Lira CAO remanded over corruption

Lira District CAO Ben Ogwette Otim being led to court by security officers at the Anti-Corruption Court where he was charged and remanded over alleged abuse of office and corruption on May 16, 2023. PHOTO/JULIET KIGONGO

The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala has charged and jailed the Lira District Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) over alleged abuse of office and corruption.

Ben Ogwette Otim, 59, was Tuesday afternoon arraigned before Chief Magistrate Moses Nabende, who formally read the charges to him. He however denied the charges slapped against him by the state.

Prosecution led by David Mugamba told court that investigations in the case are complete, asking for a hearing date.

Through his lawyers led by Emmanuel Wamimbi, Otim applied for bail reasoning that he was arrested on May 15 while he suffers from a heart attack. However, this did not persuade the Chief Magistrate who remanded him until May 18 for hearing of the bail application.

Prosecution alleges that between June 2020 and July 22, 2021, Otim at Lira District Local Government in Lira District, being employed as CAO, in abuse of the authority of his office- did arbitrary acts prejudicial to the interest of his employer to wit refused or neglected to communicate to the District Land Board and other relevant authorities, contents of letters from the Local Government permanent secretary.

The said letters were halting all district land board transactions on land falling within the jurisdiction of Lira City until government determines how such land and other properties were to be shared between the city and district.

It is alleged that when Lira city was created out of Lira District Local Government, conflict emerged over the sharing of properties including land between the two jurisdictions.

The CAO received letters guiding how the issue would be handled but refused to communicate the same to the district land board.

It is further alleged that consequently, public land in Lira continued to be fraudulently disposed of by the district officials in connivance with the District Land Board. The land has different developments by the government including schools, railway, hospitals and green spaces among others which may be destroyed due to the chief administrative officer misconduct.

In May 2019, Cabinet approved the creation of 15 cities including Lira City and the Ministry of Local Government has since given guidance on how the transitions should be handled.