Uganda: UPDF Marine Impersonator Using Toy Gun Arrested Over Extortion

It was a hide-and-seek chase in Namasale Town Council in Amolatar district on Monday when a team of UPDF soldiers hunted down a man accused of swindling money and other valuables from the fishing community in the area.

The armed UPDF soldiers embarked on the search by mid-morning when tipped that the conman identified as Moses Musa Okwir, had slept in one of the houses in the trading center and had not moved out yet.

The soldiers searched for Okwir in vain from one house to the next for approximately an hour as he switched from one house to another.

To tame his monkey tricks, soldiers rounded up the entire area. He was then found in a dilapidated grass-thatched house.

27-year-old Okwir, a resident of Kyoga C Ward, Namasale Town Council, according to residents, disguises himself as a UPDF marine officer and demands for money or fish from the fishermen. He also confiscates fishing nets from fishermen who decline or fail to submit to his demands.

Charles Oleke, one of the fishermen said "suspicion developed against Okwir, who operates mostly at night. When at close range we discovered that he used a toy gun and his uniform was also fake."

The Amolatar District acting RDC Jonathan Akweteireho, confirmed the arrest on telephone on Tuesday.

"It is true we arrested him and one other person earlier today, they will definitely have to face the law," Mr Akweteireho said.

According to him, several masqueraders have been taking advantage of the current operations by the army against illegal fishing in Lake Kiyoga and Lake Kwania, to extort money from the vulnerable fishermen.

The 5th Division army spokesman Lt. Hassan Ahmed Kato said Okwir was arrested by soldiers following numerous complaints by residents who claimed he was armed and beat up people who failed to heed to his demands.

"He did the most dangerous thing to confiscate fishing nets and fish as well as harassing people while masquerading to be a marine soldier during his illegal operations. He is in detention as we carry out investigations," Lt Kato said.

He was found with fake military attires (uniform), a wooden toy pistol and wooden gun (AK47) including 7 fishing nets, Lt. Kato added.

"It is my call to these fishing community to always be vigilant and watchful against such suspecting people who are lurking around to exploit such situations and deprive innocent people of their properties."

The UPDF marine soldiers are currently deployed in the waters of Lake Kiyoga and Kwania to enforce a ban on fishing due to fish stock depletion in the lakes. The ban is to continue for next six months according to authorities.

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