Gulu leaders turn to individuals and companies for food relief items

BY Deo Wasswa

Leaders in Gulu town are stressed with the pressure from bodaboda operators, saloon operators and special hire drivers who are demanding for food to feed their families.

Speaking to capital radio, the mayor of Gulu municipality, George Labeja noted with concern that these people are approaching them on daily basis asking for maize flour and beans yet the leaders have nothing to offer.

He says following the delays by the central government to support their population with food relief, they are now calling for food aid and other kind of support from individuals and companies to help these people.

He however advises those still in Gulu town yet can access their villages to go and start farming vegetables and other food that growing fast as the another solution to address food insecurity .

Gulu is home to tolerant happy people -Aol

By Gloria Nakiyimba

With just a few days left to the Capital Radio tour of Northern Uganda, Gulu has been described as one of the best places in Uganda with very happy people. Gulu district woman Member of Parliament and Leader of opposition in parliament, Aol Betty Ochan says Gulu is a great place to live with a number of tourist sites including the historical Sir Samuel Baker site.

“We are happy in Gulu. It’s a happy place .I encourage people to visit Gulu. I love the people of Gulu because of their kindness, because of their truthfulness and because they are hard working. Women work so hard” she noted.
Majority of the people in Gulu are predominantly Christians. However, there is religious tolerance and a peaceful co-existence with people from other religious denominations.

“It has been a very long journey for us from camps. We have the Muslims who work together very well with Christians. We have Acholi religious leaders’ peace initiative which unites all the different denominations and people co-exist respecting each others’ opinion. You don’t force people to believe in what you may believe in. All of us believe in God, but knowing that there are many different ways of traveling to God” said Hon. Aol Betty.However, the rate at which people commit suicide in this northern district are some of the negatives impacts reminiscent of the suffering the population went through during the Lord’s resistance war that left thousands dead and many maimed.
“Suicide is common, people commit suicide. Some of our young babies these days are born of children who were brought up in the camps, who never got proper informal education, so they do not care for their children. So those things are there and we need to have a lot of concerted effort to make sure that our young people should love their children, they must be cared for, and they must be educated so that tomorrow we have quality people”

In spite of being a good place to live, Gulu still faces the problem of the quality of the population. “Education is still a problem, since our parents can only afford primary, but when it comes to secondary it’s a challenge. People are struggling to make sure they take their children in good schools”
The peace experienced in Gulu is one of the reasons why leader of opposition says you don’t want to leave Gulu once you go there.
There is always a bad apple in every basket, there are some pockets of criminals who still terrorize residents.
Although it’s a smooth ride to Gulu town, due to the good roads, the story is different traveling in the villages outside the town.
“The roads in the town seem to be okay. They are good. Its only deep in the rural areas that the roads are bad, but I always encourage people to visit Gulu”

Suspected Ebola case samples in Lacor sent to Mulago for investigation

St Mary’s Hospital Lacor has isolated a female patient suspected of having Ebola.

The woman was transferred from Adjumani Hospital on May 31st and doctors observed signs similar to Ebola.

According to Dr Emmanuel Ochola, the Lacor Hospital Epidemiologist, the suspected case has been isolated and is being monitored. He says a blood sample has been sent to Mulago National Referral Hospital for investigations.

Ochola, however, says it is only a suspected case whose confirmation will be determined based on results from Mulago.

“It was a gynaecological problem, she was referred here on that background but we started observing signs similar to those of Ebola,” he said.

Ochola says there is no cause for alarm as the situation is contained. He says, however, they have called upon doctors to be vigilant and have a high level of suspicion, while the population should report any suspicious cases.

In 2000, a deadly Ebola outbreak in Gulu district killed at least 200 people including Lacor Hospital director, Dr Matthew Lukwiya. The outbreak lasted from October 2000 to January 2001 affecting another  400 people in the district.

Just in May this year, the World Health Organisation confirmed Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Gulu deputy town clerk Oola killed by suspected hit men

Suspected iron bar hit men have killed John Oola Omona, the Gulu Deputy Town clerk. Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa River Police Spokesperson, says Omona was attacked at midnight shortly after dropping off his friend, Alice Kipwola at her home near Bright Valley Schools in Kanyagoga B village in his Mitsubishi vehicle registration number CE 020K.

Okema says Police visited the scene this morning and took Omana’s lifeless body to Gulu Regional and teaching hospital for postmortem. Police are currently holding Kipwola under SD Ref: 04/23/05/2017 to facilitate investigations into the murder.

