Lawyer arrested for building in wetland

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What you need to know:

  • Mr David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River region police spokesman, yesterday told Daily Monitor that the suspect had been released on bond

A lawyer based in Gulu District has been arrested by security authorities over allegations of encroaching on a wetland at Go-Down Village, Techo Parish, Bardege Layibi Division in Gulu City.
Mr David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River region police spokesman, yesterday told Daily Monitor that the suspect had been released on bond.
Mr Ongom noted that the accused is expected to return to police on February 8 although no charges have been preferred against him.
This newspaper has established that the arrest stemmed from allegations of establishing illegal structures within a wetland.

Mr Peter Okwii, the Bardege Layibi Division deputy Resident City Commissioner, told this newspaper that the suspect became a wanted man after declining to heed warnings against erecting illegal structures.
“In our operations to get rid of wetland encroachers in the city, [he] ignored lawful orders, which led to his arrest. When other wetland encroachers accepted and left the wetlands, they started to return to reclaim the spaces once they saw [he] was not leaving,” he said.
Mr Okwii also alleged that the lawyer organised a group of young people intending to attack the RCC while the operation was being effected.
“We got intelligence that Mr Lajul was organising a group of young goons most of whom are people who wash cars in wetlands and his interest was to attack the RCC,” Okwii said.

In a January 9 letter seen by this publication and addressed to the lawyer by the Gulu City Town Clerk, Mr Isaiah Tumwesigye, he was asked to relocate all the illegal structures he had constructed on the wetland.
“Take notice that failure to comply with the above directives shall result in the city council or any other person authorised by law to take all the necessary steps against you to ensure that the above directives are complied with,” the letter reads in part.
You are given 21 days from the date of receipt of this notice within which to comply or appeal, this improvement notice comes into effect from the date of receipt thereof, it further states.

Our attempts to speak to the suspect were futile since he could not answer our repeated calls.
However, he had earlier on posted on his known Facebook page that his arrest was politically-motivated by the Gulu RCC. 
“She plotted to coordinate with other security agencies to smoke me out, that is why even police who arrested me were from Lira and CPS Gulu…” he posted.

Findings from the City’s Natural Resources Department carried out in the area indicated that he illegally degraded the wetland by creating fish ponds and constructing cottages on Layibi Wetland contrary to the National Environment Act 2019. Section 55.
A January 3 report from the department signed by Mr Michael Christopher Ocan, the City’s environment officer, indicates that the original wetland vegetation had been reclaimed and illegal constructions (cottages and shade structures) had been established on it.