Barely three days into implementation of presidential directives on limiting the spread of Covid-19, Police in Gulu City are under the spotlight for allegedly recruiting Layibi boda bodas association for law enforcement.
Like many other riders, Mr Dickens Akera, a resident of Awer in Amuru District is now accusing the group of extorting money through mal-operations after he was arrested on June 9 at Lacor Trading Centre.
“It was exactly 6:05pm. I was heading back to Awer from town when three men pounced on me and confiscated my motorcycle. I fell, injured myself and broke my phone in the process but I had to pay Shs50, 000 to save my motorcycle,” he said.
Daily Monitor spot checks in several corners of the town indicate that members of the association could have been integrated into the area security systems.
Among the areas sampled were; Lacor Trading Center along Juba Highway, Airfield road and along Gulu-Kampala highway.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, at least 300 motorcycles were under a Police directive- impounded in Gulu by people disguising as members of the association.
Mr Richard Okwera said he conditionally paid Shs100, 000 on June 10 to save his son and the family’s motorcycle after he was victimized during the heightened operations.
“My son was chased until home and the motorcycle was picked from my compound and taken to Lacor ‘boda boda’ stage. Security leadership must act quickly before this vice gets severe,” Mr Okwera said.
Mr Johnson Nyero, an official attached to Gulu City ‘boda-boda’ association said that police authorized them to support them in implementing the directives on their behalf.
‘‘We were directed to charge Shs20, 000 for each impounded motorcycle. We were also instructed to take motorcycles of defiant riders to the Central Police station where offenders in this case would have to pay Shs220, 000.”
Acting Gulu DPC Mr Joseph Mumbere dismissed the claims but later admitted that Police was working with a ‘boda boda’ group.
“I told the ‘boda boda’ riders not to impound people’s motorbikes but only to tell them to move home if it’s beyond curfew time. They are impounding them illegally because they don’t even have the authority,” Mr Mumbere said.
However, Mr Nyero pins Police stating that: ‘‘There are books issued to us by police to record all the money received and the details of the motorcycles.’’
“We had a meeting with the police and other Gulu City taskforce at the Municipal yard and they gave us full authority to do the work. We’ve been arresting and impounding motorcycles since June 8,” Mr Nyero reveals.
Motorists say Police are just using the opportunity to make money from people.
According to Gulu Resident District Commissioner, Mr Denis Odongpiny, the Boda association volunteered in the Covid-19 fight.
“It’s true the leaders of the ‘boda boda’ association met with us but if they are extorting money then we shall get them arrested. We shall investigate and reprimand those involved. Whatever they are doing is illegal,” Mr Odongpiny said.