UWA, army on the spot over new assault on Apaa locals

Speaking out. Ms Beatrice Lakot, a resident of Apaa Village, during an interview with Daily Monitor in Gulu Town last Saturday. PHOTO BY JULIUS OCUNGI

What you need to know:

Attack. Residents claim they were attacked by 10 soldiers on August 27.

Residents of Apaa Village in Itirikwa Sub-county, Adjumani District have accused Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers of assaulting and forcing them to vacate the area.
The allegations come a week after President Museveni visited the contested area and held meetings with Acholi and Madi leaders in a bid to bring to an end disputes between the two communities over the land.

Ms Beatrice Lakot, 23, a mother of four children and a resident of Punudyang Parish in Apaa Village told Daily Monitor in an interview last Friday, that 10 armed men attacked her and three others on August 27 while they were going to the Gaji market.

“We had arrived early and decided to branch off to refresh at the banks of River Nile when a boat carrying UPDF and UWA personnel came towards us,” she narrates.

She added: “Having seen them, we tried running but the armed men after docking their boat chased after us. I was the first to be caught since I had a child. A soldier started by slapping my ears while threatening me that he would kill me…,”

Ms Lakot is among other several women who have defied the President’s order to leave Apaa.
She added that another soldier grabbed her baby and threw her on the ground before pushing her down too.
“They kicked my chest, jumped on my thighs and back so hard. One of them took my Shs100,000. He demanded for my phone saying that we always use phones to report them,” she said.

Medical test conducted at Fitzman Medical Centre in Gulu Municipality on Saturday, a copy which Daily Monitor has seen, revealed that Ms Laker is out of danger but suffered soft tissue injuries on the thighs and back resulting from the alleged torture.

Mr Bosco Otema, the victim’s husband, said a commander of the armed men warned them to leave the area before the situation worsens alleging that the President had given them orders.

“They said we should not grow any crops, erect any structure but leave before things turn violent. I am worried that we shall lose our land yet that’s where we grew up from,” he said.

Mr Tonny Olinga, the UWA commander for East Madi game reserve, said the residents are in a gazetted Wildlife game reserve and will be evicted under all circumstances.
He said residents settled in Punudyang, Gaji and Acholi ber parishes are within a game reserve.

Eviction orders
“I have received orders to evict those settled on the wildlife game reserve, which haven’t commenced yet. They are encroachers and a threat to conservation. We have the mandate to protect the area,” Mr Olinga said.
The 4th Division Fourth Infantry Division Spokesperson, Maj Telesphor Turyamumanya said he was not aware of any latest UPDF deployment in Apaa land.
Efforts by Daily Monitor to reach Kilak North legislator Anthony Akol were futile as he did not pick our repeated phone calls.