Clerics Snub Omot Massacre Memorial Prayers in Agago

Rev Nelson Onono Onweng, the ARLPI Chairperson told URN in an interview that they called off their attendance after learning that the two groups failed to reach a common ground to hold a joint prayer.
Children gather near the monument erected in memory of the 28 people killed by LRA rebels in Opota trading center in Omot Subcounty Agago District on October 22 2002. Photo By Julius Ocungi

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Clerics under their umbrella body, Acholi religious leaders’ peace initiative [ALRPI], on Tuesday snubbed a memorial service for the victims and survivors of the infamous Omot massacre in Agago district.  

This was after a section of Christians led by the parish priest of Patongo Parish Fr Cyprian Ocan P’Akech and relatives and survivors of the massacre led by clerics from Anglican Church rejected to hold a joint prayer.

ARLPI clerics had resolved in an October 4th meeting to lead a joint prayer in memory of the massacre victims at wanglobo parish, Latin ling village in Omot Sub-county.

However, misunderstandings marred the event after the two factions held separate prayers, with the catholic group drawing multitude of locals at wang Lobo primary school while handful of people commemorated the day with survivors and victim’s relatives.

The memorial prayers was in remembrance of 28 people who were brutally killed and some of their body parts placed in cooking pots by the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebels on October 22nd 2002 in Opota village, Omot Sub County.

John Bosco Olanya, the Chairperson of Okony Too Ateda Widows and Widowers’ Association, a community-based organization formed for the massacre survivors says initially they had been holding prayers together.

He, however, says tension started building in 2017 over failure by the Patongo Catholic parish to remit money collected from offertories and condolences during prayers to the victim’s relatives eventually leading to their fall out in 2018.

Olanya alleges that the church has been benefiting from holding prayers in the names of commemorating the grisly massacre yet any monetary benefits they get hasn’t been equally shared with the victims’ relatives.

Luo byte

// Cue in; “con ni onongo…..

Cue out… pe ot too” //

John Bosco Okidi, the Chairperson of St Jude Chapel At Wang Lobo Primary School were Catholic Church held t6he memorial prayers however says the victim’s relatives are money minded.

He says the separation is uncalled for since the prayer is held in memory of those killed but not a money-making event.

Luo// Cue in; “Dul ma gi…

Cue out…I ot too” // 

Okidi instead accused the victim’s chairperson of misusing money that was sent by president Museveni to the group’s association under the leadership of Olanya in 2017.

The survivors’ association received 10 million shillings from President Museveni in 2017 but according to Olanya, the money was used to purchase a land at wang lobo village which has been used to hold memorial prayers since last year.

Rev Nelson Onono Onweng, the ARLPI Chairperson says that they called off their attendance after learning that the two groups failed to reach a common ground to hold a joint prayer.

He said it would have been embarrassing for the clerics to attend the prayers in which Christians were holding separate prayers in memory of those killed.

Bishop Onweng, however, says as ARLPI leaders, they will sit down later to try to calm the situation through holding meetings with the Bishop of Kitgum Diocese Rev Wilson Kitara and Gulu Archdiocese arch Bishop Dr John Baptist Odama.

Arch Bishop Odama launched commemoration prayers in memory of the massacre victims in 2003 while still chairing ARLPI.

Similar massacres by LRA rebels in the region include Mucwini in Kitgum district, Lukodi, Atiak in Gulu and Amuru districts respectively and Barlonyo Massacre in Lira District.