UPDF has warned collaborators and local criminal gangs involved in livestock theft that they will be dealt with like cattle raiders.
This is because they are jeopardizing UPDF efforts to curb the bad act in Lango and parts of the East Acholi sub-region.
This warning was sounded by the Second in Command 5 Infantry Division Col Gai Mpadwa in Labwodong Agago District today while presenting suspected collaborators and local criminal gangs before the media.
Col Gai told area local leaders and journalists that warriors from the districts of Karamoja have been causing mayhem and UPDF has stepped up efforts to scale down the raids. He promised to stamp out the vice completely.
He however decried the new tendency of local people disguising as Karamojong warriors, who steal from unsuspecting fellow local people.
The second in command paraded three youths Odong Denis 24, Abalo Sharon 28 and Ajok Anah 27. Odong Denis was arrested in the wee hours of Friday morning with 05 stolen goats belonging to Akidi Rose 52 of Otumpili East, Pacer parish, Parabongo Sub County in Agago District.
He told the meeting of locals and the media that such collaborators and criminal gangs have turned the raids to be commercial where they raid, skin the cows or goats and sell the meat to local restaurants; making it difficult for the army to track them.
He added that some locals are guided by Karamojongs quickly out of the area after raids to avoid falling into army ambushes. “Stop stealing from yourselves or else you will perish in that vice,” Col warned residents.
He stressed that all collaborators, criminal gangs and sympathisers will be arraigned before courts of law and charged accordingly.
Col Gai called upon the local leaders and the population to join hands with UPDF in stamping out cattle raids to ensure that peace prevails in the region.
Speaking at the same media briefing, the LC3 Chairman Parabongo Sub County Agago District, Mr. Stephen Ochan said it was a big shame to the people of Agago and Parabongo since they are the ones stealing from each other under the disguise of Karamojong warriors. “Its no longer difficult to accept having seen it with my own eyes and having heard the confessions of what has been happening,” said Mr. Ochan Stephen.
The tough-talking LC 3 Chairman requested the army to deal with collaborators and criminal gangs the same way they are dealing with Karamojong warriors. “Don’t have any mercy on them, let them reap from the consequences they are sowing. Why should you people risk well knowing that the people deployed to curb the vice are armed and purposely sent to our area to see that people are at peace,” wondered the LC 3 Chairman.
He also noted that Karamajong warriors are known for stealing cattle, not household property, money, chicken and pigs. “This is a clear indication that we are stealing from our colleagues disguising as warriors,” he noted.
Abalo Sharon 28 operates a bar and has been buying stolen goats and cows. She slaughters them and sells their meat to her clients in form of ‘mchomo’ in the evening and also serves some in her restaurant.
Ajok Anah 28 a tailor has also been buying stolen cattle, which she sells to other people outside Agago.
One of the witnesses Mr. Akera James 47, warned the arrested youth to stop stealing and was waylaid by the gang and beaten seriously, a case of aggravated bodily harm was reported to Kalongo police station SRB No.2804072023.
Operations to curb cattle theft have been tightened and investigations into the arrested suspects are still ongoing.