Lira – 24, August 2020: Controversy and uncertainty is still hovering on the planned relocation of Lira district headquarters following the elevation of Lira Municipality to a city.
Lira city will now take over the assets of Lira district and by implication the district is obliged to migrate and install its headquarters in any of the sub-counties outside the city jurisdiction.
Lira district originally had nine sub-counties but it has reduced to six after Lira, Adekokowok and Ngetta sub-counties were annexed to Lira city. A day to the inauguration of Lira city, local leaders in Lira district took Mr. Raphael Magyezi, the minister of local government to Ogur sub -county headquarters where they have proposed to relocate the district headquarters.
Soon, there was a protest from local leaders and some councilors who hail from Erute County South on the relocation of the district headquarters to Ogur which is located in Erute County North.
Denis Owera, a councillor from Bar sub-county and Bernard Adoko, the LCIII chairperson of Amach sub-county openly opposed the idea, and said they were not consulted and that council never sat and passed a resolution to shift the district headquarters to Ogur sub-county.
“I am a councillor representing the people of Bar sub-county and I can tell you that as council we never sat and resolved on Ogur as the proposed new site for the relocation of Lira district headquarters,” Owera told the media weeks ago.
He added that relocating Lira district headquarters to Ogur will create disconnect on the sub-counties in Erute South.
Mr Bernard Adoko had meanwhile threatened to mobilize the community in Erute South to demonstrate against Lira district local leaders for “forging” minutes of council which they used to dupe the minister to believe that a decision had been taken to relocate the district headquarters to Ogur.
It should, however, be noted that both Lira district LC5 chairman Alex Patrick Oremo Alot and the district speaker, George Rashid Opio have been steadfast in defending the decision to relocate the district headquarters to Ogur because to them, “it is the position of council”.
Mr James Omara Elem, a councillor representing the youth in the district council, is also on record affirming that indeed the council sat and move a resolution that Ogur should host the district headquarters.
Councilors petitions Local Government Ministry
The councilors vehemently opposed to the relocation of the district headquarters to Ogur have not just used their “verbal artilleries” to wage a war against the planned move, but have proceeded with a pen on paper and sent a strongly worded missive to the Ministry of Local Government expressing their dissatisfaction with the whole process.
Signed by Denis Owera of Bar sub -county and Moses Okwel Orech from Amach sub-county, the petition written on 10th of Agust 2020, the two councilors are demanding for an investigation into the “purported council resolution” and that the planned relocation should be blocked.
“The purported council resolution allegedly submitted to the ministry was obtained without the sitting of the district council, the said district council herein attached as “Annex 1” which we relied on to grant the headquarters to Ogur sub-county does not contain any council resolution of such a nature, the process of the planned relocation is tainted with irregularities, illegalities and fraud with the knowledge of the former speaker Hon George Rashid Opio, Clerk to Council Mr. Okello Francis Olwa, some employees of Lira district local government and their agents,” the petition reads in part.
As they implore the minister of local government Hon. Raphael Magyezi to take action. The duo have also threatened to start legal and criminal proceedings against whoever took part in this illegality and fraudulent behaviour if their issues are not handled from the date of receipt of their petition.
“The illegal relocation of Lira District Headquarters to Ogur sub-county and the declaration on the same by the Hon. Minister of Local Government on the 5th and 6th of August 2020 be quashed and considered null and void,” the two councilors are demanding.
The council meeting which has stirred controversy was allegedly held on the 25th of January 2019, according to an extract of its minutes, a copy of which has since been obtained by TND News.
Minister Magyezi reacts
Asked by TND News’ Frank Oyugi in a telephone interview on the position of the ministry on Lira district local government and its new headquarters, Minister Raphael Magyezi said it was not yet concluded because he has received a petition challenging the legality of Ogur as the new headquarters of Lira district local government.
“I hope you are aware that some councilors have petitioned my office challenging the resolution by the district to relocate the district headquarters, so it is a practice in local government that once we receive a petition, we should investigate and dispose it off,” he told this publication.
The minister further explained that he is sending a team of technocrats and highly skilled experts from the Ministry of Local Government to verify the authenticity of the claims levied by the two councillors, but warned that should it be established that the council minutes that birthed Ogur as the new district headquarters was forged, then there will be consequences.