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LAMWO: Thugs robbing motorcycles in exchange for guns

Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Thugs from Lamwo district are using the porous border between Uganda and South Sudan to smuggle guns into the country, local leaders have revealed.

Richard Olal, the Chief of Paracele Clan in Nymur sub-county in Lamwo, says that the proximity of the district to South Sudan and the numerous access roads give leeway to the thugs to smuggle in guns. Olal appealed to the security personnel to deploy on the routes or close them, to restore peace in the district.

Geoffrey Osborn Oceng, the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner acknowledged the problem, saying that they have intensified operations around the border to weed out the wrong elements. Oceng noted that the first step towards fighting gun smuggling and associated crimes started last week with a meeting in South Sudan, where leaders from both countries signed an agreement on joint management of security along the common border.

The agreement was signed between Kitgum and Lamwo district security committees and the commissioners of Budi, Magwi, and Ikwotos counties in South Sudan. Oceng said among the 21 issues the leaders agreed to collectively work on are; eliminating of cross- border crime and infiltration of guns into Uganda.

Oceng revealed that the gun dealers start as smugglers of fuel, and later graduate to exchanging guns with motorcycles robbed from boda boda riders. According to Oceng, the thugs smuggle fuel for less than a year and start dealing with guns.

The leaders’ comments follow the arrest of two men from Lamwo in connection with robbery of two boda bodas in Acholi sub-regions last month. On February 17th, unknown gunmen shot dead two people and injured another in separate incidents targeting boda boda riders over the weekend in Acholi sub-region.

The deceased were identified by police as Ivan Omara, a resident of Pandowng Division in Kitgum Municipality, and Caesar Okot 32, a resident of Tedam Cell in Bardege ward, Bardege-Layibi Division. The following day, Alfred Canomita Otika, another boda boda rider in Kitgum Municipality sustained injuries on his fingers after being shot at in Akworo village, Amida East sub-county on Friday evening.

Oceng said all the suspects were trailed to Lamwo where one of the suspects confessed that they rob the motorcycles in exchange for guns in South Sudan. One of the motorcycles was recovered from Palabek Ogili sub-county in Lamwo district.

Last year, a joint force of police and the army rounded key suspects behind a spate of murders targeting boda boda riders after four riders were killed by unknown gunmen in the Acholi sub-region.

According to the 2022 Police Annual Crime Report, a total of 412 cases of aggravated robbery of motorcycles were reported, compared to 258 cases reported in 2021, giving a 59.7% increase in the reported cases in this crime category.

Aswa River region registered 29 cases, making it the 4th out of the 16 regions across the country with the highest number of registered cases of aggravated robbery of motorcycles.

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