Poison claim springs to life at Oulanyah burial

Speaker of Parliament Anita Among (right) condoles with former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s father, Mr Nathan Okori, before Oulanyah’s burial  at his home in Ayomlony Village in Lalogi, Omoro District, yesterday. PHOTO / ALEX ESAGALA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Okori spoke moments after Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and Dr Jackson Orem from the Uganda Cancer Institute had attributed Oulanyah’s passing to cancer. Or—more accurately—tried to.

Mr Nathan Okori, the father of the former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah, yesterday reiterated the claim that his son was poisoned.

Mr Okori spoke moments after Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and Dr Jackson Orem from the Uganda Cancer Institute had attributed Oulanyah’s passing to cancer. Or—more accurately—tried to.

Mourners booed Dr Orem when he linked the former Omoro County lawmaker’s death to lymphoma, a type of cancer. 

This was in stark contrast to how Mr Okori’s revelation was greeted when he was asked to speak in the company of Democratic Party president Nobert Mao.

Bombshell dropped

“I am not mourning in vain,” Mr Okori said, adding: “I want to state clearly, Jacob Oulanyah was poisoned.”

Mr Okori was originally not supposed to address mourners who thronged Ajuri Primary School playgrounds in Ayomlony Village in Lalogi in their thousands.

The official burial programme had Dr Opiyo Oloya—Oulanyah’s cousin, who was bedside with him during his last days in Seattle, USA—speaking after Dr Orem.

Mr Okori had only been okayed to welcome mourners, with Oulanyah’s eldest son—Andrew Ojok—penciled in to make a speech on behalf of the family.

Ms Santa Alum Ogwang, the Oyam District Woman MP, who is also a family member, confirmed this development.

“Mzee is right now too weak, he can’t walk easily and can’t speak easily due to the bereavement,” she revealed, adding: “This, to us, is understandable because he needs more comfort than being exposed to emotional speeches.”

Mr Okori’s exclusion from the burial programme had been treated as a move by the national organising committee (NOC) to gag him.

This was after he told Daily Monitor hours after his son’s passing had been confirmed that poison played a prominent role.

It appeared as if the NOC was set to get its wish. But, on Wednesday, Mr Olara Otunu said even if Mr Okori wished to repeat the same accusations, he should not be blocked by anybody since he is the father of the deceased.

“Let no body come in to block Oulanyah’s father from saying what he has basis for, Mr Otunu said.

He added: “And we should also, in the same vein, not add anything to his claim.”

On March 25, President Museveni said police would investigate Ugandans who made claims that the former Speaker was killed.

“Police are going to come and ask you to tell us because you seem to have information. We cannot go on with this indiscipline. It’s not constructive at all, especially from some people who are educated and claim to be leaders. We are going to go for them,” Mr Museveni said.

‘Investigate claims’

But Mr Anthony Akol, the Acholi Parliamentary Group chairperson, asked the government to interest itself into investigating the claims by Mr Okori instead of issuing intimidating comments.

Mr Akol asked the Vice President, Ms Jessica Alupo, to tell the President to pick interest in the allegations and have investigation done.

“Don’t arrest people but rather investigate the cause of death,” Mr Akol appealed following Mr Museveni’s previous threat to arrest people who pedaled the poisoning narrative.

While addressing mourners in Omoro yesterday, Mr Francis Emuna, Oulanyah’s brother, revealed that some people in government had blocked him from donating his organ to Oulanyah in order to save him.

Upon undergoing all the necessary medical examinations which proved that his blood matched that of his older brother, Mr Emuna said he was stopped from donating the requisite organ.

“We saw the winds and what happened here today. Whoever stopped me from donating my organ to save my brother, my brother is still alive,” Mr Emuna said.

Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo used his speech to rebuke public claims that Oulanyah was poisoned.

“People have been claiming that government is hiding information about the death of Oulanyah. Others even demanded that we take pictures with Oulanyah so that they can see. Those of you who know what killed Oulanyah, you come and tell us,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said.

Justice Owiny-Dollo added that there would be a general meeting today to discuss several issues in the family.

“It is what we are going to sit for a meeting to discuss the claims of Oulanyah’s father because he says the deceased told him certain things,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said.

Compiled by Tobbias Jolly Owiny, Marko Taibot & Michael Ojok