UPC Officials Re-arrested Minutes after Court Acquittal

2098 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The gunmen whisked the trio into a waiting Saloon car registration number UAZ 992 M and drove off being escorted by a Police patrol car. The trio has been facing charges of treason, concealment of treason and murder.

Dan Oola Odiya, the Deputy National Mobilizer of Uganda People's Congress-UPC has been rearrested minutes after his release from prison.
Oola was picked up by plain clothed men brandishing AK47 rifles together with Kenneth Otto and Sam Oboma at around 10am shortly after being discharged by the Gulu magistrate's court.
The gunmen whisked the trio into a waiting Saloon car registration number UAZ 992 M and drove off being escorted by a Police patrol car. The trio has been facing charges of treason, concealment of treason and murder

While discharging the trio, Paul Owino, the Gulu Grade One magistrate read an 11 January 2017 letter signed by Mike Chibita, the Director of Public Prosecution-DPP, indicating that he had decided to discontinue the charges against them.
He cited article 20(3) clause (b) which states that "the DPP has powers to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered proceedings it has started". Owino then declared the trio discharged before a fully packed court hall. Prison wardens accompanied the trio to sign their discharge forms in the Court chambers.

They emerged out of the chambers 15 minutes later only to be picked up by plain cloth gunmen. Nicholas Opiyo, the lawyer for the accused persons, says the rearrest of the trio shortly after their release from prison is the epitome of abuse of the rule of law. He says it was not surprising that they were re-arrested.

"We have seen many of such events in the premises of court. That is how you begin to get to lawlessness. It is a complete disrespect for court proceedings," he said. Opiyo says the directorate of public prosecutions could have acted in bad faith by withdrawing charges against the accused persons to facilitate their re-arrest.

"It is an assault; it is an affront on court premises that you come and arrest people who have been discharged without giving explanations. It is an assault on the independence of the judiciary, work of the court but more importantly it is a sign of decay of justice in this country", Opiyo said

Opiyo says he will petition High Court in Kampala to intervene in the matter. The trio was on June 15 charged with treason, concealment of treason, murder by shooting and attempted murder and remanded to Gulu Central Prison.

Prosecution alleges that the trio masterminded the May 27, 2016 attacks on Opit LDU Detach in Lakwana Sub-county and the June 12 raid at Gulu Central police station. Four lives were lost, several others injured and eight guns looted in the two week's attacks.

Okello Lucima, the UPC Party Spokesperson, says they were deeply shocked to see persons who had been discharged being re-arrested by unidentified gunmen.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.