Arua hotel owner speaks out on gun claims

Targeted. Pacific Hotel in Arua Town was ransacked by soldiers last Monday. PHOTO BY FRANKLIN DRAKU

What you need to know:

Procedure. Proprietor says hotel staff search all their clients and all firearms are deposited at the reception and kept in a safe room.

The management of Hotel Pacific has dismissed allegations by the police and other security forces that guns were found at the hotel.

Mr Luiji Candia, the hotel manager, told Daily Monitor that the guns the police exhibited were not got from Hotel Pacific.
He said the hotel staff search all their clients before accessing the rooms and all firearms are always deposited at the reception and kept in a safe room. He also said there was no way the suspects could have smuggled in guns because the hotel only has one access to the guest rooms.

“These people (security men) did not get any gun here. They should be ashamed to tell lies to the public that they got guns. If they got the guns from somewhere, they should tell the public instead of blaming our hotel. They are just implicating these people for their own selfish political interests,” Mr Candia said.

The hotel was last Monday night raided by soldiers believed to be from the Special Forces Command.
Mr Candia said the soldiers ransacked all the rooms, stole money, laptops of clients and picked all the valuables.
He also said the soldiers and police are using his hotel and vandalism of the President’s car to cover for their own crimes of violence meted against the innocent people.

According to Mr Candia, the security operatives broke into 22 rooms as they carried out their search. They also arrested two of the staff and beat them up. One of the staff was released last Tuesday afternoon while a female employee of the hotel is still detained at Arua Central Police Station.

Staff, guests brutalised
He said during the attack on the hotel, staff members were beaten, doors broken and all the guests were brutalised and their property taken.

“They have taken away my livelihood. I am crippled and sick, this was my only source of income,” he asked.
“My guests have reported to me that their laptops, phones, money and all valuables were taken away, so I need someone to pay for all this,” he said.

Mr Candia said the hotel accommodates any person irrespective of tribe, colour, religion or political affiliation.
Mr Candia said he is demanding compensation from the government.
“I will file for damages of the property and also what the guests lost. I have a got a lawyer friend who is drafting the suit against the security forces. If they want us to negotiate out of court, I will give them the chance. But if they want us to go through the court, my team is ready,” he added.

However, the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, said the army will not compensate the hotel for the losses.
Brig Karemire said the army owe nothing to the hotel, but asked the owner to follow those who caused the violence.
“Who caused the violence? Let him go and follow them, did UPDF cause the violence? We have nothing to do with him and we shall not compensate him,” Brig Karemire said.

Last Monday night, UPDF soldiers and police raided Pacific Hotel in search for Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and his crew, after violence broke out in Arua Town on the final day of campaign in the Arua Municipality by-election.
Mr Kyagulanyi’s driver, Yasiin Kawuma was shot dead at the hotel.

Mr Kyagulanyi and Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake where severely beaten by soldiers. Mr Zaake is in critical condition at Rubaga Hospital while Mr Kyagulanyi is being detained at Makindye Military Barracks.
Last Wednesday afternoon, the police led by the West Nile public relations officer, Ms Josephine Angucia, displayed two AK 47 assault rifles, a pistol, 15 phones and six red T-shirts, and 46 white tablets in a tin alleging recovered in Mr Kyagulanyi’s hotel room.

“Kassiano Wadri was also arrested and found with a pistol with 12 rounds of ammunition,” Ms Angucia said.
Asked if these were privately licensed guns, Ms Angucia said: “Our ballistic experts are still verifying them.”
She said the police has preferred charges of illegal possession of firearms against Mr Kyagulanyi.

Last Tuesday, Opposition MPs Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality), Paul Mwiri (Jinja East), Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Kassiano Wadri (MP-elect Arua Municipality) and Mike Mabikke (former Makindye East MP), were arrested along other 30 people and charged with treason, incitement to violence on the last day of campaigns for the Arua Municipality seat. They appeared in court in Gulu and were remanded.