George Labeja, the Mayor Gulu Municipality, says they are all shocked to learn the death of Omona, adding that council will issue a formal statement on the incident later. “It has already happened. It is so sad. I can only comment when my mind is settled but meetings for funeral arrangement will start later today,” he said.

Kelly Komakech, the Pece Division LC 3 Chairperson describes the late Omona as a kind, professional and trustworthy person. “He mentored me while I was in Gulu Municipal Council”. The attack on Omona came just a few hours after 22-year-old Justine Oloya, a resident of Kanyangoga A ward in Bar Dege Division was also attacked by unidentified thugs around Pentagon Bar as he returned home from a night out.

Oloya is nursing injuries at Gulu Regional Referral and Teaching hospital.  A few weeks ago, suspected iron bar hit men also attacked Paul Omiya, the Gulu Resident State Attorney and a grade one magistrate.





Iron bar hit man nabbed spying on victim

Gulu Police are holding a suspected iron bar hit man. The suspect is 30-year-old Peter Mulala.
He was picked up from St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor on Wednesday where he had gone to spy on Samuel Opoka, a resident of Kanyagoga, a village in Bardege division following his attack the previous night. Opoka sustained a deep cut on his forehead during the 2am attack outside his gate.
Martin Okoyo, the Gulu District Police Commander said Mulala trailed the victim from Gulu Regional Referral hospital where he was briefly treated before being transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. According to Okoyo, Mulala was trailing his victim to ensure he was dead.
He says Mulala pretended to seek treatment for rabies. “When the prescribed anti-rabies treatment for him, Mulala objected to the treatment prompting Opoka to identify him as his tormentor”, he explained. Opoka is the latest victim of Iron Bar Hitmen in Gulu district.
Four other people were injured in Gulu town on Eve of Easter. They included a Gulu based pastor and boda boda cyclist in Bar Dege division in Gulu municipality.
The other victim is Samuel Okaka, a radio journalist attached to Vision Group’s Radio Rupiny.  In 2016, more than 30 people were attacked by the suspected iron bar hit men in Gulu town.



By Sania Babirye

Four more people have been charged with participating in a plan to attack Gulu Central Police station and Onapit Army detach in 2016.

Otto Kenneth, Ojok Samuel, Okello Ajubu and Opiyo Charles have been charged  before the general court Martial chaired by  Lt Gen. Andrew Gutti. This brings the total number of those charged for the alleged attack to 25. They face 13 counts including, attempted murder and offences relating to security.

However one of the suspects has entered a plea on grounds that they are being tried in the wrong court. The accused explains that the army court has no powers or jurisdiction to try them because they are civilians with no military background.

Prosecution states that the accused with others still at large between May and June 2016, at Opit Army detach and Gulu CPS with malice unlawfully caused the death of Private Odong Alphonse Ojara, Okullo Haggai and injured many.

Photo Credit: Eagle Online

Persistent drought dries up Dam in Gulu

Two large dams supplying water to Gulu town have finally dried up completely following the persistent drought in Northern Uganda. The dams are Oyitino I constructed in the late 1960s and Oyitino II built in 2016, all in Bungatira Sub County in Aswa County.

Torrential rainfall that fell briefly in March and April failed to refill the two dams. In its latest weather forecast, the National Meteorological Authority said northern Uganda would receive near normal rainfall in its first season falling between February and June.

But with barely a month left to the end of the season, proper adaptation is critical for the estimated 200,000 people living in this sprawling city. Every day, long queues form around few boreholes in Gulu town as desperate residents collect the little water they can fetch from swamps, spring wells and piped water sources.

At Uhuru spring well in Bank Lane, women gather as early as 5am to find water. Agnes Naroso, a resident of Kony Paco village was among those collecting water from the piped water source. She told URN the dilemma of women living in Gulu town.

Another woman who spoke on condition of anonymity told URN that some residents come to the borehole with more than 10 Jerrycans to last few days from localities as distant as 5Kilometers out of town.

37-year-old David Oryema, a resident of Kasubi Central ward in Bar Dege Division, says he travels an average of 5Km on a motorbike to fetch six jerrycans of water for his family from a borehole within Oyitino pumping site in Bungatira Sub County.

The crisis has lasted for at least six months. In March, the Gulu court and magistrate courts suspended trial proceedings to cope with the deteriorating sanitation crisis that also affected Gulu regional and teaching hospital.

To mitigate the unfolding crisis, National Water and Sewerage Corporation has stationed a response team in Gulu town to ensure that temporal solutions are found for the problem. They are being headed Francis Owot, the director of Finance and Accounts, National Water and Sewerage Corporation.

