Joint security forces have transferred 313 suspected Karamojong rustlers arrested from Kotido to Agago district to face various charges including rape, murder, and theft. The suspects were arrested in joint security operations conducted by the army, police, and the Anti Stock Theft Unit-ASTU in Kotido district for two days.
The suspects according to security officials have been causing havoc to the people in districts of Lango and Acholi regions. While flagging off three trucks transporting the suspects from Kotido Central Police Station to Agago on Friday, Brig. Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd division commander said the suspects will be screened before they appear in court. He said those who will be found innocent will be transported back to Kotido while those with a criminal record will face the law.
According to Brig Balukudembe, it’s the first time security has arrested and transported the rustlers to face the law from the district where they commit crimes. “We want to make this arrangement to show other rustlers that whoever will not stop raiding will face the same consequences,” he said.
However, Grace Nakut, a mother of six whose husband was among the suspects blames security for conducting indiscriminate arrests, saying her husband was picked up while weeding his maize garden. “Am surprised how security carries out their arrest. How can you arrest people even those who are in their gardens? she asked.
Nangiro Losia, another woman said she has been surviving with her husband through charcoal burning since he abandoned cattle rustling in 2010. “We have been living our normal life but security just comes and orders him to board their vehicles without any reason,” she said. John Ngiro, a human rights activist based in Kotido has appealed to the forces to respect the rights of the suspects and stop cooking up charges against innocent people just because they are Karimojong.