Lawyer denies fraud in Amuru land compensation

Lawyer B'tek Okot [M] and his clients in Gulu early this year. File photo

B’tek Okot, a lawyer at Oloya and Company Advocates in Gulu town who was last week held by police over alleged fraud and issuing fake legal documents, has denied any wrong doing.

Okot was held for hours at Gulu Central Police Station [CPS] on allegation that he doctored legal documents which he presented to Post Bank – Gulu branch to withdraw shillings 103 million.

The money was meant to compensate two locals of Lakang village in Amuru district whose land have been taken by government and offered to Madhavani group of companies for sugar cane growing.

The suspect – B’itek –, who’s out on police bond, accuses the Uganda Police Force in Gulu of witch-hunting him.

Speaking to TND News Uganda on Wednesday afternoon, Okot clarified that early this year he got instructions from John Oneka and one Oulanya whose land together with others were surveyed by government for the establishment of a sugar factory by the Madhvani group of companies in Amuru.

Okot says the duo needed legal assistance because their names were missing from the initial list generated by the leaders of Amuru Land Owners Association [ALOA].

He named the ALOA leaders who deleted his clients’ names as Ocan David, Omony Patrick, Okumu Patrick and Okwera James.

According to Okot, their investigations later unearthed that the leaders had used a white wash to erase the names of John Oneka and Oulanya and replaced with two other people.

These two people, according to counsel Okot were impersonating his true clients. Later, the ALOA leaders asked them [fake claimants as he says] to open two fraudulent bank accounts.

“Account number 1030008011163 was tagged on John Oneka and account number 103008011162 on James Oulnya respectively at Post bank branch in Gulu town,” Okot Bitek revealed.

“But in reality, the leaders of Amuru Land Owners’ Association intended that the money would be withdrawn by one Patrick Okumu and another John Oneka (not the real one) who actually did not use a national ID to open the account but a forged citizen ID,” he added.

As complainants’ lawyer, Okot says he then instituted a civil suit No.001 of 2018 and 002 of 2018 at Amuru Magistrate Court against the purported Oneka John and Okumu Patrick.

He added the two fraudulent accounts were frozen on orders of the Magistrate’s Court as the merit of the case was being determined.

“Judgment was given on the 29th day of August 2018 before his worship Joseph Angole of Amuru Magistrate’s Court in favor of the real John Oneka and James Oulanya and ordered that their monies in the sums of shillings 153 million and shillings 53 million respectively be recovered,” counsel Okot explained.

TND News Uganda understands from evidence before it that a court presided by His Worship Yunus Idiwalanga also of Amuru Magistrate’s Court later appointed a court bailiff in the names of Select Auctioneers and owned by Qurinus Ovongiwu with instructions to recover the money on behalf of the two complainants.

“I did not go to the bank. I did not touch the money; the bailiff recovered the money and my clients were paid,” Okot reiterated.

Why the arrest?

On that day – last Sunday when he was arrested, Okot says he was going about with his legal duties at the law firm and eventually got a call from a police officer named Okot Kasule asking him to report to Gulu Central police station.

“I arrived around 10 am and the officer told me a General Inquiry File – GEF 27/2018 has been opened against me by one Oneka John and Patrick Okumu over alleged fraud of their monies,” Okot narrates.

“The officer kept moving in and out of the station until about 4pm when i got furious and demanded to know what was going on only to be told that I was under arrest.”

At this point, Okot says he demanded to have a look at the file and the statements of the said persons, to his dismay it was the two men impersonating Oulanya and Oneka who registered the case.

According to Okot, he immediately made calls to the real Oulanya and Oneka who later arrived and made statements at Gulu CPS, exonerating themselves from any fraud which led to his release.

A court document on civil suit.
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