Owot told URN that they are desperately scouring areas in the North, South, East and West of Gulu town for large underground water reserves to restore supply to residents in the northern Uganda business hub. He says so far, their hunt has resulted into three mini pumping sites where very deep boreholes have been sunk around the town.

The three boreholes in Unyama, Onang and Mican villages can collectively generate 900,000 liters of water every day.

With nothing from the two dams reaching the 6,235 cubic meter storage facilities in Boma, Pece, Army barracks, Customs Corner and Lacor, the figure being produced from the three boreholes is just a drop in sinks and latrines, as institutions such as Gulu Hospital take up to 14,000 liters daily.

In the meantime, underground search has identified five new sites in Aworanga, Bungatira and Bank Lane, behind Hotel Kakanyero in the heart of Gulu Town. The corporation hopes they can yield enough quantity to meet the estimated 15 million liters of daily demands.

National Water and Sewerage Corporation has embarked on enlarging Oyitino II to store plenty of storm water for the worst of time. Owot says the World Bank has also joined the battle against the worst water crisis in decades by committing to sink a third large dam near Oyitino I and II.

The project is at consultancy stage after passing an environmental impact assessment test.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu LC V chairperson says a long term adaptation project will draw water from Nile River, located some 74Kilometers on Gulu – Kampala highway.

Francis Owot says the Karuma water works will also supply other towns in the region including Kamdini, Minakulu and Bobi.





Four arrested for illegal possession, gun hidden in motorcycle cushion

Gulu police are holding four men for illegal gun possession and poaching.

The suspects are Lenox Ojok, Solomon Nyero, Steward Kibwola, and Samuel Kinyera, all residents of Nwoya district.

The suspects were picked up by Police Flying Squad from Gulu town over the weekend while attempting to sell 12 Kilograms of ivory they extracted from an elephant they killed from Murchison Falls National Park.

They were also found with a number less motorcycle and an AK47 Rifle registration number 56-119173755, with a magazine with live ammunition.

The weapon had been hidden inside the cushion of a motorcycle registration number UDG 902 K. Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa River Region Police spokesperson, says the suspects will face other charges on advice of Resident State Attorney after intelligence linked them to robbery as well.




Circumstances surrounding Todwong’s shooting still not clear

Conflicting reports continue to emerge about circumstances under which Richard Todwong, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party deputy secretary general, was shot on Saturday night.

Todwong is currently admitted at International Hospital Kampala (IHK) after being airlifted from Gulu where he was first admitted with gunshot wounds. A source at Gulu Independent Hospital who preferred anonymity told URN that Todwong was at about 9am on Sunday morning airlifted from Gulu airstrip aboard a UPDF helicopter to International Hospital in Kampala for specialised treatment.

A medical report obtained from Gulu Independent Hospital indicates that National Resistance Movement (NRM) party deputy secretary obtained a soft tissue injury of left thigh.

The report says 45-year-old Todwong with in-patient number 50618 reported to the hospital with gunshot wound two hours after the incident with no prior ill-health reported.

Gulu Independent hospital says continuous monitoring for vital signs of threats to his life after every two hours cleared him of any danger to his life after treatment.

He was stable, alert and not in pain with no sign of shock as he reported to the Gulu based hospital.

“A round shape puncture wound estimated to be 3-4cm in diameter with rugged edge proximal to the left lateral thigh, was noted locally oozing with venous blood. Another similar wound just proximal to the left knee joint about 2cm in diameter, not actively bleeding,” the report of Dr. Anena Joyce Oyet who treated Todwong states.

Dr. Anena was not available for interview when a URN reporter visited the hospital. But her report that URN saw ruled out injuries to the hip joint despite saying there was local swelling of the thigh along the imaginary line joining the two wounds with tenderness. Joint range of movement was unaffected and sensation was intact, according to the report.

Todwong was reportedly injured by his own weapon on Saturday evening as he drove to Gulu town. He underwent x-ray from Gulu Independent Hospital that ruled out any internal fracture or dislocation.

The report however states that complete blood count signifies occult blood infection prior to the incident. His wound was dressed and patient put on anti-biotics,” it concluded.

The incident happened at Coo – Pelwor trading centre in Kiryandongo Sub County in Kiryandongo district at about 9pm. The trading centre is between Bweyale and Karuma trading centre.

Thomas Lapyem Awany, a lawyer and the younger brother of Todwong, says “Todwong had just driven through a rowdy mob at an accident scene in Coo Pelwor trading centre when the incident happened.” Lapyem, however, doesn’t give details of what happened at the accident scene that could have necessitated Todwong to pull out his gun.

