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Whistleblower petitions parliament over unending livestock thefts in Tooro

Some of the suspected cattle thieves at Fort Portal Police Station

Kabarole, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  A whistleblower has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga to probe the unending livestock thefts in the Tooro region. 

In the past months livestock which include cows, pigs, sheep and goats have been stolen from Kichwamba and Rwebisengo Sub Counties in Kabarole and Ntoroko District respectively.     

Records at Rwenzori Regional Police Department show that 170 goats, 30 cows and 10 sheep have been stolen since the beginning of the year. The police have also arrested more than 15 suspects, but none has been produced in court. 

The whistleblower has also petitioned the Chief of Defence Forces, David Muhoozi, Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola and the Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit in State House, Edith Nakalema.

According to the whistleblower, the thieves are allegedly being protected by the Kabarole Resident District Commissioner, Stephen Asiimwe and Ignatius Otongo, the Rwenzori Regional Police Commander.  

The whistleblower alleges that when the suspects are arrested by members of the community and taken to the police, they are immediately released on the orders of Asiimwe and Otongo.   

“The RDC Steven Asiimwe has knowledge of these livestock thefts but to our surprise, he never took any action. We are of the view that he is a beneficiary of the sales from the robberies of the animals,” notes the whistleblower in the petition.    

Last month, police from Ntoroko district impounded 48 stolen goats that had been stolen from Rwebisengo town council in Ntoroko district. The goats were found hidden in a forest in Mugusu zone Kihingami village, Busoro sub-county Kabarole district.   

Four suspects believed to have been behind the theft were arrested and later released a day after.  They were Robert Kagaba, Galata Kadir, Muhamed, John Manihiro and Ali Mugisa, who is the Kihangami LCI Chairperson and a former Gombolola Internal Security Officer.     

A source at Fort Police Station who preferred anonymity says that it was the third time Mugisa was being arrested in connection to livestock thefts.     According to the source the stolen livestock, especially goats, are slaughtered and sold by Mugisa and his agents to butchers in Fort Portal while other goats are sold during market days in Mugusu, Kichwamba sub-counties.     

The whistleblower says that members of the public are concerned that efforts in preventing crime are being frustrated by the security personnel. He explains that residents know who the thieves are and have reported to police and other security agencies, but nothing has been done.     

“The residents have reported to police that Mugisa and many others at night bring the sheep and goats on a Boda Boda and hide them in forests, but security has done nothing,” notes the whistleblower.    

However, in an interview, Asiimwe refuted the allegations, saying that his work should be appreciated because he has contained livestock thefts in the district.   

According to Asiimwe, he has been at the forefront in conducting operations against livestock thefts. He says that when Mugisa was arrested last year for stealing cows, he recommended that the gun is withdrawn, which was done by the army.       

Asiimwe instead blames some leaders and residents for shielding the criminals by refusing to avail information to police and LCI leaders.   

When contacted for a comment Otongo denied the allegations. However, URN has seen communication Otongo sent to the District Police Commander Kabarole, Jamal Kanyesigye ordering him not to carry out any operations against livestock thefts without his consent.




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