OTUKE, (UG): The territorial police in North Kyoga Region are holding one Okwir Patrick a 45-year-old church member on allegations of stealing money meant for the construction of a local church in Adyerakonya village, Adwari Sub-county in Otuke district.
President Museveni during his visit to the northern district in May this year made a donation of shs 20m through Adwari Sub-county chairman Obong Opio as a contribution towards the completion of the new Adyerakonya Church of Uganda building.
According to North Kyoga Police Spokesperson, SP Jimmy Patrick Okema, the incident is believed to have occurred on the 28th of July 2023 at an unknown time at Adyerakonya village where the church is located.
Okema says a statement has been recorded from church leaders and according to them, they recovered ten million shillings which have NOT yet been handed over to the police as an exhibit.
It is alleged that on the 18th of May 2023, faithfuls at Adyerakonya Church of Uganda requested financial support from President Museveni to enable them to complete the construction of the church building, and the president honoured their request by releasing 20 million shillings to Okwir who is a member of the construction committee of the church through an officer of state house who is yet to be identified by the police.
“Unfortunately, Okwir is alleged to have spent an amount totalling Ugx 12,450,000/-for his personal interest without informing the church members,” SP Okema told journalists on Tuesday, adding that “A case of theft has been registered, the suspect has already been arrested and is in police custody now.
Okwir speaks out
When approached for a comment on the allegations of stealing the church money, Okwir denied the claims and asserted that when he went to pick the money from State House, he did not count it and though it was the shs20m requested for, but he found only Shs10m when he sat to count it at Namayiba Bus Terminal in Old Kampala.
“When I was finally given Shs20 million, I put the money in the bag and immediately we went to Namayiba Bus Terminal. On arrival at the bus park in Kampala, I checked and found that I was only having Shs10 million in the bag,” Okwir told this reporter.
The Church La leader, Mr Opio Moses who lodged a complaint before police said Mr Okwir borrowed Shs70,000 from them, claiming he needed it for transport to Kampala to meet employees at a company where he used to work.
“But later on, the church realised that Okwir was called directly [by] the State House. When he returned, he again came to us and said the money [we requested from the President] had already been given to him, but did not disclose the amount he got,” Mr Opio said.
The accused, according to the lay leader, spurned calls to hand over the cash, telling them that he was headed to report a case at Adwari Police Station.
He reportedly bypassed the police, and headed towards Lira City and he was on Friday intercepted at Ngetta Ginnery.
Upon arrest, law enforcers the same night searched his house and, according to Mr Opio, they recovered Shs7.6 million.
“We appeal to the government to deal with him according to the law of the soil,” Mr Opio said of the man they turned into police custody on Saturday.
The Shs7.6m and an additional Shs2.2 million that a relative brought upon Mr Okwir’s arrest were handed over to Adyerakonya Church of Uganda officials.
Meanwhile, police said inquiries into the matter are ongoing and more suspects are expected to be summoned to aid in the ongoing investigation.