The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) 3rd Division Court Martial (DCM) that sat at the Division Headquarters in Moroto on 14th – 15th September 2020, sentenced Mr. Loiki Apanaile and Mr. Lokure Achon to nine years’ imprisonment 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 DCM chaired by Col Bernard Tugume that on 19th July 2020, a UPDF cordon and search operation force found Mr. Loiki Apanaile of Napong parish, Rengen sub-county in Kotido district, in possession of a submachine gun number 29807 with 02 rounds of live bullets without a firearms permit.
Similarly, Mr. Lokure Achon, aged 26 years, a resident of Panyangara parish, Panyangara sub-county in Kotido district, was captured alive in a UPDF ambush on 22nd August 2020, while he was on a raid mission at Nadome village, Rekitae parish, Panyangara sub-county in Kotido district. He was arrested while in possession of a submachine gun number 56-2912486 with 18 rounds of live bullets without a firearms permit.
While sentencing the convicts, Col Bernard 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 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,” said Col Tugume, adding that, “You are therefore sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment in any government prison. This, we hope, will send a warning message to those still with illicit firearms.”
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 2nd October 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.