Lira Hospital Fire: Accountant Arrested

1940 Views Lira, Uganda

In short
David Ongom Mudong, the North Kyoga Regional Police Spokesperson, says police preliminary investigation indicates that the Monday evening fire started in the accountants office on the last floor of the two storied building at around 6:30pm.

The Principal Accountant at Lira Regional Referral Hospital is in police custody in connection to a fire incident that burnt the hospital's administration block on Monday.

Simon Odepe was picked from the hospital today morning to help police with the investigation into the cause of the fire. He is being held at Lira central police station.

David Ongom Mudong, the North Kyoga Regional Police Spokesperson says police preliminary investigations indicate that the Monday fire started in the accountant's office on the last floor of the two storied building at around 6:30pm.

It destroyed several computers, financial records, furniture and book shelves among other properties worth millions of Shillings.

Earlier, John Jennifer Omara, an eyewitness, told URN he saw dark smoke accompanied by huge flames from the accountant's office.

Mudong said investigations also found that the fire started shortly after Opede had just abandoned his office. He reportedly relocated to another office from where he was operating.

According to Mudong, police has recovered some of the burnt property like computers and the power savers for testing as part of the investigation.

He says so far police has cordoned off the building as a scene of crime. Three hospital staff including Micheal Odur, the Principal hospital Administrator, Office attendant John Nam and Wilfred Okabo, the hospital security guard have already recorded statements at police.

The accountant has been on the spotlight over accountability issues. In November last year, when the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee members were in Lira, Opede was arrested and held for hours after he failed to give accountability demanded by the legislators.

He was later called before the committee in Parliament and interrogated for alleged embezzlement, and abuse of office among others.

Most people are wondering why the fire broke out in a key office on the very same day a team from the Health Ministry led by the Minister, Jane Aceng Ocero was expected to visit the hospital.

The minister is touring health facilities in Lango sub region but majorly focusing on Lira district.

Aceng was expected to tour Lira Regional Referral Hospital on Monday evening but she was still caught up in the meningitis immunisation exercise by the time the fire started.

URN has learnt that the minister was prompted to schedule a visit to Lira Regional Referral Hospital because of several complaints from patients and whistle blowers implicating the hospital administrators for corruption, nepotism and abuse of office. Other allegations include lack of basic drugs and other medical supplies like syringes and cotton wool among others.

The hospital authorities have declined to comment on the fire. This is the third fire incident involving a major health facility in the country since this year began. On January 8, fire gutted part of the Health Ministry building in Wandegeya, Kampala burning key documents.

Just a week after, fire broke out at Anaka Hospital in Nwoya district burning used office equipment worth over Shillings 50 million, which was due for disposal. Investigations into both incidents are still ongoing.

 

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.