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Acholi War Debts Claimants In Fresh Leadership Wrangle

On Monday, more than 200 members of the Association led by the former chairperson, Eng. Noah Opwonya held a meeting at their new offices in Library Parish in Pece Division in Gulu municipality where they decided to oust the leadership of John Kiiza Nyeko.
Members of the Acholi War Debts Claimants Association are embroiled in a leadership wrangle. On Monday, more than 200 members of the Association led by the former chairperson, Eng. Noah Opwonya held a meeting at their new offices in Library Parish in Pece Division in Gulu municipality where they decided to oust the leadership of John Kiiza Nyeko.

The group seeks more than Shillings 1 trillion from government in compensation for loss of property during the 1986 National Resistance Army bush war. During the Monday meeting, members accused Nyeko's leadership of breaching the constitution of the association, abuse of office, incompetence and failure to organize annual general meeting amongst others. 

 

 

They resolved to constitute an Electoral Commission led by Boniface Paul Obita, a retired civil servant to conduct fresh polls. The members re-elected Opwonya as the new chairperson of Acholi War Debts Claimants Association after polling 132 votes against his rival, Livingstone Ocen who garnered 28 votes.

 

 

They also elected the retired Bishop of Kitgum diocese, Benjamin Ojwang as their first vice chairperson and created a new position for second vice chairperson which was taken up by Titus Lucky Kidega, the former Chua County Member of parliament.

 

Other members include Ogaba Labwo, national treasurer, Gilbert Ojok Oryema, Secretary General and Woman Representative, Catherine Akello. Eng. Opwonya told members that the election was premised on a provision in their constitution which "empowers members to convene an annual general meeting if the incumbent office bearers failed to do so at the expiry of their term of office.

 

 

He accused the outgoing leadership under his former vice chairperson, John Kiiza Nyeko of letting down the association members. Eng. Opwonya urged the newly elected leaders to rally behind him and pile pressure against government to pay them.

 

 

Eng. Noah Opwonya was controversially elected in 2010 in a similar manner. He was forced out of office in 2015 over numerous accusations ranging from sectarianism, embezzlement of members contributions to selective payment and usurping the roles of finance committee among others. 

 

George Pius Opio, the General Secretary and spokesperson of Acholi War Debts Claimants Association has distanced the executive of the association from Monday's election. He attributes their failure to convene the annual general meeting on lack of funds to assemble the 22,000 members scattered all over the sub region.

 

 

According to Opio, less than 200 members can't make a credible decision for members of the association. He argues that Eng. Opwonya organised snap elections to evade prosecution after being implicated by an internal commission of inquiry for alleged mismanagement and fraudulent transactions. 

 

 

According to Opio, Opwonya is faces Police investigations over a series of queries raised in the internal commission report. He urges members to disregard the elections with the contempt they deserve. This is the second time Eng. Opwonya is attempting a comeback at the helm of the association he is accused of mismanaging. He unsuccessfully sued the sitting executive for irregularly suspending him.

 

Court dismissed the application in January citing lack of merit. The fresh election is a major blow to the efforts of Captain Santos Okot Lapolo, the Gulu Resident District Commissioner to reunite and reconcile the three factions of Acholi War Debts Claimants Association. The third faction is led by Norbert Adyera. Acholi War Debts Claimants Association was started by a group of 14 people. Government has since advanced Shillings 10 billion to the association members in compensation for their lost livestock.