Eastern Equatoria Governor Louis Lobong speaks to reporters at Torit airstrip on July 9, 2020 (Radio Tamazuj)

Civil society petitions Governor Lobong over insecurity

The Eastern Equatoria State Civil Society Network delivered a petition to Governor Louis Lobong Lojore last week, raising concerns about the escalating insecurity along the Torit-Kapoeta road. This move follows a series of alarming security incidents that have resulted in loss of lives, injuries, and property theft along the Camp 15-Kapoeta road.

The Eastern Equatoria State Civil Society Network delivered a petition to Governor Louis Lobong Lojore last week, raising concerns about the escalating insecurity along the Torit-Kapoeta road. This move follows a series of alarming security incidents that have resulted in loss of lives, injuries, and property theft along the Camp 15-Kapoeta road.

The petition, which has been reviewed by Radio Tamazuj, outlines the urgent need for Governor Lobong to take immediate action to address the security challenges along the Torit-Kapoeta highway.

According to the civil society group, this growing insecurity has disrupted peaceful coexistence and hindered the free movement of the business community and humanitarian services in the region.

Last week, a 26-year-old goat trader, identified as Ramsey, was tragically shot dead, and a Sudanese driver was injured at Khor Galerio along the Camp 15-Kapoeta road. Additionally, on the 11th of this month, four people lost their lives, including two pregnant women, and a Boda-Boda rider was injured along the Camp 15-Napak road in Budi County, Eastern Equatoria State.

Charles Onen Lokwaru, the Eastern Equatoria State Chairperson for Civil Society Network, affirmed that the petition is a call to action against the alarming insecurity along the Torit-Kapoeta road.

He reported that within less than four days, approximately five road ambushes have been recorded along the Camp 15-Kapoeta road, posing a significant threat to lives and disrupting service delivery by humanitarian organizations and the business community.

“The issue of insecurity along the Torit-Kapoeta highway has been consistently happening, especially within the last three or four days, where we have had over five road ambushes in which we had a loss of lives. At least three people died, and many people were injured, and many people disappeared in the bush. We thank God that those who were feared dead after they disappeared into the bushes have safely returned. The state government should not keep quiet over it. The office of the governor, who is the head of security in the state, should immediately address this matter. It is no longer a point of waiting; it is a point of need for action,” he emphasized.

Stephne Namwang Karlo, the Executive Director in the Office of the Governor, confirmed that the state office has received the petition and commended the civil society for voicing concerns on behalf of the people. He noted that the government also condemns the insecurity in the area and is committed to restoring security.

“The governor is in support of this petition and in support of what the civil society needs them to do. It is just like any other citizen who will come and give advice, and our governor always listens to such advice. We need to come together to address such concerns so that passengers can safely travel on the roads, goods can reach those in need, and services can be provided to the suffering people. It has been a while since we faced such issues, especially since the initiation of the justice and peace mission, when cases of insecurity significantly dropped. However, now, due to the rains and the tall grass along the roads, criminals tend to hide in the bushes and launch ambushes,” Namwang explained.

The Office of the Governor encourages communities to continue identifying suspects and reporting them to the police so that the government can ensure that these criminals are brought to justice.

Elia John Ahaji, Eastern Equatoria State Minister of Information and the state government spokesperson, denied having received the petition but acknowledged the alarming insecurity along the Kapoeta-Camp 15 road. He confirmed that the state government is actively investigating these criminal acts and called for calm among citizens.

“We are aware of some criminal activities happening along Kapoeta Camp 15 highway, and as the state government, we are doing our best to carry out the investigation to establish the motivating factors. We will deploy forces in the area to restore law and order. They will be deployed very soon. To those individuals and groups involved in these ambushes on innocent civilians and business people, I say they should cease these criminal activities of attacking people and ambushing vehicles along the roads,” he concluded.