OP-ED

SHACU weaponized to settle political and personal scores in Lira City

The two people handcuffed are the suspects; right is Licra City Businessman, Okello Lawrence (Photo/Handout)

State House Anti-Corruption Unit weaponized to settle political and personal scores in Lira City – a case study of the arrest of Mr. Okello Lawrence, an industrious businessman of Lira City

Much as the case is in court, I feel compelled as a citizen of Lira City, Lango Sub Region and this country Uganda, to convey my findings following my research and consultation with relevant bodies such as the Ministry of Lands, and members of the legal fraternity in regards to land acquisition.

First and foremost, the land in question is situated in Plot 4A, Station Road at Railways Quarters in Lira City East Division. The land is located at the end of the alleged forest reserve, and it is bordered from the West by one called Tolbert with a title. From the South by Mukwano Industries and other title holders.

Secondly, the title of the land in question was not processed by our brother Okello Lawrence as the first title holder but purchased it from someone.

Quick question to the above. Why did the State House Anti-Corruption Unit leave out other title holders in the same area and move to target Okello Lawrence, who is at the end?

In addition, Okello Lawrence purchased this land and according to the guidance from the legal gurus I contacted, Okello Lawrence who bought the land is *ALREADY PROTECTED BY THE CASE LAW DOCTRINE TERMED AS “BONA FIDE PURCHASER FOR VALUE WITHOUT NOTICE OF FRAUD”.*

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The simple meaning of the above case law doctrine is that the purchaser of the land relies upon in the case of allegation of fraud, and therefore you can’t punish and deny the purchaser the right to own a property he has bought or purchased, and legally, he can’t deny him interest in the land.

In any case, this matter should have been pursued by the National Forestry Authority through the civil courts of law and if Mr Okello Lawrence is found to have bought and invested in the Forest Reserve illegally then his title would be cancelled and ordered to remove his investment from the land but not to incarcerate him.

State House Anti-Corruption Unit, didn’t take into account to look at the process of this title acquisition by Mr. Okello Lawrence, and in any case, they should have made him a state witness, but rather, they opted to charge him as a criminal.

I have also got information that, there are some officers from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, who are now on the payroll of some big politician of Lira City who pay them at short notice to come, causing unnecessary tension to the people of Lango, arrest them on fabricated charges and these officers I have got their names as DAIP Charles Mugerwa and Arinaitwe Samuel who calls himself as the legal officer of State House Anti-Corruption Unit.

From my findings, I have noted that Mugerwa and Arinaitwe have partnered with criminals in the Lango Sub Region who equally have land-related complaints about them being their so-called whistle-blowers and guide them to disturb the people of Lango and Lango Sub Region has now become their extorting ground.

My findings have also been that Mugerwa and Arinaitwe are now using the Lira Police to arrest and arraign people in the Lira Magistrate’s Court instead of the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala and accordingly, I am notifying the DPC and RPC North Kyoga Region of this injustice and I shall inform the Inspector General of Police and Director CIID accordingly. Examples of cases already being handled by the Lira Magistrate’s Court are that of Mr Okello Lawrence and Hon Ojuka Anthony, etc.

This same Mugerwa Charles has lots of issues to do with extortion of money as seen by a complaint written by Ivan Kamuntu Ssemakula to HE the President dated 27th November 2023 as attached.

People of Lango, you will recall that the same Mugerwa Charles and Arinairwe Samuel collected over 4000 land files and dumped them at their offices in Kampala, denying our people land services for over 1 year. These files were recently returned to Lira District following the intervention of the Hon. Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

In view of the above, I feel the action of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit is aimed at sabotaging the economic growth and development of the Lango Sub Region as well as frustrating the business community.

The record also shows that many of the cases investigated by Mugerwa and Arinaitwe are collapsing in the Courts because of lack of evidence since they always conduct investigations based on hearsay from those who facilitate them. I also appeal to those who have won cases to pursue Mugerwa and Arinaitwe personally for damages caused to them.

Besides, arresting Okello Lawrence, one of our renowned industrious businessmen of Lira City who is doing his best to develop Lira given the nature of investment he has put ranging from over 200 fuel stations across the country, trading in hotels and estates and he employs over 1000 youth of Lango Sub Region. In addition, the record available from the Uganda Revenue Authority indicates that Mr. Okello Lawrence pays taxes to the government of Uganda to the tune of over 7 billion per month.

I am thankful to President Museveni for creating the State House Investor Protection Unit, and accordingly, I am going to report this matter of economic sabotage of our local investors of the soil to them. In addition, I am also going to channel my formal complaints to HE, the President of the Republic of Uganda, about the injustices being perpetuated on our people of Lango.

I am therefore putting Brig. Henry Isoke, Head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, on notice that the Lango Sub Region is tired of the economic sabotage by your staff (Mugerwa and Arinaitwe). I call upon you to restrain them, withdraw fabricated charges against Okello Lawrence, and release him unconditionally.

I also appeal to Brig. Henry Isoke to stop his office from being used to settle personal and political scores in Lango. Otherwise, I, as an activist, am now terming your office as the State House Personal and Political Anti-Corruption Unit.

I also appeal to Brig. Henry Isoke to withdraw Mugerwa and Arinaitwe from investigating any related cases of corruption in the Lango Sub Region. In any case, if there are other matters of corruption to be investigated, then you should send a new and independent team. I hear the same Mugerwa was beaten in Masaka over his same way of investigating matters and was saved by the RDC which you know very well.

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I, therefore, call upon all right-thinking Lango to condemn this action by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit with the contempt it deserves and accordingly inform you to stay tuned. Should they not act, then I will call for a peaceful demonstration to express our disgust at how the economy and development of Lango are being sabotaged by the State Institution that is supposed to uphold the spirit of constitutionalism as they exercise their duties.

*”For God and My God”*
The writer is a concerned activist from Lira City, Mob: +256782346922



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