Security to vet foreigners in Gulu City – Monitor
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) 4th Division Commander, Brig Bonny Bamwiseki, has ordered security in Gulu City to conduct an immediate vetting and arrest of all foreign nationals and non-residents operating in the city.
Brig Bamwiseki’s orders follow a spate of vicious gun crimes in the city in recent months.
While speaking to the media in Gulu yesterday, Brig Bamwiseki said the army’s intelligence wing had credible information that the boda boda robberies and gun crimes in the city were being perpetrated by non-nationals whose identities were unknown.
His position contradicted police’s accounts that the crimes were being committed by criminal gangs that run cartels in the city.
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“The people who are stealing and robbing are these hawkers because we don’t know their identities, how can an Egyptian survive on selling a pair of slippers or saucepans in the city, do you see that one tangible? We now must make sure that we know all those who are within our city,” Brig Bamwiseki said.
He said the army recently repatriated a group of Egyptian nationals who lived in Gulu City illegally but were reportedly accessing every village selling saucepans.
“Those are the thieves and we should start with those. One time, we went to a lodge and found 30 people sleeping in one room. When we started arresting them, the stealing was reduced. They were even recruiting young children to cause instability in the city,” he said.
Mr Lambert Akena, the Gulu City deputy Speaker, said the illegal stay of foreign nationals had resulted in insecurity.
Mr Akena said there are reports of some South Sudanese students possessing ammunition. He called for a strong collaboration between the intelligence structures to ensure the security and safety of residents.
However, in his response, Mr Gilbert Okwir, the Gulu City deputy RCC, said they had written to the Internal Affairs ministry to seek support.
“We have put a requisition to the ministry demanding them to avail us with enforcement police of the Immigration Directorate. We are waiting for feedback from them and we will .. one at a time weed all the illegal entrants,” he said.
“When we get them, it is not just about telling them to go and process the permits, we will arrest and prosecute or repatriate them because illegal entry is criminal in itself,” Mr Okwir said.
The army also expressed worry over illegal relocation of South Sudanese nationals from refugee settlements to buy land and settle in the city illegally.
Sources told this newspaper last week that a report of several guns circulating among South Sudanese living among communities, was discussed.
On Monday night, the source said, 14 South Sudan nationals were arrested with ammunition in Palaro Sub-county in Gulu District while driving in a van towards Lamwo District.
Mr Francis Abbas, the Regional Intelligence Officer, confirmed the arrests but denied claims that they were armed.
“They were arrested yesterday in Palaro by police, on the ground, we had reports that they had guns and were bad people but we discovered that they were moving from Bweyale to Lamwo to go and get food cards, but later on, they were released and taken back to Bweyale.”
Mr Abbas said: “We have mounted a strong intelligence system on the ground with our counterparts in South Sudan to ensure that incidents of insecurity are quickly spotted and dealt with.”
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