It was the second day of the operation in March 1979 when Captain Abure (ADC 1/Head of State Research Bureau, East Lango District and Lt Philly Katema (ADC 1/ Head of State Research Bureau), West Lango District, rounded up more than 80 businessmen, civil servants and mistakenly took away one madman Onapa Cogo, from Apac town and took them to Lira. Only Moses Ocen’s cousin Oboko jumped out of the Mercedes Benz bus taking them to Lira and ran for dear life. The SRB guys had jumped out of the bus to chase a man who was riding a bicycle, wearing a greenish shirt (which they probably thought was a army shirt).
‘Bloody Sunday’ was preceded by ‘Bloody Thursday’ and ‘Bloody Saturday’.
The operation was coordinated by a Mr Ali Ochama, an Alur who was a driver of the Northern Province Bus Company (Olilim-Amugo-Lira-Apapc-Akokoro route) , who was for years known as a jolly driver but turned out to have been a State Research guy.
On ‘Bloody Sunday’ , current senior prisons officer Robson Odur had to squat in the external bathroom on their compound for 6 hours because SRB guys had packed their blue Peugeot 404 pick-up and had assembled all those being arrested on the back compound of the house of Odur’s father Allon Ojok. Allon Odur Ojok whose name was also on the list of those to be picked, engaged the SRB in a race on a motorcycle versus Peugeot unless they gave up on catching him on Aminteng road and returned to town more annoyed, ending up arresting a mad man they took and never returned. His tale of cheating death is still the talk of the town to date.
Robson Odur of Uganda Prisons and his brother Geoffrey Okae of Uganda Police as well as many others like Ogwang Olet (known as Ogwang Atin Lyec), Otim Toga and a couple of many young men and women who witnessed and were probably traumatised for life are still alive.
In fact I had a drink with Robson Odur the other day in Lira and asked him why he did not just bolt out of the damn external bathroom and run for life as the SRB guys may have wanted to pee and got him right there. He said he will never understand why he chose to squat in that bathroom for six hours.
What I have never understood was why a government which knew it was about to fall could pick up its perceived enemies just for one last massacre.
Of course Amin’s government fell barely three weeks later and the part I did not like was when the crowd in town got enraged and excited and thought they should get rid of anyone associated with Amin, without really knowing whether they were Amin’s sympathizers or not. The first victim lynched was a guy named ABDALLAH AMIN ORYONO, one of the few Muslims around, then the DPC Mpaulo, the Musoga and Lt Philly Katema, the Munyarwanda and a Mugisu businessman named John Walukhu. Katema and the DPC perhaps deserved it; both did not know where to run after Kampala had fallen and chose to stay until a local militia composed of ex-soldiers and commanded by Oyuru Aguru and one Adoko-Cuda gunned them down after a rather childish stand-off lasting three days till April 13, 1979.
UAH member in Paris