Updated 1046 EAT on 18th April 2022.
The Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs has asked the Government to investigate shady dealings of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) deployed in Karamoja sub region.
Several UPDF detaches have been established along the Karamoja borderlines to curb the rampant cattle rustling in the region that has hit new heights in the last three months.
According to the Shadow Minister for Internal Affairs, Hon. Abdallah Kiwanuka, some UPDF officers deployed to restore peace and security in Karamoja have reportedly taken advantage of the insecurity in the region to amass wealth and property.
The 1995 Constitution mandates UPDF to defend and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda and ensure non-violability of peoples’ rights.
“During my interaction with some MPs from the region, I was informed that the security team in Karamoja has overstayed and gained interests; they are now dealers in minerals and are busy grabbing land,” Abdallah Kiwanuka said.
This was during a meeting of the committee chaired by Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro with officials from Ministry of Internal Affairs and its allied institutions on their ministerial policy statement for financial year 2022/23 on Thursday, 14 March 2022.
Abdallah Kiwanuka demanded that the current security team be reshuffled because they have been in Karamoja for more than five years with little or no gain in terms of restoration of peace and security.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire who led the team denied any knowledge of security personnel in Karamoja involved in such dealings and urged MPs with such information to volunteer it for investigation.
“I have not heard this information and I would like to rally MPs who are privy to this information to bring it to me. But also, overstaying has positive and negative attributes. When someone overstays in an area, they get to know it like the back of their hands, but also the temptation to do [deals] is also there,” Gen Otafiire said.
Otafiire said he is ready to team up with the Minister of Defence to investigate such allegations.
“If we find what you are saying is correct then we shall take corrective actions,” he said.
Hon. Simon Peter Opolot (NRM, Kanyum County) expressed dissatisfaction with how the Ministry of Internal Affairs is handling the situation in Teso and Karamoja saying despite Kumi District not bordering Karamoja, he has lost two constituents to Karimojong warriors who attacked them while they were fishing.
Bukooli Island County MP, Hon. Peter Okeyoh blamed the prevailing pockets of insecurity to unregulated firearms.
“We need to know how far government has gone with marking firearms because a lot of firearms are in the wrong hands and this explains the current situation we are in. How much are the authorities doing to regulate and supervise the use of firearms in the hands of private security guards?” Okeyoh asked.
In their policy statement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs intends to fast-track the enactment of the Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Bill to address the increasing proliferation of small arms and light weapons.