OMORO, UGANDA: Denis Dick Owani, the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change – FDC candidate in the Omoro County By-elections refused to show up on the second and last day of the nomination exercise after reportedly being bribed shs 150m to withdraw from the race.
The development came a day after FDC on Thursday alleged that Owani had been kidnapped by unknown gunmen on Wednesday as he left Radio Rupiny where he had appeared on a political talk show.
Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the FDC Party President in a Thursday tweet alleged that Owani was kidnapped at about 8:30 pm saying this could be “the handwork of the usual suspect fearing the strength of FDC in this particular by-election.”
However, hours later on Thursday, Police said Owani was free and safe after reportedly being released by his ‘unknown kidnappers’. The party confirmed Owani’s ‘release’ and said he had been found and had spent the night at Kamdini Police Station for his safety.
On a fateful day, Owani was expected to show up for the Thursday nomination but was nowhere to be seen throwing the party into panic to find a substitute candidate who would hold the party ticket in the upcoming elections.
FDC on Friday afternoon confirmed Owani’s withdrawal from the race and fronted a new candidate for the Omoro County by-election. Justine Odong Obiya, the FDC chairperson in Omoro district was unveiled and nominated at the last minute and will hold the party’s flag in the May 26 elections.
The party however disputed claims that Owani had been bribed to pull out of the race and insisted that the “junta” who kidnapped him stole his academic papers and could not be nominated further.
“After the junta attacked, kidnapped Denis Owani &stole his nomination papers. we officially unveil Odong Justine as our Parliamentary candidate for Omoro county. He’s our district Chairman &Former LC3 Chairperson Koro SC Tochi county Omoro district,” FDC tweeted shortly after Odong’s nomination.
The Shs 150m Bribe offered to Owani
According to Philip Polly Okin Ojara, the FDC chief campaigning officer for Omoro, Owani was expected to be nominated at 3 pm on Thursday but was offered a bribe worth Shs150m to pull out of the race which he (Owani) told them (FDC) that he had refused the offer.
“I think the abductors thought they would, first of all, intimidate him by the abduction and indeed they actually intimidated him. They requested him to step down, they removed all his original documents,” said Ojara.
“You know these people are offering any amount of money so long as the candidate can accept to step down. According to him, he is saying that they have offered him Shs150m. So, we said if you had picked that money that would have been a different story altogether.”
But later, Ojara confirmed that Owani had pulled out of the race and that the FDC had chosen another person to carry the party’s flag. Ojara said Odong (the new candidate) had great potential to win the byelection, adding that the party was still strong in the district. FDC supporters accompanied Odong, the alternative candidate, to the nomination centre.
The Omoro county seat fell vacant with the death of Jacob Oulanyah L’okori, the former speaker of Parliament who succumbed to cancer early this year.
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