For the past weeks, several Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) detaches have been established along the Karamoja borderlines to curb the rampant cattle rustling in the region that has hit new heights in the last three months.
However, the parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs has asked the government to investigate ‘shady dealings’ of UPDF deployed in the region.
The Shadow Minister for Internal Affairs, Abdallah Kiwanuka said that some UPDF officers deployed to restore peace and security in Karamoja have reportedly taken advantage of the insecurity in the region to acquire mass wealth and property.
“During my interaction with some MPs from the region, I was informed that the security team in Karamoja has overstayed and gained interests; they are now dealers in minerals and are busy grabbing land,” Kiwanuka said.
This was during a meeting of the committee chaired by Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro with officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its allied institutions on their ministerial policy statement for the financial year 2022/23.
The 1995 Constitution mandates UPDF to defend and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda and ensure the non-violability of peoples’ rights.
In this regard, Kiwanuka demanded that the current security team be reshuffled because they have been in Karamoja for more than five years with little or no gain in terms of restoration of peace and security.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire who led the team denied any knowledge of security personnel in Karamoja involved in such dealings and urged MPs with such information to volunteer it for investigation.
“I have not heard this information and I would like to rally MPs who are privy to this information to bring it to me. But also, overstaying has positive and negative attributes. When someone overstays in an area, they get to know it like the back of their hands, but also the temptation to do [deals] is also there,” Gen Otafiire said.
Otafiire said he is ready to team up with the Minister of Defence to investigate and come to establish whether the allegations are true or not.
Kanyum County Legislator Simon Peter Opolot expressed dissatisfaction with how the Ministry of Internal Affairs is handling the situation in Teso and Karamoja saying despite Kumi District not bordering Karamoja, he has lost two constituents to Karimojong warriors who attacked them while they were fishing.
Peter Okeyoh, the Bukooli county MP attributed the prevailing insecurity to unregulated firearms thus calling for effective and timely regulation.
“We need to know how far the government has gone with marking firearms because a lot of firearms are in the wrong hands and this explains the current situation we are in. How much are the authorities doing to regulate and supervise the use of firearms in the hands of private security guards?” Okeyoh asked.