Kony war victims camp at Arua State Lodge in demand for compensation
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
ARUA. There was drama at State Lodge Arua on Thursday when over 200 Kony war victims beat President Museveni’s ever alert security hands down before storming his home and camp at the entrance for two good hours.
The victims of Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army (LRA) war took security by surprise when they surfaced at the State Lodge in Arua City carrying banners and placards encrypted with various compensation messages.
Security operatives who didn’t detect the week-long mobilization of the war victims to storm the President’s home later showed up in an attempt to arrest the situation, an hour later.
It took the UPDF and police officers who rushed to the scene on foot and in two patrol vehicles another one more hour to convince the victims who had gathered at the President’s residence at exactly 2:30pm to finally leave the place at 4:30pm.
The protesters are part of the 1, 102 aggrieved victims demanding for shs99,884,000,000 in compensation for the merchandise, money and lives lost during the 20-year insurgency along Karuma – Pakwach highway in between 1988 to 2000.
Speaking to journalists at Arua State Lodge gate, Alex Matua, the chairperson of the victims said they have waited for over 25 years to be compensated by government but all in vain.
“In June I went to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence to clear the information of CMI from Mbuya so that they can pay us. From there, for four months I have been in Mbuya but on Monday, that is when they told me that they can’t do anything yet President Museveni had given them directives to pay us. The President directed Dr. Kenneth Omona to write to Attorney General to pay us,” Matua said.
“Hon. Anita Among, the Speaker of Parliament also wrote to Attorney General to pay us and give her the information, the letters are all here. So, they chased me out of office from Mbuya Military Headquarters on Monday that I should go back and bring the dead bodies I’m claiming Kony killed in the National Park. Can you imagine! Are we not part of Uganda, didn’t Kony kill us, why are they paying other regions and deny us what we are rightly demanding from the government?” Matua asked.
According to Matua, out of the 1,102 Kony war claimants in West Nile, so far 96 have died without being compensated by the government of NRM.
“We have come here because we want President Museveni to help us now. He has given directives to Attorney General to pay us, now Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence and Veteran’s Affairs has blocked us. Is he above the President? So, we want the President to address our issue, that is all and if he doesn’t do so, we are going back to Court, I have already talked to our Lawyer,” Matua said.
When contacted, Samuel Ondoma of Alaka and Co. Advocates, the Lawyer representing the Arua Kony war victims said his clients are now tired.
“That is why they stormed the President’s home today; they are annoyed, they are tired, they are hungry and they wanted to meet the President because they have no money, they can’t now go to Kampala and they have no powers to direct the compensation to be effected to them. So, our people got tired and they had to match to assemble at the President’s office in Arua because they said they wanted to ask the President why is he not paying them?” Ondoma said.
“Don’t they want to pay the people of West Nile who suffered in the hands of Kony. It is common knowledge that so many people suffered. Our brothers and sisters from Gulu were paid, our brothers and sisters from Lira were paid, our brothers and sisters from Teso region were paid. Why is it that the people of West Nile are not paid? Why are they not receiving their compensation, are they not Ugandans? So, they feel discriminated and they wanted to ask the President and that is why they assembled there today,” Ondoma emphasized.
Ondoma acknowledged that before taking legal action against the government if his clients are not compensated this time round, the next immediate course of action will be for them to match to Kampala to physically meet the President at State House Nakasero.
“Those who will board bus will board to go there but those who will not board will foot up to State House Nakasero to meet the President in protest,” Ondoma assured the public.
Rashid Alahayi Ciriga, one of the Kony war victims from Yumbe district who was shot in both arms on October 3, 1997 said he joined his colleagues in camping at President Museveni’s residence in Arua so that he can be able to see their suffering for all these years without compensation.