Last Updated on: 27th April 2023, 09:23 pm
Lira, April 27, 2023: Christians of the deregistered Lira Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG Lira Limited) are vowing to defend their property with their last drop of blood.
They also say PAG Uganda Limited including Bishop Joel Muaklo does not own a single property.
“We are very devastated, we are going through mental stress and emotion distress and panic because we feel anytime our property shall be unjustly and unfairly grabbed as a result of a ruling we believe is unfair, our Churches independently own their property, nor PAG Uganda Limited, PAG Lira Limited or Bishop Joel Mukalo owns anything,” a tensed Peter Okello who’s a Christian in Ireda, Lira City East Division told TND News.
Their sentiments come a few days after TND News published an authoritative investigative piece that poke holes into a ruling by Justice Musa Ssekaana of the High Court civil division in the case of PAG Uganda Limited (now defunct PAG Lira Limited) and Uganda Registration Services Bureau(URSB).
Among the controversial Judicial issue noted was that Justice Ssekaana advised PAG Uganda Limited to file for “consequential orders” and appear before him, a practice that legal experts have since raised their eyebrows on. A copy of a letter to this effect was secured by the investigative bureau of this publication.
It should be recalled that in 2015, Pentecostal Assemblies of God Limited dragged PAG Lira Limited and Uganda Registration Services Bureau to Court in Civil Suits Nos. 97 & 290 of 2015 asking the Court to deter it from using such a similar name.
Consequently, Court asked URSB to deregister PAG Lira Limited and the latter acted in the affirmative. Now, concerned Christians say they are disturbed why the issue of the property was “smuggled” in the ruling of Justice Musa.
How the events unfolded
Zephaniah Okori is a retired civil servant and an elder who has been in the service of the Lord for decades and has been a custodian of the vast property of Christians including for the deregistered Pentecostal Assemblies of God Lira. He approached TND News to put this matter into context.
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According to Mzee Okori, it was around August 2022 that Christians who independently own their land through their different Churches discovered that Pentecostal Assemblies of God Limited had listed their properties as those which they (PAG Uganda Limited), Bishop Joel Mukalo and another deregistered company PAG Lira Limited own.
He narrated that having sensed danger and an imminent illegal seizure of their property which is independently owned by Churches, over 300,000 Christians across the Lango sub-region were prompted to nominate Julius Peter Otim, Sam Ojok, Milton Okello, Charles Ouma and Simon Peter Ogei to file a case on their behalf against PAG Uganda Limited to stop them from claiming ownership of their property
He further said the case was proceeding well, however to their shock and chagrin, they discovered that Justice Musa Ssekaana had issued orders that all their properties belong to PAG Uganda Limited yet the over 300,0000 Christians were never a party to the case to which Ssekaann issued the order on Joel Mukalo, PAG Lira Limited and PAG Uganda Limited nor did he tasked PAG Uganda Limited to show proof of ownership of the said property.
According to the retired civil servant, Justice Musa has never come to the ground or convened a locus to ascertain who are the real people in possession of these properties
Christine Ajok, a treasure in one of the Churches that used to belong to PAG Lira Limited in Angwetangwet, says as Christians they also discovered that some people were being ferried from Kampala to come and evict them.
According to her, they were never given any notice and they are not a party to the care which the orders are arising from to evict them.
Just like Ajok, many of these Christians from independent Churches say neither PAG Uganda Limited nor Joel Mukalo or the nonexistent company has ever contributed any coin to their properties.
Ajok who couldn’t control her tears during the entire interview, said it is unbelievable that after voluntarily sacrificing all that they could including land and their financial resources, but above all their innocent faith and love for God, they instead get paid back by injustice and by being bound to a Court proceeding that they were never a party to.
“It is a terrible life we are living in and under, our children are equally terrified, like in my case my grandfather sacrificed land to construct a Church in which I and my congregates fellowship from, now I can’t leave home for fear that any time these people might come and take away my ancestral land purporting it to be their property,” she cries amidst her assertive narrative to TND News.
She said some Christians have now left their home and have resorted to sleeping at their Churches because they are ready to protect and die for their land resulting in suffering and insecurity.
To add more salt to injury, Leoben Oburo, a born-again Christian of the registered PAG Lira Limited who prays from Ogor in Otuke district but is also an expert in Constitutional law says to the best of his legal knowledge, Joel Mukalo was supposed to be one of the witnesses of PAG Lira Limited in the case between PAG Uganda Limited and URSB which was at the High Court.
He opined that Justice Ssekana did not allow him (Mukalo) the opportunity and instead proceeded with the case ex-parte against PAG Lira Limited. He described this legal decision as “a miscarriage of justice”.
“And the fact that he went on to rule the case in favour of PAG Uganda Limited and asked it to file a consequential order to claim for properties yet the case between PAG Uganda Limited and PAG Lira Limited and URSB was a dispute about names, leave a lot to be desired,” he said.
“Leave among other orders, but the more annoying is that: he ruled that properties in possession of PAG Lira Limited owned by PAG Uganda Limited should be returned to PAG Uganda Limited. PAG Lira Limited did not know any property and did not own any property owned by PAG Uganda Limited. PAG Lira Limited does not own any property,” he discerns, adding that it is the more reason Christians have taken it upon themselves.
Oburo added that the properties in possessing of PAG Lira Limited are nullity and repugnant because Christians are the ones in possession of these lands having received them as donations from fellows, their grandparents, and other relatives or having purchased the same using their sweat and many of these Christians are still praying from their homes also being claimed by PAG Uganda Limited.
Born-again Colonel talks to TND News
Col. Francis Ongia, who is among the first followers of the born-again faith in Lira, said PAG Uganda Limited never owned any property in Lira because it never contributed any money towards the construction of Churches.
He explained that when he first came to Lira in 1989 as a government worker, he was already a born-again Christian. But at that time he said, there were no born again Churches where he could pray from.
He noted that since there were no born-again Churches in Lira; he then joined a group of people who were praying in a classroom at VH Public School. “It’s where those people mobilized the money that was used to build Lira Pentecostal Church (LPC).
“It is the Christians who were praying from VH Public School that raised money which was used for building Lira Pentecostal Church without any support or donation from those who are now claiming the ownership,” Col. Ongia asserted.
He reminisces that it is indeed flabbergasting for somebody who never contributed anything towards the Church construction to come and evict poor Christians who sold their chickens and goats and used the money for building a Church where they can worship the Lord.
Efforts to speak to the counsel of PAG Uganda Limited, M/S ALP Advocates were futile by the time of filing this story as their known cell office lines went unanswered.
The publication couldn’t also identify the counsel for the now-defunct PAG Lira Limited by press time.