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Security personnel in Gulu accused of persistent brutality, extortion

FILE PHOTO: Police patrol truck

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Security personnel in Gulu implementing the Presidential directives to curb the spread of COVID-19 have been accused of continued brutality and extortion.

Victims being brutalized and extorted during patrols and night curfews include boda-boda cyclists; shop keepers, mechanics, restaurant operators, welding and metal fabrication workers as well as and street vendors among other who operate in Pece, Layibi, Bardege and Laroo divisions.

Robert Oceng, a resident of Laroo division says that he was arbitrarily arrested and brutalized by police and LDUs at around 6:45 pm early this week on his way home before they demanded 15,000 Shillings for his release.

Tobias Owiny, a correspondent for the Daily Monitor newspaper fell in the same trap on Saturday 2nd around Custom Corner in Layibi division before he was ordered pay to pay 5,000 for his freedom. The patrol team also confiscated Owiny’s voice recorder.

Owiny has since lodged a formal complaint of his alleged torture and extortion against the patrol team of police officers backed by the military at Gulu Central Police Station – CPS. He also wants his voice recorder unconditionally returned.

James Onono, another concerned citizen reported an incident in which policemen demanded cash payment from a truck driver in Unyama sub-county for transporting building sand amid a ban on public and private motor vehicles.

Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson, Patrick Jimmy Okema appealed to the public to always lodge formal complaints at any nearby police post for redress.

On Monday, Ezekiel Emitu, the Aswa River Region Police Commander condemned acts of extortion by errant juniors during a meeting held in Gulu of heads of departments; District Police Commanders (DPCs) and officers in charge of criminal investigations.

Last month, 16 security personnel who included 10 police officers and six UPDF soldiers were arrested from Elegu Town Council in Amuru District for brutalizing 38 people who allegedly defied the President’s COVID-19 directives.

The six army officers have since been sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to the offence before the 4th UPDF Division Court Martial in Gulu while the police officers are still awaiting court verdict.

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