The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party on Friday evening slotted in Mr Justine Odong Obiya, as the alternative candidate to be nominated for the Omoro County by-election slated for May 26.
Mr Odong was at 3:45pm declared by Mr Moses Maboga, the Omoro District Returning Officer as the duly nominated candidate for the party to contest in the race to replace the former Speaker of Parliament, the late Jacob Oulanyah.
The FDC party leadership led by its Electoral Commission chairman, Mr Boniface Toterebuka, had earlier on booked Mr Denis Owani for nominations.
At 11:30AM, Mr Toterebuka together with Mr Patrick Polly Okin Ojara, the FDC’s chief campaigner for the Omoro County by-election said they had reached out to Mr Owani who allegedly said there were attempts to bribe him to quit the contest.
Hours later, Mr Okin told this reporter that they decided to slot in Mr Odong in the last minute after they failed to establish the whereabouts of Mr Owani a few moments to closure of nominations.
“We have identified a very potential candidate Mr Odong. Immediately after his nomination, we shall sit and plan to see how we shall be able to carry on with this election,” Mr Okin said shortly before the nomination of Mr Odong.
“Our previous aspirant was kidnapped and we have lost touch with him even after discussing with him a few hours ago. He is now in an unknown destination and we realized that we could no longer rely on him,” Mr Okin added.
Mr Okin accused the NRM party of trying to intimidate, bribe and scare away their candidate.
“They (NRM) are in here to buy whoever wants to contest. They attempted to buy our candidate. The abductors thought they would intimidate him by the abduction and they indeed intimidated him while asking him to step down,” he said.
However, Mr Denis Kidega, the NRM party chairman for Omoro District described the claims by the FDC party as baseless propaganda upon failing to ‘clean their house.’
“We should know that this is a lie and it is propaganda. They have failed to mobilize as a party and clean their internal mess, instead they are blaming it on others when they thought the contest would be an easy walk,” Mr Kidega said.
According to him, FDC failed to solve internal disagreements.
“We have not had any contact with Owani and we do not know what happened to him. If they claim that we tried we bribe their candidate, let them provide evidence on that”, he added.
On Thursday, police in Aswa River region said they were investigating the kidnap claims.
“We are following up the matter and if indeed it was a kidnap then we shall bring those who were involved to book,” Ms Damalie Nachuha, the Aswa River region police commander said.
She was however, quick to add that she had spoken to Mr Owani and confirmed that he was free and safe.
“What I am sure of is that, for now he is safe. We have reached out to him,” Ms Nachuha added.
Information this reporter gathered from the police in Omoro indicates that the candidate claimed that he was abducted by occupants in an unknown vehicle who had been trailing him.
“He claims they (kidnappers) caught up with him at Adida village in Omoro District but later abandoned him at Corner Kamdini in Oyam District,” Mr David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River region police spokesman told this reporter on phone.
“We do take matters of threats to life, including abductions seriously. Our territorial teams in Aswa and North Kyoga have interested themselves in the matter and opened inquiries to help prove or disprove the allegations,” Mr Ongom added.
Mr Odong and NRM flag bearer, Mr Andrew Ojok Oulanyah were the only two candidates nominated by closure of the exercise on Friday evening, bringing the total number of candidates to six.
The National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate flag bearer Mr Simon Toolit Akecha and Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) flag bearer Mr Oscar Kiiza as well as two other independent candidates were nominated on Thursday.
The two independent candidates are Mr Terrence Odonga (FDC-leaning) and Mr Jimmy Walter Onen (NRM-leaning).