In Summary
  • When Abor headed for the house following the argument, the wife did not wait for any other warning. She ran as fast her legs would carry her and had it not been the distance she had created when Abor took the aim, she would have been killed by the gunfire he let loose. The wife fled to her parents’ home
  • At that time, the officer-in-charge of criminal investigations at Kaberamaido Police Station took a stroll in the market to get a feel of developments

When Milton Obote’s Uganda National Liberation Front lost power to Tito Okello’s military junta in 1985, a section of professional soldiers from Teso sub-region went home. They were later to regroup and form the Uganda People’s Army (UPA) and stage a rebellion against the new government between 1985 and 1992.

UPA was mainly composed of Iteso from Soroti and Kumi districts. This group of battle-hardened former UNLA soldiers, many of whom had served in the Special Forces, an elite group that repulsed Museveni’s guerillas from Luweero to Kasese, was led by Peter Otai.
The battles fought between the NRA and UPA left a trail of violence and it took gross brutality, including the Mukura incident in which 70 men were incinerated in a train wagon, to put a stop to it. An agreement was signed with the aid of what was called the Teso Commission in 1992.

After the guns finally fell silent, it was time for the remnants to go home. Among them was a detective only remembered as Abor. Abor went home with his guns that he would later use to terrorise the areas of Kaberamaido.

Brutality
Abor gained notoriety for his ruthlessness, sparing nothing that challenged him. He always settled his scores with the gun and the gun earned him bread. He was acclaimed to be the most ruthless person around Bululu market. Whoever dared talk about him had to make sure what he said would never get to Abor or else he would face the full force of the former’s “justice system”.
Not even the mother of his two daughters was spared the wrath of the gun. When Abor’s wife tried to question his drinking and womanising ways, she nearly paid with her life.

When Abor headed for the house following the argument, the wife did not wait for any other warning. She ran as fast her legs would carry her and had it not been the distance she had created when Abor took the aim, she would have been killed by the gunfire he let loose. The wife fled to her parents’ home.

She, like many of Abor’s victims, reported a case at Kaberamaido Police Station but it was never followed up. “Police had received similar cases but nobody dared to arrest Abor. Everybody, including policemen, feared him for his ruthlessness. When I was posted to Kaberamaido and got to know about his stories, I knew my work was cut out,” says a detective.
One market day in Bululu, Kaberamaido, with the mid-day sun shining brightly, shoppers and traders were taking shelter under their umbrellas.

The market was busy with selling and buying of foodstuffs, clothes and chicken in progress. Essential products such as soap and salt, lined several stalls.

At that time, the officer-in-charge of criminal investigations at Kaberamaido Police Station took a stroll in the market to get a feel of developments.

His mission was to gather any possible intelligence to help him solve the crime problem in the area. Market people stole glances at each other while others talked in hushed tones.

The OC kept greeting both vendors and buyers as he moved around the market until his attention was drawn to an elderly woman buying silver fish. As she negotiated for a reduction in price, he teased her to buy the big fish.

“I do not have that kind of money my son,” the elderly lady shot back. Her positive reaction prompted the OC CID to tell the fish vendor to wrap for her the two pieces of dried tilapia. The gesture left the old woman wondering who it was who had bought her the fish.

Revelation
He promised to visit her to partake of the food once prepared and he moved past a group of young men arguing about the English Premier League.

The old woman followed up just to establish who it was that just bought her fish. When the old woman tapped the OC CID, he introduced himself as the recently posted officer at Kaberamaido Police Station.

The old woman wore a puzzled face and once again expressed her appreciation for the policeman’s kind gesture. “You mean policemen have hearts too!” she exclaimed, as she thanked him again and turned to walk away.

After taking a few steps, she stopped in her tracks, this time lowered her voice and prompted the OC CID to move his ear closer to her mouth to pick every detail that she was about to say.

“The man in the red checked shirt is Abor, he had a gun, you need to take away his gun because he keeps threatening to kill whoever dares him,” the old woman said as she turned and moved off.

The OC CID looked keenly in the direction of the men the old woman had referred to and quickly spotted him. Suddenly, the name Abor rang a bell in his head. To the best of his recollection, Abor was a notorious gangster who dared authority and was not afraid to send warning to even policemen who he thought were about to arrest him.

Not keen to raise suspicions about what the old woman and the detective had discussed, the policeman abandoned everything and headed back to the station. On the way to the station, he found a Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel who he told of how he had seen Abor and needed to arrest him.

“I hurried back to the station, put down the things I was carrying, folded my long-sleeved shirt and headed back to the market,” the OC CID says. He says he ignored the LDU’s calls not to dare try to arrest Abor on his own.

“I had heard Abor’s stories so I did not want to take chances or else he would escape. This was the chance to get him while he was in the market,” the detective says. Like a spirit medium hungry to find a cure for his client, armed with nothing but determination and his long-sleeved shirt folded back, the policeman headed back to Bululu market ready to end Abor’s impunity.

The arrest
The detective said he found Abor at the same spot he had left him arguing about football.
He says he moved closer to the spot and pretended to be by-passing Abor and then swept him off the ground with a single kick to his feet. Abor, the detective says, fell in a thud and could not fight back.

He says he turned Abor over and handcuffed him with both hands at the back. Abor’s acquaintances ran away amid the shock, leaving their ‘man’ to the mercy of the police detective. The detective demanded for the gun in Abor’s possession with ferocity.

In an instant, Abor had been handcuffed and was pleading for mercy to spare his life and promised to lead the police to where he had kept the gun. The OC CID grabbed Abor by the waist, raised him off the ground and walked him to the police station.

“I ordered for all files in which Abor was accused of committing crimes to be brought out,” says the detective. The accusations included murder, robbery and numerous counts of assault.

But all the files had been moved to the regional police headquarters in Soroti. Unable to find the robbery files, Abor, a remnant of UPA, was charged before the Kaberamaido Magistrate’s Court with possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 36 months in jail or a fine of Shs600,000. Two weeks later, Abor paid the fine and was set free and is a common figure around Bululu market in Kaberamaido Market.

Many still find it unfair that Abor was let off lightly and the numerous crimes he is said to have committed, including murder and aggravated robbery, went unpunished. The detective says he failed to access the files that had earlier been raised against Abor.

tmalaba@ug.nationmedia.com