Michael Omona, aka Maikol Signaler, one of Kony’s main communication handlers, returned to Uganda this week. He apparently surrendered in Sam Ouandja, CAR, near the border with Kafia Kingi, where Kony has been holed up for the last few years. It is unclear how he managed to leave and make it to Sam Ouandja, the Ugandan army has restricted access to him because of his ‘high value.’
Maikol has certainly been an important figure in the LRA for many years. He was likely trained by The Technician, a legendary communications officer in the LRA, who used to fix television and radio sets before he was abducted, hence his nickname, and rose to be a key communication handler for Kony for many years. I talk a bit about Maikol in this recent interview.
Here is an excerpt from intercepted communications between Kony signalers in April 2006 when Maikol was already trusted by Kony as his main signaler. A signaler is a someone who talks on behalf of a certain commander using high frequency radios, walkie talkies or satellite phones.
By 2013 Maikol was in Kony’s group in Kafia Kingi. He, alongside Labalpiny were Kony’s sole signalers. It appears that in the last four years Labalpiny became in charged and Maikol seems to have been demoted. Nevertheless Maikol’s knowledge of the LRA and Kony’s activities should not underestimated. He can be a good source of information.
Maikol’s defection might not be a crushing blow to the LRA but continues a trend of former commanders such as Ongwen and Okot Odek whose defections have certainly weakened Kony’s group for good.