kole

Kole chair named in sexual harassment, nepotism and wetland abuse

(Last Updated On: 11 October 2022)

By a Council Resolution dated May 31, 2022, Kole District Local Government came up with the list of members of the District Service Commission, comprising four members, including ‘disabled’ Abongo Mike.


By TND News Team

Kole – October 7, 2022: Kole district Local Government could soon lose millions if petitioners against illegal recruitment to the district service commission go ahead with their planned quest for justice in the High Court.

Kole is a district in Lango West. For the first time since inception, it is getting into the spotlight over more than five critical issues, all being blamed on its political father, the LC5 chairman, Andrew Moses Awany.

From sexual stalking (harassment) to nepotism, fencing off and abuse of wetlands and disobeying lawful court orders, Awany political career is “quite a distinct one,” says a senior member of Kole district local government.

 To begin with, TND News understands that Awany and his RDC, Caroline Angolere have had fierce confrontations on matters of wetlands after he fenced off a wetland he has now reclaimed to be his.

In an interview, the RDC accepted, admitting that their working relationship with the district chairman “has been well”. “But because of wetlands, our relationship has declined,” she added.        

A letter dated August 16, 2022, by Oleny Geoffrey, the environment officer of Kole to the District Natural Resources Officer of Kole, reads: “In a bid to curb down the level of encroachment and degradation of wetlands in the district, the office of the Resident District Commissioner, District Natural Resources Officer and Environment Officer has started to carry out enforcement on wetland degraders in the district.”

The letter continued that “this is in line with the presidential directive that all wetland encroachers and degraders should be evicted….”

“During the enforcement, one suspect working for Andrew Moses Awany was arrested while he was planting boundary mark trees locally known as “oligo” in the wetland fenced by Andrew Moses Awany,” Olweny said, in the same letter, a copy of which was sent to Kole LC5 chairman, Awany.

Quoting the Law, he said the degraders, with the aid of the district chairperson, contravenes Section 55 of the National Environmental Act 2019 which clearly states restrictions on wetland encroachment.

In his recommendation, he advised that politicians should stop interfering in matters that concern wetlands and other environmental resources’ conservation.

He also recommended that part of the wetland fenced by Awany Moses Andrew should be opened to allow the community free access to the wetland.

On Friday, October 7, 2022, TND News attempts to reach Awany for comments, concerning the recommendations were futile. He did not pick up our repeated phone calls. We were, however, told, he was attending an important meeting.

He [Awany] and the RDC are also in total disagreement on how corruption should be handled in the district, especially on the projects like the Emyooga and Parish Development Mode, and the diversion of funds.

It is worth noting that early this year, Kole MPs unearthed to the public how millions of funds for Emyooga were being stolen and diverted by some leaders in the district.

Sexual harassment and assault claims 

Recently, TND News started investigating claims of sexual harassment by the LC5 on the former district executive member and woman Councillor of Okwerodot, Scovia Adupa and a widow in Ayer sub-county.

Preliminary findings by the publication show that the woman Councillor, including the RDC, is sexually harassed. For Adupa, it led to her removal from the District Executive Committee (DEC).

She said on March 3, 2022, the chairman “illegally removed me from the DEC”. “He was right to do so and I thank God,” Adupa told this publication.

“He coerced me many times to accept his advances and I could not admit it as a married woman. Sometimes you leave all to God to decide.”

According to her, her husband knew about Awany’s desires but kept it cool, adding, “My husband supported me and we are moving on”.

As a DEC member, she said you are “too close to the chairman”.

Sharon Lamunu, a councillor admitted that women of Kole District Local Government are sexually being harassed. Asked who’s doing it, she responded: “The issue of sexual harassment for the women of Kole, yes we are being sexually harassed and if you want something they must first sleep with you and they give you. If you reject sleeping with someone, the only thing against you should be a fight and once you are fought as a woman you know there are certain angles that we can hardly reach…”

Responding to a sexual harassment claim against her colleague, Scovia Akullu Adupa, Lamunu said she [Adupa] has evidence. She, specifically informed the Council that the LC5 Chairman sexually harassed her.

