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Local leaders in Karamoja cautioned against concealing cattle thefts

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Security personnel in Karamoja have accused local council leaders of concealing information about stolen livestock which is hindering recovery efforts.

The accusations follow the declining recovery of stolen livestock as well as the low recovery rate for illegal firearms following the expiry of three months of voluntary and forceful disarmament in the sub-region.

Last week, the Anti-Stock Theft Unit-ASTU zones in Karamoja reported the theft of 1,467 heads of cattle across Karamoja and only 209 were recovered. 545 goats were also reported to have been stolen and 69 were recovered and handed over to the owners.

The security personnel have attributed the low recoveries to the concealment of information about the stolen cattle in the village by the LCI chairpersons, who are in charge of security.

According to the security personnel, the LCs only report about the raids in their villages yet they never report about stolen cattle brought to the kraals in their areas of responsibility.

The Police Spokesperson Karamoja region, Michael Longole says the LCs are less cooperative in reporting about stolen animals harboured in their villages.

“We have noted with concern that our cooperation with some leaders especially those at village level has not been 100% in terms of reports we receive for cattle rustling. Their reports indicate animals taken by cattle rustlers who have raided them, ignoring animals brought by cattle rustlers who are residents in their villages,” says Longole.

However, sections of the LCI chairpersons have refuted the allegations saying they have always cooperated with the security organs on cattle rustling. They say they have even made a step further to arrest suspected criminals but the police have often released them without producing them in the courts of law.

Acia Apakwang, the chairperson Loddoi village in Nadunget sub county, Moroto district says they have fully cooperated with the security organs and insists there is need for security personnel to dialogue with the LCI chairpersons on security matters, adding that some of the criminals are threatening them with death if they report their action to the security personnel.

Acia says despite the threats, they have worked with the security organs in trying to foster peace in the communities.

Lometo Lotukei, another village chairperson in Natapara-Akwaan, Loputuk sub county in Moroto district says they are only victims of cattle rustling and his community is not involved in raids and therefore has nothing to report about stolen cattle in his area.

Lotukei is calling for peaceful dialogue between the communities of the 9 districts of Karamoja for sustainable peace.

The joint security forces always impound cattle from a whole parish if some stolen animals are seen amongst the kraals in a given area as a punitive measure to curtail cattle raids and thefts.

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