By Andrew Irumba
Two Congolese militiamen who were arrested on Lake Albert, in Kikuube district last week, were on Sunday handed over by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Marine and other sister security agencies to authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The team of Ugandan security officials which was led by Hoima Deputy Resident District Commissioner (DRDC) Richard Tabaro, handed over the militiamen identified as Warom Odaga and Enock Chombe, at Kaiso landing site in Tonya parish, Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district.
Other officials present included the District Internal Security officers-DISOs of Hoima and Kikuube, UPDF Marine Officers, the Albertine Regional Police Crime Intelligence, Immigration officials, local leaders and fishermen.
Tabaro said “We decided to hand over the militiamen who were apprehended by Ugandan fishermen at Nkondo landing site in Kabwoya sub-county in Kikuube district Last week, following a request by Congolese government Authorities.”
He explained that “The Governor of Ituri province contacted us, requesting that the two militiamen be handed over to DRC authorities for appropriate action back home.”
Tabaro said they handed over the militiamen with a stern warning that there would be no more armed attacks on Lake Albert waters against Ugandan fishermen will be entertained.
The operation to arrest the two was launched after several Ugandan fishermen being kidnapped for ransom and others killed by gangs of armed men who usually take the hostages to DR. Congo.
In November 2018, armed militiamen raided the Lake Albert waters near Kaiso landing site in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district killing seven fishermen before taking off with their fishing gear including boats, nets, hooks and boat Engines among others.
The endless attacks attracted the attention of the Chief of Defense Forces-CDF, General David Muhoozi who rushed to Kaiso landing site on a fact finding mission. He met some of the affected fishermen and pledged total security on the lake but to date, the attacks have persisted, although operations by UPDF marine and fishermen have led to the arrest of some attackers, like the ones that were repatriated.
However, Mark Uzelle, the Liaison Officer from the Cabinet of the Ituri province who led the Congolese delegation that received the militiamen applauded Ugandan security authorities for the cooperation they have shown to the DRC government. Uzelle urged for continuous dialogue between the two countries in case any misunderstanding.
Attacks on Ugandan fishermen by Congolese militiamen are rampant on Lake Albert waters. Dozens of Ugandan fishermen have lost their fishing gear including boats, fishing nets, boat engines, hooks and money to the militiamen in the past two years.