“She told us and we intervened,” adding: “Adupa and the Chairman started their work very well”. Lamunu wants the government to intervene to save the women and local leaders of Kole.

“Anything that tarnishes the image of Ugandans, especially women, I am not part and parcel of it,” she added.

Last month, Awany allegedly harassed a widow after his goat was apprehended for eating her crops.

Scovia Omara of Amola village, Telela parish in Ayer sub-county said: “On September 9, 2022, he [Awany] broke into my house and removed his goat I had detained for eating up my maize from the garden.”

She said Awany did so after she had gone to buy a rope to tie the goat.


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In 2016, she also said he caught the now chairman’s cow in his garden and she was beaten. “I was hospitalized for one year at Lira Regional Referral Hospital and spent shs400, 000 on treatment.”

“I reported the [recent] case to the local leaders who told me ‘anything concerning the chairman it is above them”. The OC of Apii Police Outpost came [to my home] and recorded my file [statement] to Kole CPS,” she added.

On September 16, 2022, the widow said she went to Kole CPS to follow up on her file and she was not satisfied with everything. She told the publication “something is being done to frustrate justice”.

Legal expert gives guidance 

Prima Kwagala, the Executive Director of Women Probono Initiative said sexual harassment is a crime and against labour laws in Uganda.

Kwagala, in an interview, added: “I would advise those women to report to Police because the Police can investigate. Two, they can also report to labour officers at the district and they can make statements on duress.”

On the claim that the Kole district chairman dismissed Adupa from the DEC after she refused him, Kwagala said the chairman has “no legal jurisdiction to remove anyone”.  

“She [Scovia Adupa] can report to the Chief Administrative Officer who is not a political officer but charged with the mandate to take charge of the district affairs.”

Corruption  

There are also cases of corruption against the LC5 and executive on the construction of Kole town council-Bala to Akalo road. The 7km road is being constructed by GULSAN. There are reports that the executive and some local leaders are asking [have asked] for kickbacks.

Vincent Ojuka Tabliq, the Mayor of Bala town Council recently told this publication that the “construction started well and the speed is now slow”. He did not admit any case of corruption when asked. 

“The road is wide as in the Bill of Quantity (BOQ). The issue of corruption concerning the road is not there,” he said.

Nepotism in the District Service Commission 

Whereas it may be okay for the top manager to recruit relatives to the same public institution, equity is never served. In Kole, the chairman of the District Service Commission (DSC) is the father-in-law of the LC5.

Recently recruited was Acan Lydia, the daughter of the chairman of DSC who is the wife of the chairman of LC5. Acan is the town agent, of Western ward ‘A’ Akalo Town Council.

Another is Onyera Bonny, town agent of Bua Atyeno ward, Alito Town Council. He is the son of the chairman of DSC and brother-in-law of the chairman of LC5.

The in-law of Opiny, a member of the DSC also got the job. Abongo Jackie, the daughter of Abongo Angela Michael, a member of DSC is also the son of the brother-in-law of the LC5. He is working as a porter at Aboke health centre IV.

Chairman’s sister-in-law scooped the nursing officer’s post at Aboke Health Centre IV.

Kole PWDs representatives petition PSC

In a letter dated July 16, 2022, to the Secretary Public Service Commission, Kampala and copied to RDC, Resident Judge, Clerk to Council and their Lawyer, the two petitioners: Odyek George, the male PWD representative and Sarah Akello, female PWDs representative, the petition was against recruiting Abongo Mike as PWDs’ representative in the District Service Commission of Kole.

“…. the undersigned wish to address you as follows,” reads part of the petition, going detailed as below.

“That we (hereinafter jointly referred to as petitioners) are male and female adults of sound minds, members of the district local council of Kole district local government, and therefore well versed with the facts of the petition, and wish to address you…”

“That by council resolutions dated 31 May 2021, Kole district local government came up with the list of members of the District Service Commission, comprising four members including Adonyo Peter Geoffrey (chairperson), Okello Karmella, Opiny Francis and Abongo Mike as members.”

“Without the support of the district council, the LC5 Chairperson Awany Andrew Moses, by his own letters dated 4thand 9th August 2022 misguided your office that a one Abongo Mike is representative of people with disabilities, whereas not.”

