DPP Drops Charges Against Lango Cultural Leaders

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In short
The seven were accused of holding an illegal assembly that elected Eng. Michael Odongo Okune, the Executive Director of Road Fund as a Parallel Paramount Chief of Lango disregarding Yosam Odur Ebii, the incumbent Paramount Chief.

The Directorate of Public Prosecution-DPP has dropped all the charges against seven members of Lango Cultural Foundation alias Tekwaro Lango implicated for their involvement in organizing and participating in the election of the parallel paramount chief. In February, Police rounded arrested seven members of the Tekwaro Lango Electoral Commission of Tekwaro Lango for what police described as an illegal exercise.
 
 
The suspects included Vincent I Oling, the Commission chairperson, his deputy, Joan Pacuto and Rt. Col. Tonny Otoa, the former chairperson of the Lango Cultural Foundation Constitutional Review Commission. Others are Tommy Odur Anang, Lucy Owino, Hamaza Okello and Michael Odongo. 



The seven were accused of holding an illegal assembly that elected Eng. Michael Odongo Okune, the Executive Director of Road Fund as a Parallel Paramount Chief of Lango disregarding Yosam Odur Ebii, the incumbent Paramount Chief. 



The suspects were charged with holding an unlawful assembly and uttering false documents. They spent three days in Police cell before they were granted police bond. Police dropped the charges and slapped them with a fresh charge of promoting war against a legitimate cultural chief contrary to Section 27 of the Penal Code Act. 




It provides that "Any person who, without lawful authority, or by reason of his or her office, carries on, or makes preparation for carrying on, or aids in or advises the carrying on of, or preparation for, any war or warlike undertaking with, for, by or against any chief, body or group of persons commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life."

 
 
Now, the DPP has dropped the charges against the suspects. In a letter signed by Barbra Masinde on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Lira Resident State Attorney, Prosecutions argues that the assembled evidence is insufficient to sustain the charge of promoting war against the chief. She further argued that the activities of holding meetings and electing a new paramount chief in which the suspects were involved, did not involve armed conflict as to bring them into context of war or war-like activities.

 
She said the facts however disclose civil issues as to who should be the Lango cultural leader and the procedure for his installation. Masinde said the parties should as such be advised to pursue civil remedies in line with Sections 16 (2) ad (3) of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act. She asked the police to close the file. Earlier the group pleaded innocence, arguing that their actions are within law.
 
 
Lango cultural foundation has been embroiled with disputes following allegations of maladministration leveled against the Yosam Odur Ebii, the incumbent paramount chief. The rival group has set June this year for the election of Eng. Michael Odongo Okune as the parallel paramount chief. However, Odur's camp has vowed to block the coronation, saying Odongo was illegally elected.


 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.