Lawyer Sues Lango Paramount Chief for Holding 'Illegal Office'

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In short
In his suit filed at the Constitutional Court, lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo says the current Wonyaci, Yosam Odur does not derive allegiance by the fact of his birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people of Lango. He says this is inconsistent with Article 246 6 of the constitution of Uganda and the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act, 2011.

Lango Paramount Chief, Wonyaci Yosam Odur Ebii, has been dragged to court for allegedly holding this office illegally.

Lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo, the lawyer representing former Lord Resistance Army rebel commander Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court, has sued the Wonyaci jointly with the Attorney General  .

Ayena who is former Member of Parliament for Oyam North Constituency is also the legal advisor for Palamyek Clan in Lango.

In his suit filed at the Constitutional Court, Ayena says the current Wonyaci, Yosam Odur does not derive allegiance by the fact of his birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people of Lango.

He says this is inconsistent with Article 246 (6) of the constitution of Uganda and the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act, 2011 paragraphs 4 (1) (b).

Ayena argues that the constitution does not envisage the installation of a traditional or cultural leader in republican areas of Uganda, including Lango where there is no hereditary rulers.

Section 4 (1) (b) of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act 2011 states that, a Traditional or cultural leader may be instituted in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies, through a resolution of not less than two thirds of all members of the district local councils and sub county local government council respectively in the area.

Section 5 (1) provides that a person may be installed as traditional or cultural leader in any area of Uganda if that person derives allegiance from (a) birth, (b) descent, in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leaders.

However, according to Ayena, Lango as a tribe have never given to any leader including Yosam Odur allegiance to lead them by fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions or consent of people of Lango. He also argues that Odur has never been a king or similar traditional leader by whatever name called who derives allegiance of the above.

Ayena called Odur an impostor to the throne of Wonyaci of Lango and accordingly wants court to grant an order of redress declaring that he is illegally acting as the cultural leader of Lango.

Dr. Richard Nam, the Prime Minister of Lango Cultural Institution, says they have not yet received a copy of the institution or any summons from court. Nam however says their legal team is ready to defend Yosam Odur and Lango Cultural Institution against any illegality.

The latest development has drawn mixed reactions from members of the public.

Eddy George Ococ says Lango Cultural Foundation is fake. Ococ says Lango has its pride and that any attempts by anybody to import another culture to dilute ours will be rejected with the contempt it deserves.

Issah Otto  Amiza, former Oyam South MP says since the Promulgation of the 1995 Constitution and the operationalisation of the cultural and traditional provision through the Institution of Cultural or Traditional  Leaders Act 2011, Lango has ever been instituted as a cultural institution. Otto says he has never paid allegiance to the purported leaders of Lango Cultural Foundation whom he called masqueraders.

Patrick Olwit Ogwang supports Ayena's petition arguing that it is premised within the law. 

Since 2003 when Yosam Odur was installed as the Paramount Chief, his administration has been dogged with disputes with another group accusing him and his team of maladministration and involving the central government in most of the cultural issues in Lango.

As a result, this group has elected Eng. Dr. Moses Odongo Okune, the Executive Director of Uganda Road Fund as the parallel paramount chief. Odongo is yet to be installed in June this year.

 

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.