Business in Lira town remained closed for most of the morning on Monday as hundreds of traders converged at the Mayor’s Gardens to discuss security in the area following a spate of armed robberies and killings in the district.
The large crowd remained calm as they listened to testimonies of victims and a memorandum read by Mr Bosco Ogwang Edola, a director at Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Heavily armed anti-riot police and a contingent of soldiers remained on standby at CPS but dispersed after the meeting ended peacefully.
In the memorandum addressed to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Edola listed several killings and murders that have taken place in the district in recent times. He said five people have been killed in the last one week alone. He claimed that residents had lost faith in the police and asked that it (the police) is reinforced by the army in patrolling the town. “We now don’t have confidence in the police and they should be reinforced by the army when they do patrols,” he said, amidst applause.
RDC Susan Akany, who heads the district security committee, said her efforts in pacifying the district are being frustrated by the police and courts. Ms Akany said there is also political interference in the way criminal cases are handled in Lira. She alleged that there are some police officers in CID who have over-stayed, some for more than 15 years and that they are the ones mismanaging cases.
Lira Municipality MP Jimmy Akena condemned the deteriorating security and warned that people’s development project would be run down due to insecurity. Mr Akena said a person arrested with a gun or any weapon of war should be tried in military court just as is being done in other places.
Mr Christopher Aweki, who was allegedly robbed of Shs77m in 2012, said police have deliberately failed to trace the thugs despite the fact that the vehicle used in the robbery was recovered. He said he is not being helped.
State Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Sam Engola said he informed IGP Kale Kaihura, who dispatched a team to Lira. The three-man team is led by Commissioner in charge of Flying Squad Charles Kataratambi.
Engola told the people that the DPC, Mr Robert Sematta, is to be sent on leave as a new DPC was to arrive yesterday. He said he would also make sure police officers who have overstayed in Lira are transferred. Engola’s statement was received with wild cheers.