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Apaa Residents Decry Arrests by Security Personnel

13 people have been arrested in the past two weeks in separate incidents. On 25th October, nine people were arrested from Gazi village by Uganda Wildlife Authority – UWA rangers and taken to Openy Jiji prison in Adjumani.
Kilak South MP, Gilbert Olanya in front of Openy Jiji Prison in Adjumani on Saturday 26th October 2019 - Courtesy Photo

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Residents of Apaa in Amuru district have accused security forces for arrests and illegal detention of innocent civilians.

13 people have been arrested in the past two weeks in separate incidents. On 25th October, nine people were arrested from Gazi village by Uganda Wildlife Authority – UWA rangers and taken to Openy Jiji prison in Adjumani.

On 12th October, four people were illegally arrested by Police from Apaa junction and were detained for a week at Apaa police outpost before they were transferred to the same prison.

Those arrested from Gazi: Andrew Nyeko, Fadele Ocan, Sunday Onencan, Callisto Opaa, Eryiot Odagiu, Emmanuel Nyononga, Samuel Masendi, Casteo Candiya and Cosmas Kasozi. While those arrested from Apaa junction were identified as; Simon Okumu, Denis Okwera, Ivan Okello and Ivan Abala. 

Patrick Okwonga, a resident of Acholiber village says that several residents are suffering silently in the hands of the security forces. He added that several grass-thatched houses were also torched in the area.

According to Opok Acoma, an LCI official, seven armed men dressed in uniforms belonging to Field Force Police Unit – FFPU; UWA and Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF raided Gazi market on 24th October.

Acoma says that the security personnel destroyed all the Gazi market kiosks; fire several rounds of live bullets before arresting a juvenile and a boat rider adding the whereabouts of the two people remains unknown. 

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Acoma also revealed that two men speaking Madi language armed with spears, bows and arrows stormed Lutoya village 12th October and plundered food items sparking community rage that led to the arrest of four residents.

Amuru LCV  Chairperson, Michael Lakony expressed disappointment over the violence meted on the people of Apaa despite assurance of no disturbance by Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah who is leading the new committee investigating Apaa land dispute.

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Josephine Angucia, the West Nile Region Police Spokesperson confirmed some Apaa residents were arrested. She, however, declined to divulge particulars of the suspects saying she had not yet received a full report from Adjumani Police Commander.

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Meanwhile, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya who paid a visit to the Openy Jiji prison says that the detainees are complaining of poor feeding and alleged torture.

“Our people in Apaa are not well. UWA, UPDF and Police are continuously terrorizing, arresting and torturing our people. I don’t see any goodwill for the community living in Apaa as Government is playing double standards in the matter.” Olanya disclosed.

Located in Apaa village, Labala parish, Pabbo Sub County in Amuru district, conflicts over the land relate to its ownership, economic land use for settlement or wildlife conservation and geographical boundaries.

The 827 Square kilometres of disputed land started in 2012 when Adjumani district council gazetted the area as East Madi Game Reserve.

Amuru leaders claim that 18 people have died following protracted conflicts between Acholi and Madi communities characterized by deadly attacks using machetes, bows and arrows, burning of grass thatched houses displacing hundreds of residents.