Omoro: Police Haunts Locals; Brutality and Cash Extortion Is the Order Of The Day
By BLESSING NIMARO CHRISTINE
OMORO. To Mr Richard Ekwe, 35, the year 2016, is still fresh in his mind. It’s the year that police officer attached to Opit Police post, Lakwana Sub County in Omoro District sprayed him with a pepper spray following a forceful arrest.
Although he looks normal and energetic, Mr Ekwe, a father of six suffers a sight defect that has left him unable to fend for his family adequately.
Up to date the pepper spray effects have remained a challenge to his sight.
Mr Ekwe, a resident of Rwot – Omiya Village in Lakwana Sub County was beaten from Opit Police Post, where he was detained after being found riding a bicycle at 10:00 O’clock. He was coming from Aboke Sub County in Oyam district where he had gone for the burial.
He says his plea to the police officers at the time that he was moving in the night because he was from a burial landed on deaf ears.
“I explained myself and gave my National Identification to my captors, but I was not helped and to date I still suffer the effects of police action,” he said.
In his entire life, it’s only through farming that he is able to have the basics for his family but since the pain inflicted on him in 2016 by police, the effects are still affecting his productivity up to date,” he said.
He says after several days in the police custody without any charge he was left to go with the injuries that were inflicted on him.
“I went back to the very police station where I was beaten and sprayed with pepper in the eyes, but I was not helped. The officers on duty rubbished my complaints and to date justice has never prevailed,” he said.
As the locals in the district started questioning the police’ inhuman mistreatment to the people it’s meant to protect, more mayhem is still being experienced in the district.
Late last month, Police again used live bullets to disperse the crowd that had gathered for weekend at Opit trading centre in Lakwana Sub County.
The police officers dispersed the crowds with live bullets that ended up destroying several properties of the revelers worth millions of shillings.
The police accused the locals of partying up to 10:00pm.
The LC III Chairperson Lakwana Sub County, Milton Munu, told Northern Era that the locals have already raised red flags against police.
“We have endured the mistreatment of police for long hoping that there might be changes but nothing up to today. Several security meetings have been held without positive results seen on the ground,” he said
At police, cash extortion are the order of the day and there is nowhere to report such officials thus making our people vulnerable when it comes to seeking justice, Mr Munu said.
LCV Councilor Lakwana Sub County also Speaker to the district Damasco Odongo, said police has turned a nightmare to the people it’s meant to protect.
“If there are no changes being made we shall mobilize our people and demonstrate against the police mistreatment to the masses,”Mr Odongo said.
He added that the locals have lost trust in the police and as leaders they are concerned that there is no rule of law in the district at all.
Mr Peter Douglas Okello, LCV Chairperson Omoro district said it has been long overdue adding that there is need to have an overhaul of the police in the district.
“We cannot tolerate the inhuman behaviors by police against innocent civilians. The police leadership in Omoro has no control and command completely and it has been a long standing issue; we hoped for the change after several engagements but there was no change and the situation is instead getting out of hands,” he said
He added that there are many cases of extortion of cash from people by police officers, delays of suspects in police custody and, police brutality, uncoordinated activities of police in the district that has resulted into total mistrust.
Resident District Commissioner Omoro who also, doubles as head of security in the district, Afrikano Akarikundi, said police was doing its job of dealing with individuals who are indiscipline.
“Locals have not lost trust in police as its alleged, police is instead doubling its efforts in the fight against criminality and alcoholism that is becoming a threat to security,” he said
On the recent incident that some police officers fired live bullets, RDC Akarikundi said the police officers acted in self-defense after some group of locals had plans of attacking the men in uniform who were on police patrol.
Awa region Police PRO Jimmy Patrick Okema, said investigations are still underway following the allegations against police.
“So far cash extortion from the locals has been confirmed and statements are still being got from those whose money was taken by the officers.” he said.
Mr Okema, however said as police they do not entertain such behaviors of getting cash from the people since their services are free.
“Whoever will be found guilty, will be punished by the law,” he said.
Mr Okema added that they have held dialogue between police and the political wing on how best peace can return in the district.
In 2011, former Forum for Democratic Change,(FDC) Party President Dr Kizza Besigye’s eyes were sprayed with pepper by police and he was left half blind.
The operation was headed by one Gilbert Bwana Arinaitwe, a man said to be a CID officer attached to the Kireka-headquartered Rapid Response Unit by then.
Dr Besigye was airlifted to Nairobi Hospital for further treatment.