By Jeff Andrew Lule
Odonga Otto, a former Aruu County MP, and a group of vigilantes, are being sought by the territorial police in Aswa and Pader districts after they were allegedly seen on camera beating three victims.
The victims were identified as Charles Ssemanda, Yusuf Wagwana and Erisata Takafa.
On April 30, 2023, at around 3:30pm, the victims are alleged to have been on their way to buy charcoal in one of the homesteads in Laorogali village, Atanga sub-county, in Pader district when they were intercepted by the group. The victims had placed 12 bags of charcoal into their Fuso truck, Reg No. UBA 600B
On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at the weekly joint security briefing held at the police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala, Fred Enanga, the police force’s spokesperson, claimed that the vigilantes attacked the victims with sticks and pangas and allegedly robbed Ssemanda of cash worth sh1,097,700.
“They also vandalised the Fuso truck and stole two motor vehicle batteries, a motor vehicle radio, woofer, motor vehicle key and tarpline. The attackers further damaged the wind screen, the fuel tank and tyres of the Fuso truck,” Enanga said.
The victims allegedly reported the incident to the Atanga Police Station after their release. Enanga stated that there is an intense and ongoing quest for Otto and everyone else involved in the caning and beating torture.
Enanga emphasised that along the Lapul-Atanga route in the Atanga sub-county, a man named Charles Olara Okello had also been attacked earlier by a group when he was found buying firewood in his car with the license plate UAP 516D, along Lapul- Atanga road in Atanga sub-county.
According to reports, the assailants also stole their phones and other personal property.
Enanga stated the case was reported at Pajule Police Station.
“Although Otto and his vigilantes claim they are an advocacy group, that is enforcing a ban on commercial trade of charcoal in Acholi Sub-region, their level of physical interaction is not just reckless and dangerous, but can lead to hate crimes in society. We wish to remind the public that torture, through the use of corporal punishment or any other form of physical assault, are punishable by law,” he noted.
Enanga further urged the former lawmaker to avoid taking the law into his hands and misleading other members of the public, into acts of lawlessness and impunity.
He said the Joint Security Agencies would continue to investigate all instances of torture and would make sure that those involved were found and brought to justice.