NEBBI. The Nebbi district councillor representing Erussi sub-county Mr Brown Choothum was on Friday arrested and detained at Nebbi central police station (CPS) for allegedly hijacking cattle meant for beneficiaries under the government restocking program.
It is alleged that on the 6th of Jan 2020, Mr Choothum laid a trap at Adiara junction as the cattle were being transported to Erussi sub-county headquarters and intercepted eight of the animals meant for beneficiaries who earlier failed to make it to Nyaravur to receive them.
Dr William Abedkane, the Nebbi district veterinary officer said the councillor incepted the lorry in which the cattle were in and forcefully distributed them to his own beneficiaries claiming that it was government property and anyone could benefit from it.
“We got information from some beneficiaries who had not received their cows that the councillor intercepted the eight heads of zebu heifers and started to randomly distribute the cows to non-registered beneficiaries, saying the animals were government property meant to benefit everyone,” Dr Abedkane confirmed.
According to the OC CID Nebbi CPS Mr Nicholas Natajja, after the interception, the councillor was advised to take back the animals but he remained adamant, a reason he was arrested to help police in investigations.
Mr Natajja said Choothum later accepted that he knew the where-bouts of the animals and all the eight cows were recovered over the weekend and handed over to the rightful beneficiaries.
“Following numerous complaints from the registered beneficiaries who had not received their animals, we had no option but to only arrest the councillor to help in the recovery process,” Mr Natajja said.
Nebbi district chairperson Mr Emmanuel Orombi who confirmed the incident said they had reports that two of the animals were sold to non-beneficiaries by the councillor.
He also confirmed that they rejected attempts by Mr Choothum’s father to repay for the hijacked animals because all they wanted was the animals but not money.
Through what he called ‘reliable sources’, it was discovered that the councillor had solicited some money from members of the community in exchange for the animals.
Mr. Christopher Omara, the Nebbi Resident District Commissioner (RDC) on his part said his office will not tolerate such leaders who are working to sabotage government programs for selfish gains.
“Such dubious act by the councillor is unacceptable, we shall do all that we can to see that such leaders are dealt with in accordance with the law in order to see sanity,” Omara warned.
However, after securing a police bond on Sunday, Choothum defended his action, saying the choice of the beneficiaries was not right to him because the real rural poor were left out of the program.
He also denied the allegation of soliciting money from his voters whom he instead termed as the actual people supposed to benefit from the program.