Police are investigating circumstances under which a Ugandan businessman was shot dead by suspected South Sudanese rebels on April 10, 2017.
Micheal Odiya, 20 and resident of Potika Parish in Agoro Sub-county, Lamwo District was reportedly shot several times at about 9pm on the fateful day in a rebel held Ayaci County in Imatong state.
Violence erupted in Imatong state on Monday following an offensive the government backed forces Sudan People’s Liberation Army [SPLA] launched against various militias in Pajok and Ayaci forcing over 4,000 refugees into Lamwo District in Northern Uganda.
The LCIII Chairperson Agoro Sub-county, Mr Denis Onyon told this reporter on Wednesday that they received reports indicating that the deceased entered an ambush while riding a motorcycle back to his home in Palwa village.
“We are uncertain of the people who killed Odiya but we were told by South Sudanese security officials that unknown rebels shot him many times. We received the information yesterday [March 11] morning,” Mr Onyon said.
He added that the Odiya’s body was handed over to Ugandan authorities by the SPLA soldiers on Tuesday evening after heated negotiations between local leaders in Agoro and those in Ayaci County.
“The SPLA soldiers never wanted to bring his body home, they instead wanted us (leaders and the relatives) to go up to Ayaci but we refused because of the insecurity there,” Mr Onyon explained.
He asked Ugandan businessmen still operating in the war torn South Sudan to return home and urged the government to intervene and provide safety for those trapped so that they make it safe home.
There are fears by Ugandan authorities that several other businessmen were killed in the ongoing renewed violence that erupted last week in Africa’s youngest nation.
The Lamwo District LCV Chairperson Mr John Ogwok, when contacted on telephone interview said he was aware of the tragic incident but noted that the district security teams were investigating the actual cause of Odiya’s death.
“We don’t want to speculate the conditions of Ugandans in Imatong state at the moment. We however believe that those killed could be more than one, but already our security teams are liaising with those in Imatong state to establish facts,” Mr Ogwok said.
Brig Micheal Kabango, fifth Infantry division commander when contacted said he wasn’t aware of the killing of Odiya but promised to investigate and share his findings.
Last year, the government warned its citizens especially traders to be cautious when travelling to South Sudan saying the country was still volatile following the July war that broke out in Juba city.
By the time of filing this story, funeral services for the deceased were ongoing at his ancestral home in Potika parish, Agoro Sub County.
Recent killings of Ugandans
In May last year, three Ugandan traders were shot dead by suspected rebels between Aruu Junction and Magwi town in Eastern Equatoria state, 25 kilometers from Nimule town.
An April same year, unknown gunmen shot dead Musa Bunya, a truck driver and injured his turn man Jackson Kiyaga between Tseretenya and Ikotos town in South Sudan’s Imatong State, 20 kilometers from Ugandan-South Sudan border.