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Home > News > Charcoal Burning: Odonga Otto Wanted Over Aggravated Torture, Robbery In Pader

Charcoal Burning: Odonga Otto Wanted Over Aggravated Torture, Robbery In Pader

Former Aruu County Legislator Samuel Odonga Otto/ Coutesy Photo

The Police in Aswa River Region are hunting for former Aruu County Member of Parliament turned environmental activist Samuel Odonga Otto over allegations of aggravated torture and robbery.

Odonga Otto and a group of environmental vigilantes are accused of beating and severely injuring three businessmen dealing in charcoal in Atanga sub-county, in Pader district on Sunday afternoon. They were reportedly armed with sticks and machetes.

Police identified victims of the purported attack as Charles Ssemanda, Yusuf Wagwana, and Takafa Erisata who sustained severe body injuries.

According to Police reports, the suspects still at large also robbed 1.1 Million shillings from one of the victims identified as Ssemanda before vandalizing a Fuso Truck registration UBA 600B during the attack.

Pader District Police Commander Abraham Tukundane toldour reporter on Wednesday that the victims reported a case of assault and robbery at Atanga Police Station shortly after the incident. Tukundane notes that the victims were assaulted by the perpetrators who later posted the video online.

“There are videos circulating on social media that show the suspects assaulting their victims. They were badly beaten and were rushed for medical treatment in Pader,” says Tukundane.

He says Police have since retrieved the vehicle which was badly damaged by the suspects and taken it for safe custody at Atanga Police Station pending investigation into the torture and robbery allegations.

According to police, the suspects are alleged to have stolen two motor vehicle batteries, a motor vehicle radio, a woofer, a motor vehicle key, and a tarpaulin from the Fuso truck before damaging its windscreen, fuel tank and tires.

Tukundane notes that Police are now hunting for Odonga Otto and his accomplices so that they face the allegations brought against them in court.

The suspects are also separately accused of earlier attacking another victim, Charles Olara Okello who was found buying firewood while in his motor vehicle registration number UAP 516D, along Lapul- Atanga road in Atanga sub-county.

Otto received a warning early last month from the police after embarking on a campaign against the illegal charcoal trade in Acholi Sub-region following a ban on the commercial production, and trade of Charcoal by the Environment Ministry.

Together with his vigilantes under Ribbe Pi Paco (RPP), an environmental youth advocacy and activism group, the former legislator combed charcoal hotspots in Acholi where they destroyed charcoal camps, and logs and intercepted charcoal trucks.

Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga however in a statement Wednesday says the suspect’s level of physical interaction is not only reckless and dangerous but can lead to hate crimes in society.

“We wish to remind the public that torture, through the use of corporal punishment or any other form of physical assault, is punishable by law. We, therefore, urge the former lawmaker to avoid taking the law in his hands and misleading other members of the public, into acts of lawlessness and impunity,” The statement reads.

In a Tweet on Wednesday on his Official Twitter account, Otto denied the allegations arguing that he has been out of Acholi Sub region for the past two weeks. “Let the records be straight the last two weeks and on the days of the alleged offences I have been in Kampala. We will lawfully win the fight for our environment,” he tweeted. Otto however says he will appear voluntarily to the Police.

The Environment Ministry early this year banned district officials in Acholi Sub-region from issuing documents that facilitate commercial production, and trade in charcoal in a move aimed at conserving the environment.

Local leaders in the region however accused the police and environmental enforcement authorities of frustrating the ban prompting campaigns to intercept charcoal trucks in transit.

Last month, the police in Gulu City arrested Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South legislator in Amuru District over allegations of inciting locals to intercept and loot charcoal from a truck plying through Gulu City from Amuru district.


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