The Uganda Revenue Authority – URA has denied that their security operatives shot and injured a boda-boda rider on February 23rd, sparking off riots in Koboko Municipality.
One person was killed in the scuffle and several injured, including a journalist who was covering the events, according to the police in West Nile.
URA says URA-Police operatives attempted to apprehend a boda-boda rider who was suspected of smuggling about 320 litres of fuel in 16 jerry cans in Oraba town near the border with South Sudan.
As he tried to escape from the operation, he lost control of his motorcycle and fell into a drainage trench, contrary to allegations that he was shot at, according to a statement but URA Commissioner General, John Musinguzi Rujoki.
“Fellow motorists gathered into a mob and tried to attack our customs office in the area. However, the security team at Oraba Office was alert, and the protesters feared approaching them,” he said.
Instead, URA and police say, the riders went to Koboko and mobilised more of their colleagues to attack Koboko URA offices. In the scuffle, one person was shot dead.
The deceased was identified as 27-year-old Badru Adui, a Boda boda rider in Koboko town. He died when police opened fire to disperse the rioters who had surrounded Koboko Central Police Station and attempted to torch a vehicle belonging to URA.
“The protesters turned their rage onto the Koboko Domestic Taxes office that was not well guarded and destroyed assorted office equipment,” says Rujoki.
As the mob embarked on the destruction of the office equipment and documents, army officers came in to quell the situation. “A backup force from UPDF arrived quickly, and the situation was contained before the rioters could set the place ablaze. Unfortunately, one person identified as Badru Ajiga died during the scuffle between the rioters and security agencies,” adds URA.
Josephine Angucia, the West Nile Police Spokesperson said photocopying machines, computers and files were burnt before “occupants in the vehicle UAW 848U that was following them opened fire to disperse them,” injuring four and killing one.
Four other people were injured, including Abrahaman Ayub, a journalist, who was beaten by the mob and his camera destroyed for trying to record their riotous activities, according to URA.
“URA commiserates with the family of the deceased and prays for the full recovery of the injured.We condemn any acts of violence against our officers, members of the public and property.”
A stray bullet injured an unidentified woman who was hit in the armpit. The mob also injured a police officer. The injured were admitted at Koboko health centre IV.
Earlier, Dr. Wilson Sanya, the mayor of Koboko municipality, says that the chaos erupted at around 10 am when a URA enforcement team from the Oraba border shot and injured a Boda boda rider suspected to have been involved in fuel smuggling.
According to Sanya, this angered other riders who mobilized and attempted to burn the URA domestic tax office in Koboko town.
Sanya explained that upon discovering that the URA vehicle was parked at Koboko central police station, the mob regrouped and surrounded Koboko Central Police Station forcing officers to use live bullets to disperse them.
Samuel Abwang, the Koboko District Police Commander has condemned the mob saying there are better ways to resolve conflicts, other than destructive riots.
Sanya has also condemned the methods used by URA to enforce tax compliance, saying they had agree before that URA and Police should stop chasing suspected tax defaulters on motorcycles or vehicles.
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