Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament from the northern and eastern regions affected by cattle rustling have called for a fresh disarmament process in Karamoja to curb the vice.
The MPs from Karamoja, Acholi, Teso, Lango, and Bugisu sub-regions say that there has been a resurgence of cattle rustling that is unprecedented due to the rise in the number of guns and open markets for their sale.
The MPs have reported deaths in their constituents, coupled with cattle rustling and intimidation of the public by warriors and criminals.
In a joint press conference held on Thursday, 31 March 2022 at Parliament, the lawmakers dismissed a statement from the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) Spokesperson claiming that the region of Karamoja is now calm.
The Chairperson of the Karamoja Parliamentary Group, Achia Remigio said there is a need for investigations into the source of guns and why cattle are transported away from Kampala despite directives against it.
Achia says that whereas Karamoja is at the core of the criminality, the neighbouring districts have also been affected.
He demanded that government re-starts the disarmament process since guns have multiplied in the hands of the people. The group also demanded to meet President Museveni so that they can express their frustration on the matter. Achia added that there are several markets clandestinely operating the sale of guns.
“We were so disgusted and appalled that in the middle of this pain and sorrow, someone can come up and tell the country that the situation in Karamoja is calm, and yet people are being killed daily,” he said.
He also warned against continued reference to cattle rustlers as Karamojong rustlers, and yet rustlers come all the way from Kenya among others to disturb the peace. He also added that there are many good Karamojong residents that are simply victims and need protection.
Soroti District Woman MP, Hellen Alobo called for the return of the Arrow Boys, a vigilante group to secure Karamoja and the areas affected by cattle rustling and killings.
Alobo said that the youths who have also been affected by the cattle rustling are passionate about defending their livelihoods. According to Alobo, the government can train and equip the group.
“Government should allow us to mobilize the arrow boys to come on board. Government should empower them with the necessary equipment,” she said.
The MPs said that security forces have been slow to respond to cattle rustlers even when they are called by the public.
Bosco Okiror, the Usuk County MP and Chairperson Teso Parliamentary group said that the region’s leadership has on several occasions made attempts to address the matter through meetings with various stakeholders, but to date, there has been no solution.
“The weight has become too heavy for us to bear. We have tried to sit in several meetings to address this issue of cattle rustling but this has not been successful. We have been patient but we can’t hold on anymore,” Okiror said.
Faith Nakut, the Woman MP for Napak said that there is no need to boast of Uganda’s security capacity abroad, and yet at home, people are suffering.
“If our voices where heard when we made a request on the required measures, we wouldn’t have lost so many. Most households in Karamoja are now headed by women, men are being killed, Karamoja needs to be rescued,” Nakut said.
She said government needs to come out clearly and say if Karamoja is now impossible to rescue, so that the locals can be mobilized.