The Local Defence Unit had up to 3,500 personnel across Karamoja region by the end of 2013. They were deployed equally among the districts of Napak, Moroto, Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Kotido, Abim and Kaabong. Each LDU personnel was promised a pay ranging between Shs 130, 000 and 150,000.
However, URN has learnt that hundreds of them have quit the auxiliary force after years without pay. Paul Losike, a resident of Katanga village in Nakapiripirit town council says that harsh conditions forced him out of the force in 2015 after four years of service.
Raphael Adiaka, another LDU deserter from Lobulio-Loomo says he quit the force in 2016 after serving for five years without pay. Adiaka says that although he obtained bank statements from Stanbic bank, Moroto branch, showing financial transactions on his account, he didn't receive any money. His cries are similar to that of Ben Paul Aleper, another LDU deserter.
John Bosco Longoli, another LDU deserter from Loomo in Nakapiripirit says that although there were challenges with payments, the management was very strict on their movements, even when there were problems at home. Longoli who quit just after two years in the force says he lost his wife to another man after failing to fulfill his responsibility as head of the family.
But Captain Isaac Oware, the 3rd Division spokesman dismissed reports that people are deserting the LDUs force.
The recruitment of LDUs in Karamoja has been helpful in curbing cattle thefts in the region. The LDUs are used for tracking stolen cattle, impounding animals and looking after them while in army detaches.
The news comes at a time of fresh recruitment of personnel for the Local Defence Unit (LDU), a drive undertaken by the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) in line with President Yoweri Museveni's announcement that government would arm 24,000 members to pacify parts of Kampala and Wakiso districts following a rise in urban criminality.