GULU. Parish chiefs, whose services were terminated by Gulu District authorities in 2002, have started a process of selling off the district land in Gulu town to recover their benefits.
Already, auctioneers - M/s Select Auctioneers and Court Bailiff- have been engaged to sell some of the district property to recover Shs4.8 billion.
“Not all the nine plots will be sold,” Mr Quirinius Ovongiu, the M/s Select Auctioneers and Court Bailiff representative, said last Friday.
“If they can pay Shs1.5 billion, we can give them (district) time so that they can pay in instalments every financial year,” he said.
This case springs from the termination of 89 chiefs, according to one account, because they lacked academic qualifications. The chiefs argued then that their termination was unfair.
In 2003, they sued Gulu District Local Government, demanding compensation.
In 2012, Justice Remmy Kasule awarded the ex-chiefs Shs2.1 billion in damages after ruling that the district acted unfairly since it did not follow the proper procedures.
In 2015, the district paid only Shs742 million, money it diverted from the construction of Awach Health Centre IV theatre.
Several attempts for the chiefs to get the balance have been futile since. The former chiefs thus asked for Shs4.8 billion, inclusive of accumulate interest.
A section of district councillors has in the past frustrated the former chiefs’ attempts to sell the district land although the Assistant Registrar of the High Court in Gulu, Mr Henry Twinomuhwezi, ordered that the land be sold to compensate the former chiefs in 2016.
According to one of the lawyers representing the chiefs, Ms Shamim Amollo of Amollo & Co. Advocates, her clients want to use their money for development projects.
“The district should pay the chiefs (our clients) their money since they served the country diligently,” she said yesterday.
The Gulu District chairperson, Mr Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, said the former parish chiefs should stay the execution of the court order to enable the district to negotiate with them.
Mr Ovongiu said they are open to negotiations.
According to Mr Mapenduzi, the representatives of the former chiefs allegedly agreed to reduce their demand from Shs4.8 billion to Shs3 billion.
Mr Mapenduzi said the district’s goal is to ensure its movable and immovable property is protected.
The Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Milton Kato, declined to comment on the matter, saying he needs to establish the circumstances under which the district terminated the services of the parish chiefs.
“I cannot respond to this because I am a new CAO, give me time,” he said.