Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF is to embark on a forceful disarmament exercise to in Northern Uganda effective next month.
Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF is to embark on a forceful disarmament exercise to in Northern Uganda effective next month. Col Innocent Oula, 4th division army commander says that they have given all people with illegal firearms a grace period of one month until May 05 to surrender them to the army before they embark on forceful disarmament. He appeals to people under the areas of the jurisdiction of his division such as Gulu, Oyam, Amuru, Nwoya and Adjumani to hand over all guns in their possession.
He says that those willing to surrender guns are other military hardware should give them to local leaders such as LCs, religious and cultural leaders or deposit them at any police post. He explains that under the grace period people wouldn’t be tasked to explain how they got the firearms, adding that once the May 05th deadline elapses anyone found with weapons will be prosecuted accordingly.
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Oula dismisses claims that the exercise is meant to clamp down on opposition politicians saying they have records of high ranking personalities serving in government who they also require to hand over the guns in their possession. He says that most of the people with the fire arms right are among those who signed for them during the height of the LRA rebel insurgency but have not returned them. He says others bought their guns as part of the arms trafficking aided by the porous border with neighboring countries.
The campaign to recover illegal guns in Gulu has been ongoing for the last 4 years. During his reign as LC5 chairman, Norbert Mao and RDC, late Walter Ochora promised to give farm implement to whoever returned a gun in his possession. However, the pleas appear to have yielded little in any prompting the army to announce the forceful disarmament.
Oula says that the weapons could fuel future conflicts if left in hands of civilians. Martin Amoru, Northern Uganda Regional Police Commander says government is in the process of marking all the guns adding that even those who rightfully acquired the arms should first hand them back for proper registration.
The decision by government to withdraw the guns has been welcomed by residents. Moses Omara, a bodaboda motorist says that he does not operate beyond 8pm because his colleague was gunned down last year. He says that recovering illegal guns would go a long way in ensuring security in the region.
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