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NGO Boss, Field Coordinator Arrested on Allegations of Duping Farmers Over UGX700M

According to Odongo, he ordered the arrest of the suspects after receiving a complaint from the Paiula Sub County LC V councillor, Ballex Okello who was approached by farmers in his constituency who sought his intervention in the fraudulent acts.

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Dr. Solomon Okello, the Chief Executive Officer of Countryside Harvester, a local NGO operating in Northern Uganda is in trouble for allegedly fleecing farmers in Pader district over Shillings 700 million.  Police picked up Okello on Monday together with his field coordinator, Alfred Okello on the orders of Pader Resident District Commissioner, Milton Odongo following a tip-off from local leaders.   

According to Odongo, he ordered the arrest of the suspect after receiving a complaint from the Paiula Sub County LC V councillor, Ballex Okello who was approached by farmers in his constituency who sought his intervention in the fraudulent acts. Odongo says that the suspects have reportedly been collecting money from farmers in the district since 2020 under the pretext of offering them a pair of oxen and ox ploughs in vain.   

//Cue in: “the police has….  

Cue out: …..been given out,”//  

Ballex Okello, the LC V councillor of Paiula Sub County, says the victims started contributing to the organization in October 2020 but to their dismay, the oxen and ox-ploughs have never been delivered despite their numerous pleas. 

According to Okello, each of the unsuspecting victims contributed Shillings 77,000 purportedly to benefit from a pair of oxen and an ox-plough. He says that the NGO collected an estimated Shillings 672million from 873 farmers in Pajule, Paiula and Ajan sub-counties but the figure could be more since the NGO has also been operating in Laguti, Bongtiko, Angagura and Atanga sub Counties.

//Cue in: “Organization ma….  

Cue out: …..pud peke,”//  

Monica Atenyo, a victim says what was baffling the farmers was the delay in the distribution of the promised farm implements and assertions that their contributions were made to cater for legal fees and not the animals and ox-ploughs.   

Information obtained from the NGO’s website indicates that the organization is implementing the project with funding from the Council of British Agricultural Universities (CBAU, targeting mainly youths with the aim of improving livelihood, eradicating poverty and improving the standard of living among local communities through Agriculture. 

The website further states that the five-year project mainly offers tree seedlings, piglets, broilers and kroiler poultry, dairy cattle, oxen and ox-ploughs to their targeted 20,000 beneficiaries in the Acholi, Lango, Teso and West Nile Subregions.

Pader District Community Development Officer, Festo Okidi says that the NGO could have been operating illegally since records from the department indicate they were not registered and didn’t sign a memorandum of understanding with the district. 

Okidi advised the members of the public to be extra cautious while dealing with organizations that purportedly solicit money from them in exchange for services and opportunities to be delivered to the populace. Pader District Police Commander, Abraham Tukundane, says that they have opened a case of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretence against the suspects. 

He also called on those who could have fallen victim to the scum to record statements with their respective police outposts and provide sufficient evidence against the suspects.