The Assistant Public Relations Officer Gulu University, Khalid Mahmoud is stuck with 3800 kilograms of relief food meant for distribution to more than 100 vulnerable people in Pece Pawel Parish in Pece Division Gulu Municipality.
The intended beneficiaries include the elderly, orphans, child headed families, widows, widowers, PWDs and the sickly among others. The relief food that was purchased by Mahmoud with the help of friends and family comprises 2500 kilograms of beans and 1300 kilograms of maize flour valued at Shillings 10 million.
The beneficiaries were registered to receive the food items last week through the office of the area local chairperson. However, the distribution of the food relief hit a snag last week following the arrest of Mahmoud on Wednesday last week by police led by John Bosco Nyangkol, the officer in-charge of Gulu Central Police Station.
He was charged with disobedience of lawful orders and was released on Thursday on police bond. At the time of his arrest, Nyangkol said that Mahmoud had defied the presidential directive banning all forms of gathering and donations of relief items to contain the Corona virus pandemic.
However, the suspect was picked up from his home in Pece Pawel where there was no gathering. Mahmoud has faulted police for his arrest, saying he didn’t defy the presidential directives nor endanger anyone’s life.
Upon his release, Mahmoud was ordered to handover the food items to the Gulu District Coronavirus Taskforce for distribution, which he rejected, saying the distribution process would be abused.
Mahmoud, who is also a member of the Gulu Muslim District Council, says he has now dumped the food items at Jumia Mosque in Gulu town waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to end so that he starts the distribution process afresh.
David Oola, the Village Secretary told URN that they had planned to inform the office of the RDC on the planned food distribution on Friday but shockingly an informer carried a wrong message leading to Mahmoud’s arrest.
He explained that they had planned to call each beneficiary on phone to come and pick his or her food items to avoid crowding since it had been banned by government. Every household was expected to receive 25 kilograms of maize flour and 15 kilograms of beans.
Robert Opira, a cobbler and one of those who was lined up to benefit from the relief food, says that he has stopped his cobbling business following the president`s directive. Opira says the was shocked to learn of the arrest since he was hopeful to receive the food aid which was the only hope for him and the three members of his family.
Mahmoud’s arrest comes at a time when government is distributing food relief to vulnerable people in Kampala and Wakiso because of the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the corona pandemic.
In his televised address on Tuesday last week, President Museveni ordered the arrest of any body found distributing food, saying they were endangering the rights of Ugandans since they are violating the directive on social distancing. Uganda has so far registered 52 cases of coronavirus disease.