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Local Vigilantes Keep Karimojong Cattle Thieves Away from Agago

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Agago Resident District Commissioner, Andrew Onyuk acknowledges the contribution of the vigilantes in the reduction of animal theft in the district. He says the groups are “alert”, the reason they succeeded in retrieving five cattle in Omiya Pacwa.
There is a decrease in livestock thefts by Karimojong raiders in Paimol and Omiya Pacwa Sub-counties in Agago District thanks to local vigilantes.

The two sub-counties registered several cases of cattle theft orchestrated by armed Karimojong thugs from the neighbouring Kotido district last year. In Paimol Sub-county alone, more than 150 cows were looted. Close to ten local farmers sustained severe body injuries during raids by the armed thugs between April and November last year.

To counter the influx of the armed Karimojong warriors, close to 1,000 youth and few elderly men armed with bow, arrows, and spears volunteered to guard kraals within the 68 villages in the sub-county. The vigilantes are backed by the army. George William Kilama, the Paimol Sub-County LC III Chairperson told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the presence of the vigilantes has greatly reduced cases of cattle theft.

He says the vigilantes foiled a cattle raid by Karimojong warriors in Lucum village in November last year adding that since then, no incident has been reported in the entire sub-county. Kilama says the secure environment has since boosted livestock farming in the area unlike last year when locals lived in fear of attracting thugs when they keep animals.

In Omiya Pacwa Sub-county, the local vigilantes over the weekend recovered five cattle that had been stolen by Karimojong cattle thieves. Agago Resident District Commissioner, Andrew Onyuk acknowledges the contribution of the vigilantes in the reduction of animal theft in the district. He says the groups are “alert”, the reason they succeeded in retrieving five cattle in Omiya Pacwa.

Onyuk, however, says the vigilante group needs to coordinate with security personnel and local leaders properly to avoid conducting their own operations. He says some incidences have been reported of the vigilantes levying high fees on cattle owners for recovery of their animals or even asking for an animal as their payment.

“They shouldn’t be left to operate on their own; they should be auxiliary to security forces like UPDF, and the GISO. They should be guided to do their thing, otherwise, if they are not regulated, they will be a danger to themselves,” said Onyuk. Brig William Bainomugisha, the fifth Infantry Division Commander lauded the vigilantes in the district, saying that their work is a partnership the army has had for a long time with locals in fighting insecurity.

He, however, cautioned the vigilantes against engaging in acts contrary to their roles of ensuring the safety of animals within communities. In Paimol Sub-county, at least six suspected Karimojong cattle thieves were killed by local vigilantes last year. They also successfully recovered over 90 cattle looted from farmers in various villages. Agago district, in general, registered more than 300 cases of cattle theft last year alone in the sub-counties of Paimol, Omiya Pacwa, Adilang, Lira Kato and Lapono.

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