Odongo Odoyo

Topical Commentary

With Odongo Odoyo

On Monday evening l received a call from someone who was desperately in need of assistance. His wife had been arrested for visa fees among other Uganda national. This someone was so mad with me saying why you people publish reports that there is free movements while we are still being arrested and charged by people claiming to be immigration officers. The evening of that call, it was alleged that 15 people had been arrested for the same offence in Tong Ping area of Juba. They were all taken to a police station and charged fees of 8,000 each. Those who paid were released and those who did not remained under custody until yesterday morning, nine people were still being held. Why is this kind of thing going on because we have good communication with the Immigration department but they said the issue had not been brought to their attention. Just few weeks ago 25 people of Uganda nationals were equally reportedly arrested in Sherikat, Gumbo, their cases are far from over but they had to pat with something small to be released. A question that must be answered is “are there two sets of immigration officers carrying different orders from different bosses” The actual office of the known Director General and his communication officer have clearly told us that they do not know of the arrest. They have reaffirmed that the open visa movement was in place and being practiced by the department. In simple terms, there is no visa requirements for Ugandans and Kenyans. Then who is carrying out these arrests in broad-daylight and demanding bribes to release the alleged victims. Who is this trying to bend the rule or sabotage the regional cooperation on free movements? Immigration department should come out with full investigations to find out who was tarnishing the image of the country by arbitrary arrests and confinement of innocent people who are here under the East Africa Community (EAC) free movement agreement that the nationals in the bloc enjoys. Whoever, was doing this must understand that the free movement agreement in the region came from the bloc’s head of states which must be respected by the signatories and their countries. It will be very unfortunate if and when one of the member states do the contrary. This is why l am pleading with the right immigration office to investigate and stamp out those doing illegal visa fee demand behind their back. It is true that a change comes with cost and for those who were getting something small on those who did not have legal documents before the visa waiver, they must accept that the changes have come and they must change with changes. No more free cash or chasing after those without visa like they were doing before. These people involved in undercuts or illegalities are enemies who are out to portray negative images of the nation in the eyes of other member states in the bloc.

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