Shrine Belonging To Lakwena's Father Demolished In Kitgum

Authorities in Kitgum district on Sunday demolished a temple of worship erected by Severino Lukoya, the father of deceased rebel leader Alice Lakwena citing cult worship.
Lukoya leading Prayers in His Gulu Temple

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Authorities in Kitgum district on Sunday demolished a temple of worship erected by Severino Lukoya, the father of deceased rebel leader Alice Lakwena citing cult worship. The demolition follows complaints that a paralyzed man died while undergoing crude reflexology and healing prayers.


Alice Lakwena, a cousin sister to Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led the Holy Spirit Movement in the 1980s before fleeing to exile in Kenya where she later died. Her father Severino Lukoya has been unsuccessfully attempting to erect shrines which he calls temples of worship in Acholi and Lango sub regions in recent years.


One of the temples established in 2011 was being hosted at the home of former Anglican clergyman, Rev. George Okwera, in Tepwoyo Village, Pudor parish in Mucwini Sub County. Geoffrey Oguti, the district councillor representing Mucwini sub county, says it is the third attempt for Lukoya to re-establish his cult worship at the sub county. Mucwini is the home of Archbishop Janani Luwum leader of Church of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, who was killed in 1977.


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Oguti says the temple was destroyed to prevent Lukoya re-establishing his foothold at the sub county. He says Lukoya operated a camp in the 1980s that recruited many young Ugandans in Mucwini Sub County to the Holy Spirit Movement under the leadership of his daughter Alice Lakwena.


Oguti says they descended on the temple after Lukoya, the senior leader of New Jerusalem Tabernacle Ministries, on Wednesday turned up in the office of the Resident District Commissioner asking the district security committee to provide him security to conduct worship at the shrine when residents threatened to lynch him.


Lukoya presented a working permit obtained from the national NGO board, which Captain Okot Santos Lapolo, the Kitgum RDC says limits him to operate only in Gulu and Lira districts in areas of evangelism, healing the sick through prophetic powers and social transformation among others.


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Captain Santos Okot Lapolo said while pulling down the shrine that Lukoya is enticing unsuspecting residents to his cult using Bajaj motorcycles for boda boda and food rations.


Councillor Oguti says Lukoya has been mobilizing his people against government programmes including seeking medical services, education and the forthcoming national census, just like he did for national ID registration.


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Both Oguti and RDC Lapolo say Lukoya’s conduct is typical of cult worship as practiced by Joseph Kibwetere, the leader of the restoration of the Ten Commandments - who is wanted for the massacre of over 1,000 people in Kanungu district in March 2000. The worshippers were burnt to death and government is yet to make public the report of inquiry into their demise.


Uganda Radio Network visited the Temple and found two human effigies in position of worshipers around a heap of river stones – which Lukoya’s followers believe can turn into bombs when blessed with Shea nut oil and holy water. This was the same message preached by Lakwena during the Holy Spirit Movement war aginst the government. A bottle of Shea nut oil was placed astride the stones gathered in between two inverted bamboo pegs planted in the middle of the large clean compound without any protective shade.


Lukoya’s followers described the action as religious persecution and a violation of their freedom to worship as embodied in the 1995 Uganda Constitution. Santa Okwera, Rev. George Okwera’s spouse told Uganda Radio Network that her husband had gone to Kitgum town at the time of the operation.


Daniel Ogenrwot, a son to Rev. Okwera was picked up by security for resisting the demolition of the shrine. Rev. Okwera told Uganda Radio Network that he won’t be deterred from following a religion of his choice in accordance to the country’s constitution.