MARACHA. The State Minister for Internal Affairs has asked the police to investigate the presence of nomadic cattle keepers in West Nile region nearly a year after Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni directed that they must leave the region and return to their home districts.
During an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Mario Obiga Kania pledged to take action against the errant implementers of the directive, local leaders and residents who connived to hide the pastoralists also known as the Balalo.
His concern follows fresh complaints of the destruction of crops registered by farmers in the areas of Ocea parish in Rigbo sub-county, Odobu parish in Uriama sub-county, Suru village in Bileafe sub-county and Acaa valley in Rhino-camp sub-county, all in Arua district.
“It is criminal for anyone to defy a Presidential directive, a decision taken after full discussions in the Cabinet,” Kania stated.
President Museveni in a directive early last year, ordered security officials to monitor the evacuation of the nomadic pastoralists unless they buy land and fence it to graze their cattle.
But a section of locals have come out to claim that the pastoralists bribed some leaders and security organs implementing the famous “Operation Rudi Nyumbani,” a Kiswahili term meaning “return home” which was aimed at driving the cattle keepers away from the region.
Mr. Wilson Agele, the chairperson of Rigbo sub-county said the district has failed to act although they started reporting the destruction done by the cattle belonging to the remaining pastoralists in his sub-county.
Meanwhile the local council III chairperson of Rhino-camp sub-county, Mr. Gabriel Andima said the community became nervous when a large herd of cattle crossed from Rigbo sub-county to Acaa wetland, which acts as a catchment area for water for the locals in the Sub County.
He said they have no control over the animals devastating crops and vegetation in their common border with Bileafe sub-county because officials from Bileafe did the animals’ clearance.
But Bileafe Sub-county chairperson, Mr. Geoffrey Olema denied the allegations of receiving inducements from the herdsmen to clear their movement in the area.
The minister, however, appealed to the locals to give information about the dubious deals which hindered the effective implementation of the Presidential directive so that action is taken against the errant officers and the local leaders.