A recent clash between Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) enforcement officers and residents in Madi Okollo District has triggered outrage and prompted President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to call for an independent investigation.
The incident, involving UPDF soldiers attached to the URA enforcement team, resulted in one fatality and left four others injured.
Reports suggest that URA officers, in the process of impounding unregistered motorcycles, faced resistance from locals, leading to a confrontation where shots were fired.
Tragically, Moses Atria lost his life due to a gunshot injury at Nebbi General Hospital, while Patience Atizuyo, Derick Opari, and Jovan sustained injuries during the violent encounter.
President Museveni responded to concerns raised by West Nile sub-region leaders regarding what they perceive as excessive and lethal use of force by URA enforcement teams on unarmed civilians.
Joanne Aniku, the Madi Okollo district Woman Member of Parliament, disclosed that the President appointed Susan Kasingye, the Commissioner of Police, to conduct an independent investigation parallel to ongoing probes by law enforcement agencies.
However, eyewitness accounts present a conflicting narrative. Patrick Atiku, the Ogoko Subcounty councilor, alleged that URA officials faced no resistance during the impoundment process but suddenly began firing shots indiscriminately, injuring innocent bystanders, including two barbers and a young girl not involved in the resistance.
Atiku himself claimed to have narrowly escaped being targeted by the enforcers and accused them of firing at him. The injured were rushed to Nebbi Hospital for treatment as tensions soared in the aftermath of the incident.
This is not the first time clashes have occurred between URA enforcers and civilians. Previous altercations in November resulted in a fatality and critical injuries, sparking public outrage and confrontations.
Locals in the region have accused URA officers of being trigger-happy when dealing with suspected smugglers, raising questions about accountability and justice for these incidents.
As investigations unfold, Swaib Toko, the Madi Okollo Resident District Commissioner, has urged cooperation from residents and emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflicts between URA enforcement officers and the community.
However, the incident has exacerbated existing tensions, drawing attention to the pressing need for accountability and a comprehensive resolution to prevent further escalations.