By Benson Tumusiime
Wednesday April 12, 2023
Army and police officers display the guns recovered during the operation in Moroto District at the weekend. PHOTO | COURTESY | UPDF
The 3rd Division Military Court Martial based in Moroto District in the Northern region has sentenced 32 Kenyan nationals to 20 years in Moroto Government Prison over illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.Section 119 of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Act says any person found with weapons, ammunition or equipment that is a monopoly of the armed forces will be subject to Military Law and tried by the Court Martial.
The 32 Kenyans all residents of Orum Sub County in Lodwar District, Turkana County were convicted on their own plea of guilty and sentenced by the court presided over by the 3rd Division Court Martial Chairman, Col Benard Arinaitwe Tuhame.
On April 8, the UPDF together with police conducted a successful cordon and search operation in the areas of Lokiriaut, Nadunget sub-county where 31 guns and 752 rounds of ammunition were recovered from Turkana pastoralists in Moroto District.
The UPDF 3rd Division commander, Brig Gen Joseph Balikuddembe, told the Monitor in an interview that the operation, which also led to the recovery of 19 bow and arrows, was conducted in Lokereyot Village, Nadunget sub-county, about 50kms from Moroto Town, in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
“It was a well-executed operation after intelligence leads indicated that the kraal in the village owned by the Turkana pastoralists was a hideout for guns,” Brig Balikuddembe explained.
Brig Balikuddembe said one warrior was killed during the operation while others were injured.
“Joint security forces minimised as much as possible the number of casualties despite the heavy crossfire that injured five warriors, one UPDF soldier, while one warrior was put out of action as he tried to flee the scene with a gun,” he said.
Brig Balikuddembe said that about 129 suspects were arrested in the operation, but the criminal files for the 32 suspects are the ones which were ready by Tuesday for prosecution.
Over years, Karamoja and Turkana have been a hub of illegal guns which are ferried in through the porous borders of Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Somalia. It is these guns that have been used during cattle raids, which have increased in recent times and taken a toll on human life within Karamoja and the neighbouring areas of Teso, Sebei, Lango and Acholi.