One person was shot dead on Monday as UPDF soldiers attached to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) impounded unlicensed motorcycles at Arivu trading center, Arivu Sub-county in Arua District.
An eye witness said Bosco Jurua, a resident of Ayaka village, Omoo Parish, Arivu Sub-county in Arua District was shot during a scuffle as he was opening his salon business shortly after having breakfast.
“After the URA enforcers impounded five motorcycles a woman who owns one of the motorcycles tried to plead with the officers not to take it. The woman knelt down and started crying which attracted other people. Moments later, I heard a gunshot and saw Jurua falling down,” Mr Jimmy Debo said.
“Do they really have to shoot at citizens when collecting tax? This man was not even a smuggler, nor did he own a motorcycle. This is total negligence,” he added.
The regional enforcement officer, Mr Ivan Kakaire regretted the incident and said the soldiers who conducted the operation had been arrested.
“There was a shooting incident by one of the soldiers and this is regrettable. We have arrested the soldiers who were on duty. This time the soldier who shot should be tried in court martial because we have warned them before, against shooting civilians even if they are being stoned,” he said.
“Loss of life in such circumstances is not good; whether he was a smuggler or not. We shall discuss with the family on meeting the funeral expenses. And when the old woman started making an alarm about the release of her motorcycles, the soldiers should have left the place without shooting anybody,” he added.
The district LC5 Chairman, Mr Alfred Okuonzi, said Jurua’s body had been taken to Arua Regional Referral hospital for postmortem.
The shooting comes two weeks after another UPDF soldier attached to URA shot and injured a cyclist, Mr Philliam Anguni, 21, on allegations of riding a numberless motorcycle.
Anguni, a resident of Nyio Parish in Vurra Sub-county was injured on the thigh and is still recovering from the bullet wound.
Arua and all West Nile districts are awash with numberless boda boda motorcycles originating mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
However, the business community and local leaders in West Nile sub region have decried the brutality of URA enforcement officers during their operations against smuggling.
In a meeting with the business community last Saturday, the customs supervisor, Mr Alex Murungi said government was losing a lot of money to smuggling business which has become a source of livelihood for many youths in the sub region.
“Our main problem now is to get the fuel smugglers off the streets because fuel is highly inflammable and this is a great security threat. When it bursts accidentally one day, it can cause a big problem to Arua Town,” he said.