Witch-hunt or manhunt? Police issues arrest warrant for former MP Odonga Otoo over anti-charcoal trade vigilante group
- May 3, 2023
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By Our Reporter
Kampala – Uganda Police Force in the Aswa territorial region and Pader district, has commenced a serious manhunt for the former Aruu County legislator Samuel Odonga Otto and a group of vigilantes, who were armed with pangas and sticks after they were captured on video viciously flogging three victims, who are alleged to be charcoal dealers, in one of the homesteads in Laorogali village, Atanga sub-county, in Pader district on 30th April 2023 at around 3:30pm.
The three victims include; Ssemanda Charles, Wagwana Yusuf and Takafa Erisata who had loaded 12 bags of charcoal in their Fuso truck registration number UBA 600B.
The group allegedly assaulted them using sticks and pangas, and allegedly robbed cash Shs1,097,700 (One million ninety seven thousand, seven hundred shillings) only from Ssemanda Charles.
They also allegedly vandalised the Fuso truck and stole two motor vehicle batteries, a motor vehicle radio, woofer, motor vehicle key and tarpaulin. The attackers further damaged the wind screen, the fuel tank and tyres of the Fuso truck.
The victims were later released and they reported the matter at Atanga police station. A serious manhunt for the Odonga Otto and all those who participated in the torture by caning is active and ongoing.
In a statement released on Wednesday, by the Uganda Police spokesperson, SCP Fred Enanga, the same group had earlier attacked a one Olara Charles Okello, after he was found buying firewood while in his motor vehicle registration number UAP 516D, along Lapul- Atanga road in Atanga sub-county.
The attackers allegedly robbed their phones and other belongings. They reported the matter at Pajule police station. Although Odonga Otto and his vigilantes, claim they are an advocacy group, that is enforcing a ban on commercial trade in Acholi sub-region, their level of physical interaction is not only reckless and dangerous, but can lead to hate crimes in society, according to Enanga.
According to Enanga, police wish to remind the public that torture, through the use of corporal punishment or any other form of physical assault, are punishable by law. “We therefore, urge the former lawmaker to avoid taking the law in his hands and misleading other members of the public, into acts of lawlessness and impunity,” the statement reads in part.
He confirmed that, police together with sister security agencies, remain committed to pursuing all incidents of torture and will ensure that all perpetrators responsible are identified and charged to court.
However, it should be noted that on 18th April 2023, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) issued a notice about the ban on commercial charcoal trade in Uganda.
“NEMA has not issued any ESIA certificate for commercial charcoal production and therefore commercial charcoal production across the country is illegal, ” the statement reads in part. Below is the full statement.