Those who have persisted in possessing illicit firearms in the Karamoja sub-region are a danger to the people and obstruct development in the region.
KARAMOJA - The Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces (UPDF) 3rd Division Court Martial has sentenced two Karimojong men to nine years each imprisonment over illegal possession of firearms.
The court, which sat at the Division Headquarters in Moroto on September 14 - 15, 2020, sentenced Loiki Apanaile and Lokure Achon to nine years in prison for being in possession of firearms without licenses, contrary to section 3 (1), (2), (a) and (b) of Uganda's Firearms Act Cap 299.
Prosecution led by Lt. Hamza Hirya told the court chaired by Col. Bernard Tugume that on July 19, 2020, a UPDF cordon and search operation force found Apanaile of Napong parish, Rengen sub-county in Kotido district, in possession of a submachine gun number 29807 with two rounds of live bullets without a firearms permit.
On the other hand, Achon, aged 26 years, a resident of Panyangara parish, Panyangara sub-county in Kotido district, was captured in a UPDF ambush on August 22, 2020.
At the time of his arrest, Achon is said to have been on a raid mission at Nadome village, Rekitae parish, Panyangara sub-county in Kotido district.
Achon was arrested while in possession of a submachine gun number 56-2912486 with 18 rounds of live bullets without a firearms permit, according to the UPDF deputy spokesperson, Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki.
While sentencing the convicts, Col. Tugume said that the charge was grave in nature because the recovered weapons could have been part of those used to conduct illegal activities leading to not only loss of innocent lives in Karamoja sub-region and its neighbourhood, but also loss of community livelihoods.
"Those who have persisted in possessing illicit firearms in the Karamoja sub-region are not only a danger to the people but also obstruct the opportunities for the sub-region to develop. They are the enemies of the people," Col. Tugume was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Akiiki.
Col. Tugume added; "You are therefore sentenced to nine years imprisonment in any government prison. This, we hope, will send a warning message to those still with illicit firearms."
AWOL officer given one year
Meanwhile, the same court sentenced Pte Kato Rajab to one-year in detention at a military cell after finding him guilty of being Absent Without Leave (AWOL) contrary to section 148 (1), (2) (b) of the UPDF Act No 7 of 2005. The accused overstayed his leave by over a month without bothering to officially extend the leave time.
The court adjourned to October 2, 2020, when it will be expected to handle more cases of unlawful possession of firearms among other charges.
Since the start of the second phase of disarmament in November 2004, the UPDF 3rd Division Court Martial has concluded over 500 cases of unlawful possession of firearms by civilians in Karamoja.