One shot dead, URA office torched in clashes with boda boda cyclists
What you need to know:
- Trouble started after tax collectors allegedly knocked and injured a suspected smuggler.
One person was yesterday shot dead in Koboko District and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) office at Oraba border set alight after tax collectors allegedly knocked and injured a suspected smuggler.
Badru Adui, 27, a resident of Arumadri cell, Mengo Ward in Koboko Municipality, died of bullet wounds, police said, without identifying the shooter.
A rampaging mob assaulted New Vision journalist Abdurahuman Ayoub, leaving him hospitalised. Investigators said a bullet also caught an unnamed woman in the arm.
By mid-morning, a staccato of bullets fired by a combined police-army force rang out, echoing across the border in the undulating terrains of South Sudan.
The suspected smuggler was reportedly carrying 320 litres of fuel in sixteen 20-litre jerrycans from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when a URA enforcement vehicle hit him in Oraba, belted to the west by DRC and bordered by South Sudan in the north.
As news of the incident, which residents believed to be intentional, spread, boda boda riders in Oraba and nearby Koboko Town mobilised in large numbers and overwhelmed the guards.
The torched the URA border office, burning a photocopier, computers, files, furniture, official documents and a motorcycle parked outside the building.
Some cash went up in flames, said Ms Josephine Angucia, the police spokesperson for West Nile, adding that detectives were yet to ascertain the amount.
“Right now, the police and army are firing live bullets to disperse angry youth, who claim one of their colleagues was knocked by URA enforcement officers. The town is not safe,” a witness told this newspaper as the mayhem spread.
The mob hurled stones and other projectiles at security officers, who responded with bullets.
“As the protests escalated into riots, occupants of a motor vehicle registration UAW 848U, suspected to be carrying URA enforcement team, shot bullets towards the violent rioters, which consequently resulted in the killing of one person and injuring of three others,” Ms Angucia said.
No suspect had by press time been taken into custody over the riot, Ms Angucia said of the showdown that opened old wounds and underlined the continuing fractious relation between the tax body and the business community in West Nile.
Koboko Mayor Wilson Sanya said Adui was an innocent victim.
“This is not what we had agreed with URA and boda boda men. We agreed that a better way of enforcement be done where URA enforcers were not supposed to shoot people, no banging a boda boda with car doors and not to continue chasing [an escaping boda boda]. This is an old way of collecting taxes. The URA is to be blamed and they should take responsibility,” he said.
Mr Ian Rumanyika, the URA spokesman, confirmed yesterday’s ruckus in Koboko, but referred our inquiries to the tax body’s northern regional manager Godson Mwesigye.
Mr Mwesigye first told this newspaper that he was in a meeting, but never received nor returned follow-up calls.
Fallouts between traders, particularly suspected smugglers in West Nile, which straddles the DRC and South Sudan borders, and URA enforcement officials is nothing new.
In 2009, tax collectors shot three suspected smugglers in Koboko Town, sparking a protest in which civilians overran a police station and set a car ablaze.
On September 20 last year, URA enforcers allegedly shot dead Mr Bosco Jurua of Arivu Sub-county in Arua District, as they tried to impound an unregistered motorcycle that he was riding.
That day, residents erupted in a demonstration, stalling travel on the Arua-Nebbi highway for hours.
Additional Reporting by Ronald Acema