held at the ancestral home on May 20, 2024, the Adjumani DPC SSP Moses Bwire asked for forgiveness from the bereaved family members since the action of the police officer was not deliberate.

“We ask for forgiveness where we may have gone wrong given the nature of the equipment, we use at times we cause injuries leading to death but it was not deliberate, that’s why we avoid confrontations with the population”.

“Effective today, May 23, 2024, the police will deploy a patrol pick-up at Elegu sub-county headquarters to aid the foot patrol police and request the sub-county leadership to convene a crisis meeting so that we will jointly agree on how the escape roots can be mapped and intensify on intelligence gathering and laisse with UPDF for joint operations,” the DPC said.

Mr Bwire personally contributed shs 500, 000 towards burial expenses and said he had written to police headquarters for financial support for the funeral expenses but as usual the money whose value he did divulge is being processed.

Mr. Mawadri Geroge who represented the family victim Baru Joseph said the deceased has left behind 12 children and two wives and that most of the children are still in school and called upon the government to find ways of supporting the education of the children since their father died a needless death in the hands of the police force.

Addressing the nervous mourners, the district chairman Mr. Anyama Ben has laid conditions for peaceful coexistence between the police and the wanainchi in Arinyapi sub-county as concerted effort is needed to curtail and defeat the prevalent and massive cattle theft in the area.

Mr. Anyama advised the police to resolve the issue of establishment of police post at the sub county headquarters and withdraw the case of participating in illegal assembly and threatening violence against 14 accused persons who were arrested during the protests which is still pending in Adjumani magistrate grade one court.

“On the loss of the 2675 herds of cattle, I will draw the attention of the president to the matter since other sub-regions in the north have been compensated for the loss of cattle especially during the 20 years of LRA insurgency”. Mr Anyama assured.

Adjumani Woman MP Ababiku Jesca flanked by Adjumani East MP Mamawi James lay a wrath at the late Baru’s casket

The Woman MP, Hon Jesca Ababiku voiced deep grief upon the loss of the herdsman particularly when he met his death after searching for his 8 cows’ whole day only to be shot dead upon arrival at home.

“Am much aware that the basic economic activity of the populace in Arinyapi is cattle keeping owing to the nature of the soil and the serial presence of the elephants that routinely destroys crop gardens leaving peasant farmers in utter pain,” she said.

MP Ababiku told mourners that she had ascertained that some of the sons of the soil were working together with the cattle thieves that’s why they have been acting swiftly without being detected in time because they are familiar with the terrain and darting escape paths.

She promised to educate two of the orphans and called upon the populaces to remain calm as the government prepares the ground for thorough security measures because cross-border theft is not easy to truncate.

The deputy RDC Mr Okware Emmanuel said the issue of cattle theft was exhaustively discussed and practical resolutions were proposed in the last district security committee meeting held on May 15, 2024, as the government craved for a long-term solution to the situation which is not a walkover since the sub-county lies along the international border.

Mr Okware said the security committee has resolved to convene an emergency Sub County security committee meeting at Arinyapi sub-county headquarters on June 1, 2024, and it was deemed necessary to involve the local leaders so that it will resolve a bigger problem with a merger of local solutions.

He said owing to the extent and sensitivity of the matter the committee will look at avenues of shielding or securing the porous border points with the possibility of establishing UPDF detach and requested the local leaders and the aggrieved residents not look at the past but concentrate on fighting the common enemy.

The local leaders in Arinyapi believe the government is acting selectively in as far as compensations of communities for the loss of cows is concerned citing communities in Acholi, Lango and Teso sub regions who were compensated for the loss of cows in the 20 years of LRA insurgency.

“We are aware that the mandate of Uganda Police Force as provided in the constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and Uganda Police Force Act; which is the protection of life and property, prevention and detection of crime, keeping law and order, and maintenance of overall security and public safety in Uganda”.

They said it is against this constitutional background that they will have to indulge in elaborate consultations to inform their next course of action but any could not rule out legal action if the response of the government is not satisfactory.

In 2009, the community in Arinyapi sub county lost over 600 cows during a single night raid, they raised the matter with the office of the RDC and got permission to cross to South Sudan, they managed to identify their cows but made no recovery as the authority declined to cooperate.

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