• Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Lira: Surveyor, Sister, Arrested and Arraigned over Govt Land

UGANDALira | Real Muloodi News | After allegedly being on the run, Lira District surveyor, Francis Opio, and his sister, Rebecca Atoo, have been arrested and arraigned before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala over irregularly processing and allocating titles on government land in Lira.

The pair, both residents of Irenda Shamber Village in Lira City’s Central District, are said to have been on the run since last year after skipping Police bond.

They were brought before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala on 4th January 2023, presided over by the Principal Magistrate Grade One, Moses Nabende, on charges of abuse of office, fraudulent procurement of certificate of title and conspiracy to defraud the Government of Uganda part of its land.

The land in question is located on Plot 3 to 5 Ben Emor Road, which forms part of Ireda Estates. The land is now registered under Rebecca Atoo’s name. Prosecution alleges that Atoo illegally acquired the land and its title with the assistance of Pabious Otike, the District Natural Resources Officer and Joel Ogwang, the Zonal Cartographer, who were jointly charged last year and released on bond.

The remaining piece of land was illegally subdivided on either side of an illegitimate road, thus diving it into plots from 1 to 23 on one side and 2 to 18 on the other side.

Prosecution further alleges that between February and August 2019 Francis Opio surveyed the land at Ireda Estate in order to process its title for the district, but intentionally left out a big piece of land which the accused allocated to individuals including Atoo and Businessman Peter Okodo.

They denied the charges.

Opio and Atoo through their lawyer, Rashid Ssekamwa, pledged to the court that they are ready to abide by any conditions imposed on them if granted bail, and presented sureties to the court to demonstrate this.

Nevertheless, state prosecutor Gertrude Apio objected to their application for bail on the grounds the defendants are unreliable and unlikely to appear in court if freed, despite having fixed home addresses, according to an affidavit signed by investigator Charles Mugerwa.

Apio added that Atoo was present in court only because she was apprehended after being on the run since the start of the inquiry.

When she [Atoo] was summoned to the Police, she ran to the district internal security officer for protection and never reported to Police as summoned,” she said.

Apio said both Atoo and Opio have been on the run, and in an effort to evade authorities the pair and even switched off their phones so they couldn’t be traced. However the pair denied the allegations.

Magistrate Nabende granted Apio’s request for strict restrictions to be placed on the accused, and remanded them to Luzira Prison until February 28, 2022.

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