Capt .George Michael Mukula, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Vice Chairman for Eastern Uganda and former Commander of the Arrow Boys, a fighter group that defeated the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony has advised Local leaders in the greater Masaka to closely coordinate with the Army and Police in forming village vigilante groups to curb insecurity in the region
Residents in greater Masaka consisting of Bukomansibi, Lwengo and Masaka districts have been spending sleepless nights following raids by machete-wielding thugs that have killed and injured many.
Renowned for Peace Building Strategies, Mukula, a former member of parliament for Soroti municipality says that while Government through its security establishments is commendably responding to the matter, it is prudent for the local council area leaders to help the Police and Army in not only giving supporting information but also establishment village vigilantes.
‘’Insecurity in Masaka can easily be eliminated by the local leadership organizing the local population using LC 1 chairpersons and secretaries for defense teams in collaboration with the police and army to set up local vigilantes. It worked in Teso with arrow boys’’, Mukula said.
The same call was reechoed by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Anita Among on Wednesday when she called for the creation of village vigilante groups to counter the murders in the Masaka region.
The Arrow Boys, a civilian defence forces Commanded by Mukula which played an instrumental role in routing the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army when rebels attacked Teso in eastern Uganda in 2003 Teso, offer an interesting example of how a local defence force can effectively be mobilized, in a genuine emergency, to protect its own community.
The unrelenting efforts of Arrow Boys that was formed to boost the efforts of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) led to the killing of Kony’s most trusted commanders such as Tabule, Opio Lapunyo, and Vincent Otti among others which eventually weakened the rebel leader until he fled to the Central African Republic.
The LRA was already notorious for killing and maiming civilians and abducting women and children as part of its insurgency in Uganda’s northern Acholi region since the late 1980s.
The local leaders concluded that the government security forces were erroneously considered Teso relatively peaceful, and the army was occupied fighting Kony in Acholi land.
When Kony led- LRA entered Teso, Captain Mike Mukula, a pilot and then health minister and MP for Soroti established a civilian force and worked closely with Musa Ecweru, then a regional district commissioner in Kasese in the west held by a desire to protect their homeland.
Mukula and Ecweru camped in Soroti Teso sub-region, where they met an old contact,John Eresu, then MP for Kaberamaido; and a collection of local politicians, administrators and church leaders to discuss what to do.
The group became known as the “Arrow Boys”, a name intended to emphasize their skills as a silent, determined force and would ultimately drive the LRA out of the region.
‘’They proved to Museveni that the group wasn’t a political power-play by local leaders but motivated to secure their motherland. Smooth-talking, politically respected Captain Mukula chaired the group, and helped reassure the government’’, quotes the International Crisis Group, an independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world.
It didn’t take long for Museveni to work out what needed to be done. He issued 7,000 rifles to the new Arrow Boys auxiliary force due to the trust and proven determination by the group commanders.
‘’The Arrow Boys were determined recruits, trusted by local communities who would willingly supply them with information on the terrain and the enemy’s whereabouts’’, said a source.
According to the Internal Affairs Minister Gen David Muhoozi, the thugs have hacked 26 people to death. In a report he tabled before parliament on Tuesday, General Muhoozi explained that there is heightened security in the region, which has led to the arrest of 11 suspects in connection to the attacks.
According to Article 50 of the Local Governments Act 1997 (amended in 2015), the village committee, which is headed by the village (LC1) chairperson, are expected to assist in the maintenance of law, order and security, as well as initiate, encourage, support and participate in self-help projects and mobilise people, material and technical assistance in relation to self-help projects.
The executive is also expected to vet and recommend persons in the area who should be recruited into the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda Prisons Service.
It is further expected to serve as the communication channel between the Government, the district or higher local council and the people in the area.