Exactly two weeks ago, we urged the security agencies in Gulu and Kitgum districts to stop the criminal gangs reported to have been terrorising the town residents, especially boda boda cyclists. Then, at least four boda boda riders had been reported shot dead and 11 motorcycles seized in Gulu town in one month. Since our call, the situation has worsened.
Only five days ago, a lecturer at Gulu University Andrew Rachkara was shot dead by some unknown gunmen in the heart of Gulu town and two businessmen also shot dead in Kitgum town. Overall, the unknown gangsters have now killed at least 15 people and have hijacked more than 150 boda boda motorcycles, according to Kilak County MP Gilbert Olanya’s statement to Parliament this week.
More worrying are the cases of broad daylight robberies in Gulu town as Omoro County MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah told Parliament on Tuesday.
These disturbances of public peace are frightful and the police and other security agencies must act now and end the spate of robberies and killings. The residents in Gulu and Kitgum are right to be frightful as reassurances by Aswa region police spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema that they should not panic because the police and other security agencies will break the criminal ring have not been fulfilled. As we argued before, for a region just emerging from a brutal 20-year-war, what the residents need now is a peaceful environment for post-war recovery and economic transformation.
This makes it imperative that the police and other security agencies halt the seizure of motorcycles and killings of boda boda riders, more so of those trying to pick up their lives by earning an honest living. If it must take the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, so be it. The IGP should get involved, camp in Gulu and Kitgum towns as he did in Lira town and stamp out the insecurity.
The IGP’s quick action is warranted because the robberies and killings in northern Uganda are never-ending cycles that have merely revolved from Lango to Acholi districts. Moreover, the residents have borne the evils for several months now.
This is why more action is demanded and not just remarks by General Duties minster Tarsis Kabwegyere that government has taken note of the fears expressed by MPs Olanya and Oulanyah.
Neither was it appropriate for Ms Rebecca Amuge Otengo as minister for northern Uganda to call for patience as residents in Gulu and Kitgum continue to be gunned down by armed criminals.
Indeed, no resident in northern Uganda need to be reminded of the two-decade-conflict in the region when guns were used to terrorise them.