Refugees in fear after arrest of four over illegal possession of firearms.

A warning ribbon commonly spread along a crime scene. Picture source, Google

Some scores of urban South Sudanese refugees living in Adjumani town council in Adjumani district of Uganda are in panic following the arrest of four of their colleagues for illegal possession of firearms and military attire.

The suspects identified as Lagu Jabakan, who is the deputy for Lopirigo cultural chief of the Ethnic Madi clan, alongside his brothers Francis Alimasi and Paul were picked up from the huts in Biyaya suburb. The fourth suspect is identified as Gama Jaligo, a resident from Molukpoda, a suburb also within the outskirt of Adjumani town council.

Rose Lagu, the wife to Lagu Jabakan says a group of police officers summing up to fifteen (15) raided their home at around 10:00pm (East African Time) and besieged it until 1:00am

According to Rose, the officers kicked the door and banged windows to force them to open.

“When I finally opened the door, they dragged out my husband and later forced me to sit beside him. When I resisted one of the officers whom I recall well slapped me in the face several times causing a blackout in my eyes,” Rose narrates

She said the officers told her to handover a firearm they were hiding in the house. She answered in the negative forcing the officers ransack the house.

A copy of the search certificate dated August 23, 2019  seen by our reporter indicates that no firearm was recovered apart from a pair of military uniform, two pairs of shocks, national identity cards of Uganda and Southern Sudan and note books among other personal property.

The families of the four detained refugees are currently living in fear that they might have been harmed as efforts to trace them are fading.

The UPDF 4th division publicist, Maj. Telesphur wasn’t on ground when the incident transpired.

He however, said he was only aware of South Sudanese refugees who were arrested from Kitgum on allegation of recruiting refugees to join Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO, a faction loyal to former South Sudan vice president, Riek Machar.

The West Nile police spokesperson Josephine Angucia, said she wasn’t aware of the incident as she hasn’t been briefed by Adjumani DPC, Hasunira Ahmed. An official from Office of Prime Minister refugees’ desk office in Adjumani told journalists that the four suspects were transferred to Gulu barracks by officials from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence {CMI}. 

He advised the family members to call the office of Refugee Law Project for legal redress since they have been kept in custody beyond 48 hours as required by law.

The Adjumani Resident District Commissioner, Peter Taban Data said the four refugees are in safe custody.