A section of locals from Lamwo district have accused Nancy Acora (DWR Lamwo) of diverting relief items meant for residents whose homes were destroyed by hailstorms and a fire, and instead used the items to reward her campaign agents, not affected by the disasters.
While speaking to journalists in Kampala, James Ocen (Deputy Speaker Lamwo District Council) and Fred Anywar revealed that Hillary Onek (Lamwo County West) who also doubles as Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees authored a letter on 23rd May, 2022, highlighting the plight of residents that had been affected by hailstorms in Ogil, Madiopel and Palabek Kai sub-counties in Lamwo district.
Minister Onek also authored another letter on 30th June, 2022 reporting another tragedy that befell Lamwo district, following a conflict between two clans that ended with a fire that ravaged several houses.
This also rendered over 200 people homeless, prompting the Minister to ask the Office of Prime Minister to come to the aid of residents in Ogili, Agoro, and PalabekKal Sub-counties.
The Office of the Prime Minister responded to the request by releasing Posho- 20,000Kgs valued at Shs4000 per kilogram, worth Shs80M; beans-10,000Kgs at a rate of Shs4000 thus Shs40M; and iron sheets-700 pieces worth Shs45,000 each piece costing about Shs31.5M. The relief items cost Shs151,500,000 in total.
Whereas the items were meant for people affected by nodding diseases, the household headed by widows, HIV/AIDs patients, people displaced after land conflicts and areas where hail storms hit, they instead diverted.
That upon the delivery of these items, before even the Lamwo district Committee would convene to discuss how the items would be distributed, the items were diverted to suit Acora’s political maneuver by giving each NRM Chairperson from the 19 sub-counties 20 iron sheets each. Her political agents from the 19 sub-counties also reportedly got 20 iron sheets each.
The political agents further received 20 Kgs of beans and 50Kgs of posho each, while the rest of the items were shared by the local politicians.
“There are vulnerable people who you see are totally suffering and the purpose for requesting these relief items was to assist these victims, but how do we feel the same items from the government store just go to assist political agents at the expense of the victims who are suffering?” remarked Anywar.
The Lamwo District Deputy Speaker revealed that when the matter was raised in the district council, the leaders agreed to have James Okum, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Lamwo district to account for the relief items, but refused to furnish the leaders with any accountability, saying he didn’t participate in the distribution exercise, having been hijacked by Acora.
Ocen explained; “The District Council wrote to the CAO that as per the guidelines, he should account for the distribution of these iron sheets and the CAO said, he isn’t aware and the MP took part without consulting him, so he can’t give any report to the Minister of Relief and Disaster. He refused, that is why he hasn’t given any accountability.”
Anywar stated that when other residents raised the matter in the district WhatsApp group, Acora admitted to have distributed the relief items to both her political agents, NRM Chairpersons and Local political councilors, saying the items were delivered to her by the Late Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
“We tried as the constituents to hold our leaders accountable, but this is the arrogant woman who doesn’t even listen. We need explanation from OPM if it was meant for the political agents so that every Ugandan can know that from OPM, any MP can go there and request for relief items. Failure to do all these things we shall be left with no option but to seek for other approaches,” said Anywar.
However, when journalists pointed out that the former Speaker passed on in March 2022, while the relief items were distributed between July and August 2022, wondering if this was another case of ghost items, Anwar replied, “That is the kind of explanations we want from her, how she came to receive items from the person who is already dead.”
When contacted for a comment , Acora was hesitant to be recorded but revealed that Lamwo district have never had hailstorms but the said relief items had been requested by former Speaker Oulanyah in appreciation of the support they accorded him when they voted him NRM leader Northern region and that’s why she gave them to the politicians.
“…. let that boy together with his accomplishes add you more money and put my biggest picture on the front page but before God they will continue to be frustrated and fail in their political which hunt, go and find facts from those offices i referred you to, thanks and be blessed,” wrote Acora in response given on WhatsApp.
The development comes at the time Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee is probing allegations that a number of top Government officials have admitted to receiving iron sheets and putting them for personal use, yet the relief items were meant for the vulnerable groups in Karamoja.
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