The petition [ners] stated that as members and representatives of PWDs in Kole, we have never or at any one moment nominated the said Abongo to be nominated to represent the PWDs in the district service commission.

They added that the said Abongo Mike is and has never been a disabled person and as such, he could not be nominated and or approved to represent PWDs.

Petitioners also said the minute extract made on the resolution by the District Executive Committee sitting of August 28, 2021, never confirmed that the said Abongo Mike was being nominated as representative of PWDs.

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‘Disabled’ Abongo in a letter attached to Secretary of Public Service by the District Chairman.

What petitioners want

They want Abongo Mike disbanded from the District Service Commission with immediate effect. The PWDs representatives also want cause for physical medical examination of the said Abongo Mike by a competent medical board to determine his disability status.

They are ordering for fresh nomination and approval of the representative of PWDs in the District Service Commission, and lastly, should the Public Service Commission fail, they will file a suit against all parties to the High Court.

TND News has obtained Awany’s letter to the Public Service Commission dated August 9 2021 which was received on August 11, 2021, under the caption: “Notice of Confirmation for Abongo Mike PWD Representative in Kole District Service Commission.”

The said letter was informing the PSC that the “above said person was nominated to represent people with disabilities in the DSC of Kole as of recent nomination for your consideration”.


“The forms were filled in a hurry thus causing errors,” said Awany, who attached pictorial evidence of the “disabled Abongo” in his letter.


Further, the publication has a Court Order against the decision to have Abongo serve in the District Service Commission of Kole.

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Copy of the petition.

The petitioners, Ogwang Gilbert and Others got a Court Decree against Kole District Local Government, Ango Moses Ongom (Speaker) and Kole District Council (Respondents) at Lira High Court under Civil Suit No. 22 of 2022.

The Decree passed by Justice Isaac Muwata was made in the presence of Oyugi Onono Quirinus, Counsel for the Applicants (petitioners) and in the presence of 1st, 2nd and 3rd applicants and the presence of Susan Adong, the Principal Assistant Secretary for the 1st and 2nd Respondents.

It was ordered and decreed as follows:

“An order for mandamus issues compelling the 2nd Respondent and 1st Respondent’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to submit the name and representative files of nominees reconsidered by the council to the Public Service Commission for consideration of their appointments.”

“A declaration also doth issue that the actions of the 2nd Respondent regarding nominations by the DEC and unanimous council decision of March 31, 2022 recommending submission of names of new persons and representative to the 1st Respondent’s DSC to Public Service Commission for approval was illegal, irrational and procedurally wrong.”

With the legal services of Okwi & Co. Advocates, Kole District Councillors: Odyek George, Akello Sarah, Odongo Gilbert and Edule Michael have served the Secretary Public Service Commission with key captions, “Demand Notice/Notice of Intention to Sue” on August 15, 2022.

A Council Resolution dated May 31, 2022, Kole District Local Government came up with the list of members of the District Service Commission, comprising four members, including Abongo Mike.

“That being dissatisfied with the resolution, our clients and 8 others petitioned the High Court of Uganda at Lira, challenging the appointment of the hereinabove listed members vide H.C.MC No. 22 of 2021,” as per the petition.

“That consequently, the High Court of Uganda at Lira made a declaration that the appointment of the above listed persons by Kole District Local Government Council as members of the District Service Commission to the Public Service Commission for approval was illegal, irrational and procedurally improper.”

“That to our clients’ dismay, and in total disregard to the said Decree, Kole District Local Government has disobeyed the said Court order.”

The law firm, as decreed by Lira High Court wants Abongo disbanded from representing PWDs to the District Service Commission.

Okwi & Co. Advocates informed the PSC Secretary that “we have further instructions to petition the High Court in the event that the Commission fails to adhere to the Court order, definitely at your own costs.”

“The current vice chairman [Angor Moses] who was a council speaker in the previous administration made Kole to be dragged to Court and the current speaker, Odoch is also siding and being influenced by the chairman to make Kole get to court,” said a Councillor who asked not to be named.

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