Wednesday January 3 2018

Fights, corruption rock Omoro



OMORO-There is no love lost between the Omoro District speaker, Mr Damasco Odongo, and LC5 councillor for Koro Sub-county, Mr Francisco Watdok Awori.

Last year in December, there was a brawl between Mr Awori and Mr Odongo which ended in a physical fight in full view of a district council meeting at the district headquarters.
Mr Awori attacked the district speaker accusing him of not giving him time to respond to the allegation of receiving Shs2.4 million by false pretense.

The money was meant for opening a community road in Odek Sub-county.
In the last financial year, Odek Sub-county was given Shs7.7 million under Community Access Road Funds, and only Shs5.3m was spent.

When tasked to explain the circumstances under which he received the cash, Mr Awori, who is also the secretary works and technical services, instead threw punches at Mr Odongo who is also the LC5 councillor for Lakwana Sub-county.
The two were only separated by the sergeant-at-arms.
Now, the district chairperson, Mr Peter Douglas Okello, is set to reconcile the two leaders who have been at loggerheads since the district became operational in 2016.

Mr Okello says the duo should focus on how best they can work as a team to develop the newly created district.

Omoro was carved out from Gulu District and it became operational in July 2016.
Mr Odongo said the reconciliation that Mr Okello is proposing should be between the council and Mr Awori, not him.

“It’s the council that demands for an explanation not me,” he said.
He added: “Within my powers as the speaker, Mr Awori has been suspended for two executive meetings and two full council meetings because of his action.”

Mr Awori told Daily Monitor in an interview that being thrown out of the council is denying the people of Koro a chance to be heard.

“I was not sent to the council to fight but I lost it all when the speaker (Mr Odongo) denied me a chance to defend myself,” he said. He, however, welcomed the move by the district chairman to reconcile them saying it will be a step ahead in ensuring that no one is denied services.
Referring to his suspension from the council, Mr Awori said he is trying to analyse the legal implication before he takes a step.

“I am pondering the next move of taking Mr Odongo to court, not as a speaker but as an individual,” he said.

The LC5 chairperson has now tasked the chief administrative officer to ensure the implicated politicians return the funds immediately so that they benefit the intended groups.
In October 2017, Gulu Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Capt Santos Okot Lapolo, ordered Mr Awori to return the missing cash within one month.

In June, 2017, Mr Awori was also accused of embezzling Shs5 million meant for Community Driven Development (CDD) for Koro Sub-county.

An audit report indicated that the money was withdrawn from one of the banks in Gulu Town after a ghost community group was formed.

According to the audit report, the money was withdrawn on December 14, 2016 from the ghost bank account by Mr Awori.

Mr Awori and Mr Odong were implicated in the scandal.
The two are alleged to have stolen a registration certificate and constitution of a local group and later used it to process the cash from the bank. The duo have accepted to refund the cash.