At least 16 community members in Agoro sub-county in Lamwo district have been named for suspected illegal possession of guns and trading in guns. The suspects were implicated in a security meeting convened on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Geoffrey Osborn Oceng, who is the Agago Resident District Commissioner, said that Richard Ocira Amooti, who is the leader of the business community in Agoro, should be arrested because he allegedly trades in guns.
The meeting followed an incident on October 11, 2022, in which 58-year-old Patrick Opala was shot dead at around 8 a.m. while working in his garden. On October 12, 2022, three suspects were caught because of the investigations. One of them was Bob Marley, who was the LC-I Chairperson of Irumu village.
Bob Marley is said to have shot his ex-wife the day before she was set to marry another man about three years ago. He was recently released because no one was bold enough to testify against him. Oceng said the chairperson, who is under police custody, is suspected to be in possession of two firearms, which are said to be hidden in Agoro hills.
There have been reports that some of the security personnel are dealing in firearms. Oceng acknowledged receiving the complaint, saying they would verify the reports.
To reduce the influx of guns in Agoro, Oceng said they will do regular sensitization of the community about the dangers of illegally keeping guns twice a month. He has also tasked the LC-I leaders in Agoro to register all the residents in their jurisdiction by Friday this week, to help them know who is who.
Oceng said that the security committee in Lamwo will meet with the governor of Ikwotos County in South Sudan next week. They will talk about how to stop the gun trade and crimes that people from South Sudan are allegedly doing.
Peter Fred Erwondo, the Agoro Sub-County LCV V councilor, said illegal possession of and trade in guns started in the sub-county in the past six years. Erwondo identified Ngacino and Lopulingi parishes as the areas most affected by illegal guns.
According to Erwondo, illegal gun traders buy guns from Nimule and sell them to South Sudan or within Uganda to the wrong elements, mainly cattle rustlers. He said some buyers come from as far as Bweyale in Kiryandongo district and Orom in Kitgum to buy guns from Agoro.
The Lamwo district LC V chairperson, Sisto Ocen Oyet, said that the location makes it hard to stop illegal gun sales because people with guns can hide in either South Sudan or Uganda, depending on where they did something wrong.
The Lamwo District OC CID asked the community to help investigators and give them information that would help bring the suspects to justice.
According to Ayakaka, the suspects arrested two weeks ago are still in police custody because no one is coming out to testify against them. “The problem is that those who have information are refusing to testify, but they know that if you have information about a suspect and you refuse to testify, you become an accomplice,” Kalsum said.
During the meeting, the suspects, who are still at large, were given until Friday this week to surrender their guns to the authorities and be forgiven, or face a military court martial. In Uganda, it is illegal to have a gun without a valid license. This is against sections 3 (1), 2 (a), and 2 (b) of Uganda’s Fire Arms Act 299 and can get you up to ten years in prison.