Joyce Alima, former deputy speaker of Gulu district local government says Todwong accidentally shot himself “as he adjusted himself on his car seat.”

Captain Okot Santos Lapolo, Gulu Resident District Commissioner has ruled out assassination attempt on Todwong. He confirmed after speaking to family sources in Gulu that the NRM deputy secretary general injured himself using his own weapon.

James Ochen, the NRM chairperson in Gulu has also confirmed it was an accident.

When URN spoke to Martin Okoyo, the Gulu district Police Commander, he said that neither the accident nor the shooting were reported to Police.

Lt. Hassan Kato, the UPDF 4th Division Commander says he was yet to be briefed on the details of the accident despite Todwong being airlifted from Gulu airfield near the division barracks.

Quoting Maj. Gen. Charles Otema Awany, the Commander of UPDF Reserve Force and also the eldest brother of Todwong, Gulu based Mega FM reported that Todwong shot himself as he paid attention to a suspicious vehicle trailing his car in Diima village in Kiryandongo district. This account from a member of the family makes no mention of the accident.

On Sunday evening, NRM secretary general, Justine Kasule Lumumba, issued a statement saying that there was a fatal accident involving a Tata Lorry and a motorcyclist.

“On the evening of Saturday February 18th, 2017 while driving to his country home in Nwoya District, the Deputy Secretary General, Hon Richard Todwong, found a boda-boda cyclist who had just been knocked down by a Tata Lorry Registration No. 307 UDG at Chopelwor Village. The lorry sped off, leaving the injured cyclist by the road side. Unfortunately the boda boda rider passed on,” reads the statement in part.

Lumumba noted that Todwong acted as “a leader and responsible citizen” and pursued the truck. This, according to Lumumba, “necessitated Todwong to fire gun shots in the air to dispel by-standers as well as force the driver of the truck to stop.” The truck driver however continued running until they reached a roadblock mounted along the road by traffic police where the driver was arrested.

“It was while explaining to the police officers at the road block that the officers pointed to Hon Todwong blood stains on his trousers. So, we cannot establish at this moment whether he shot himself or was shot by someone else,” says Lumumba.





Glu district council goes ahead to implement the alcohol control ordinance

Gulu District council has rejected the proposal from the Trade and Industry Ministry to stay the implementation of the Alcohol Control Ordinance until September.

Councillors voted unanimously to continue implementing the ordinance to protect the health of their electorate in an extra Ordinary council meeting attended by the Ministry officials on Monday.

The Gulu District Alcohol Control ordinance regulates the manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol in Gulu district.  It also restricts time for opening of bars to between 5pm and 1 am. It also requires that the alcohol should be packaged in glass not less than 250 millilitres.

During the meeting, Richard Okot Okello, an Assistant Commissioner in the Trade and Industry told the council that the ordinance is subject to the World Trade Organisation regulations since it regulates packaging.

He told council that the ordinance creates technical barriers to trade with regional and international blocs including the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Central Africa (COMESA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He argued that unless revoked, Uganda risk being sued by member countries at the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization for failing to notify members of the coming trade barrier.

“Article 2 and 3 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) treaty requires all member countries to notify other World Trade Organization Members in due time of any technical barrier to trade. Uganda has not done this in the course of enacting this ordinance”, Okello said.

Okello also argued that the ordinance could also lead to the withdrawal of trade concessions with Uganda, something he described as unhealthy for the country’s economy. He asked Gulu district to go slow on the implementation of the ordinance as Uganda develops a nationwide approach to the problem of alcoholism by September.

However, none of the councilors supported his proposal. Simon Peter Oola, the Gulu LC V Vice Chairperson, said it was wrong for the Ministry to attempt to stay the implementation of the ordinance since it only affects locally manufactured gins.

He says World Trade Organization member countries can continue to trade normally with Uganda as imported gins are not affected by the ordinance.  Martin Mapenduzi Ojara, the Gulu LC V chairperson, says the district complied with all procedures and consulted other stakeholders before enacting the ordinance.

He says staying the implementation of the alcohol ordinance will set a bad precedence. He also said it would be selective justice to stay the implementation of the ordinance after impounding 307 cartons of alcoholic gins from some traders.

The council meeting attracted several members of civil society organizations, religious and cultural leaders who contributed to the enactment of the ordinance. Members of the public in the gallery occasionally flashed placards with various messages including “Long Live Gulu Leaders”, “Health before Profit”, “Stop Sachets Now. No Delays”, “Leaders Keep Your Promise” and No Sachets Waragi amongst others.