The Uganda joint security forces have released and handed over six suspected Turkana cattle rustlers to the Turkana County, Kenya.
The exercise was led by UPDF deputy commander Division III, Brig Gen Felix Busizoori who handed over the suspects to his counterpart Peter Eripete the county secretary and head of public service, Turkana County.
Speaking at the handover exercise at Moroto army barracks, Busizoori said the Turkana suspects were arrested alongside their kinship, the native Matheniko in different cordon and search operations where they were engaged in cattle rustling in Karamoja Sub-region between Feb 20 to Feb 26, 2023.
“Following recent persistent security and diplomatic engagements between Ugandan and Kenyan authorities, we officially hand over six suspects in the gesture of EAC partnership as a sign of peaceful co-existence and brotherhood,” remarked Busizoori.
He urged the Turkana County government to penalise the suspects for abusing the peaceful co-existence and cross-border security arrangements.
“This diplomatic pardon should not be taken for granted as it may lead to impunity. Those who again be violating Ugandan laws will be arrested, arraigned before courts and charged for their offenses,” Busizoori warned.
He noted that the native eight Matheniko who were arrested alongside the Turkana will be subjected to Uganda’s Courts of law.
Speaking on the same occasion, Eripete the Turkana county secretary and head of public service expressed gratitude for Ugandan authorities.
“I thank the President of the Republic of Uganda, the people and joint security commanders for according Turkana pastoralists another chance to graze their animals in Ugandan territory.”
He noted that officials on either side of the border of the two sister countries continue to work together to find ending solutions on how best the Turkana pastoralists can live in harmony with their host communities in Uganda.
“I categorically, state that we are not allowing anybody to come and cause criminality in the host country, adding that once criminality is caused on whichever side of the border, that suspect is subjected to host country’s laws,” said Eripete.
The Karamojong and Turkana pastoralists have co-existed and shared water and pasture in the grazing belts in Uganda as guided and spelt out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two sister EAC countries.
However, some armed Turkana elements have reportedly continued to violate the much-desired MoU since they engage themselves in criminal and rustling activities in Uganda.