Balaalo Eviction: DP loyalist Okello Onguti, 11 others granted bail in criminal trespass case

Former Aswa County Parliamentary Candidate, Patrick Okello Onguti (2nd L) and the co-accused at Gulu Magistrate Court on Tuesday 28th 2023 (Photos/David Okema/DailyExpress)

GULU, (UG): The Chief Magistrate of Gulu has today, November 28th, bailed out twelve (12) people grappling charges of criminal trespass and conspiracy to commit a felony in the highly tense Balaalo eviction saga.

The 12 suspects include the former Democratic Party candidate for Aswa County, Patrick Okello Onguti, Chris Owen Okoya, the chairperson of Owalo Subounty in Gulu district, and the other ten locals.

The group was last week on Thursday, November 23, arrested by Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers from Palaro Sub-County on the allegation that they entered illegally into a cattle farm belonging to one Enoch.

On the day of arrest, Onguti, Okoya, and others allegedly entered and invaded Enoch’s cattle farm in Palaro sub-county intending to drive out close to 150 heads of cattle on grounds that the animals were destroying peoples’ crops.

They invaded Enoch’s farm two days ahead of the November 25th deadline set by President Museveni for the government agency to start evicting non-compliance cattle Keepers, Balaalo from Northern Uganda.

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Enoch, (centre) one of the Balaalo cattle keepers in Palaro Subcounty, Gulu District (Photo/David Okema/DailyExpress)

The state prosecutor, Ms Kyomugisha Kurusumu told the court that they verified the document and sureties of the accused and were substantial, but urged for a cash bail arguing that the case is a sensitive matter to deter the accused from interfering with the court process.

However, the defense team led by Counsel Tonny Kitara invited the Court to consider the matter carefully given that the accused had stayed in detention for more than 48 hours and prayed for a non cash bail.

Patrick Okello Onguti (R) and the co-accused at Gulu Magistrate Court on Tuesday 28th 2023 (Photos/David Okema/DailyExpress)

Said Barigye, the Chief Magistrate, read the ruling on the bail application, issuing a non-cash fee of Ugshs 5 million bail for each accused person and a non-cash fee of Ugshs 10 million for each surety.

“I want to caution you to maintain peace in your community as you go home. In case you don’t obey the ruling, the bail may be cancelled,” Barigye warned.

The case has been preferred for hearing on Dec 19, 2023.

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Meanwhile, on Monday, November 27th, five suspects were given police bonds for lack of evidence in a similar charge. 

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