Thursday April 10 2014

Lira church blocks Mao from speaking

A placard pinned on the gate of Lira

A placard pinned on the gate of Lira Pentecostal Church where DP leader Norbert Mao was temporarily blocked last Sunday. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH 

By Bill Oketch

Believers in Lira District last Sunday blocked Democratic Party president Norbert Mao from entering a church after he was mistaken for somebody else.

The incident unfolded when Mr Mao stormed Lira Pentecostal Church (LPC) to address the congregation about peace, reconciliation and forgiveness but the guards stopped him at the gate.

According to the church’s spokesperson, Mr Johnson Adupa, the guards thought the DP leader was Bishop Franco Onaga, the secretary general of Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Uganda.
Bishop Onaga is accused of fuelling conflict in Lira Pastorate, a claim he denies.

Witnesses said Mr Mao was manhandled before he pulled out his identity card to prove he was harmless.
“Mao was humiliated the moment he reached the gate,” Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal, who was with him, said.

Mr Mao was later allowed to enter the church although he was denied opportunity to address the congregation.
However, when contacted on Wednesday, Mr Adupa said the DP leader was hesitant to be checked.

“When he reached the gate, he was supposed to present himself for checking which the gate people were demanding, but he refused. He was asking a lot of questions and he was hesitant,” he said.

“But when we found out that he was the DP president, we allowed him to sit in the church but not to address the Christians,” Mr Adupa added.
Mr Mao reportedly forgave the Christians, saying they did not know what they were doing.

“When we explained to him, he forgave us because he is a person who understands. We also thanked him for that,” Mr Adupa said.
The church has in the past stopped journalists from accessing the premises while two were held hostage on Wednesday as they attempted to take pictures of the building.