The family of a 25-year-old deaf and dumb man who was shot five times in the leg, allegedly by a Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel during an operation to enforce the 7pm to 6.30am curfew, have spoken out on circumstances under which their son was shot.
Mr Willy Oloya, a resident of Mugila West Village, Lacekoto parish, Adilang Sub-county in Agago District, is still receiving treatment at Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital, Kalongo, after his leg was amputated on Thursday last week.
A police report from Patongo Central Police Station indicated that Mr Oloya had sustained a third-grade bullet injury in his left thigh.
It is alleged that on April 7, at about 8.30pm, an LDU patrol team, which was on its way to Lacekoto army detach from a curfew operation in Adilang, fired several bullets at the victim after he failed to respond to their orders when they asked him to stop.
Mr Daniel Lagony, Mr Oloya’s uncle, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday that while the victim walked home the LDUs repeatedly asked him to stop, but he did not respond and continued walking since he could not hear, something that prompted the security personnel to start firing at him.
“They (LDUs) also stopped the area councillor for Lacekoto, Mr Denis Odur at the same spot and it was Mr Odur who helped them to identify Oloya as a deaf and dumb man whose home was next to the scene of crime,” he added.
Mr Odur told this newspaper on Monday that when he moved with the LDUs to see Oloya, he was bleeding profusely and had his sandals and torch by his side.
“He said Oloya was from easing himself, but he got scared at the sight of many soldiers, who started shooting at him,” Mr Odur said.
Mr Oloya was then taken to the nearby David Fagel Medical Centre in Adilang, before he was transferred to Dr Ambrosoli Hospital.
From the agony of a double impairment, the shooting soon added a third impairment to Mr Oloya’s list of physical disability after doctors at the hospital recommended an amputation since the bullet had crushed the main blood vessels in his thigh.
Mr Deo Obwor, Mr Oloya’s elder brother, told Daily Monitor that his brother had gone to ease himself in the nearby bushes since there was no toilet in the homestead.
“We were all together at home when he picked a torch and moved across the road towards the stream about 400 metres away when he met his fate,” Mr Obwor said.
“They started shouting at him from a distance and before reaching him to ascertain who he was, they simply started firing at him after their commander ordered for his shooting. He started to run and one of the bullets hit his leg,” he added.
Mr Obwor described the shooting as malicious and intended since the armed personnel knew that the victim was unarmed.
“The LDUs flashed their torches at him and instead of arresting him, they chose to fire more than 15 bullets at him, at worst he would have been detained or just beaten.”
Army takes over case
Mr John Bosco Ajuga, the officerin-charge of criminal investigations at Patongo Central Police Station, said they visited the scene of the shooting but declined to disclose their findings.
“We are actually done with the investigations into that matter since the case was reported to us,” he said.
But Mr Mohamad Okwir, the Adilang Sub-county chairperson, said on Tuesday that he was briefed by security officials that the LDUs shot at Oloya after mistaking him for a Karimojong cattle rustler.
“It happened very late and these LDUs simply thought he was one of the rustlers because that is one big problem we are battling here, although we really regret the incident,” Mr Okwir said.
Mr Linos Ngompek, the Agago Resident District Commissioner, said the UPDF 5th Division had taken over investigations into the matter.
“A case had been entered at Patongo Central Police and some of the suspects have so far recorded statements, but the army has now taken over the matter,” Mr Ngompek said, adding:
“Although no arrest had been made yet, yesterday, the army’s 5th Division intelligence team visited the scene and we believe by the end of this week, they would have established what exactly happened and who shot Oloya.”
NUDIPU SPEAKS OUT...
NUDIPU’s statement. At the weekend, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), issued a statement condemning Mr Oloya’s shooting and asked government to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.
“We received disturbing news of Mr Oloya’s shooting in Adilang Sub-county, Agago District. We, therefore, call on the government to ensure that justice is given to Mr Oloya and appropriate remedies given to them, including meeting medical costs,” the statement reads in part.
NUDIPU also called on the government to ensure all security briefing and reports take into consideration disability issues and perspectives, as well as put in place necessary measures to protect persons with disabilities in situations of risk, especially during the enforcement of measures such as the curfew.
Currently, 16.5 per cent of the total population of Uganda are Persons with Disabilities, according to Uganda Functional Difficulties Survey report, 2016.
This vulnerable section of the population may continue to suffer disproportionately in the Covid-19 response if they are not prioritised in the response efforts, NUDIPU said.
Recently, the Uganda Human Rights Commission said they had received 128 complaints of human rights violations during Covid-19 lockdown.