ARUA. Councilors and other stake holders gathered to attend a council meeting of Arua municipal council were left in shock after the speaker Mr Ramadhan Faraj suspended the sitting on claims that he was suddenly sick.

The council sitting was expected to address the Barifa forest saga that has dragged for years without any fruition.

Attempts to de-gazette the forest have hit dead ends due to bureaucracies despite the municipality earlier fulfilling a crucial requirement to obtain an alternative land for the same purpose in Logiri Sub County.

“I welcome you to this extraordinary sitting with matters to discuss on the papers” Mr Faraj began after the fully packed room had just finished the national anthem.

“However, on a sad note we might not proceed with today’s meeting because I am not feeling well and in a situation of this nature, I should have left my deputy who is also not around”

“I want to apologize and I want you to understand me. This being an extraordinary meeting, we will communicate another day as soon as possible. With this I want to adjourn this meeting”, he said before shortly disappearing from the room.

Attempts to get any clue on the speaker’s sickness were futile by press time.

Mr Ramandhan FarajThe speaker, Mr Ramandhan Faraj adjourning the meeting on Monday. PHOTO BY JOSEPH ODAMA.

The clerk to council Mr Stephen Yosa confirmed that the speaker had not informed him earlier about the sickness and guessed that it might have started when he was already set for the meeting.

But Hajj Husein Okudriga, who represents Arua Hill division to the municipal council said the speaker’s claim is unprofessional as he did not inform clerk to council who would have in turn informed councilors about the fate of the council sitting.

“The speaker should have notified us earlier through clerk to council. It’s painful as our time has been wasted for over two hours. They are destroying the name of the council and yet we are a very big body of the municipality”, Okudriga stressed.

He labelled the speaker’s conduct as an individual weakness, something that had never happened in the council he has served for many years.

Division chairperson for Arua Hill division, Ms Nezma Ocokoru called the incident unfortunate especially by the fact that the category of people invited for the council meeting according to her were high class.

“I don’t think that the speaker has just fallen sick a few minutes ago; I expected the speaker to have notified the clerk to council in order to notify people about his sickness”, she protested.

Ocokoru said the issue of de-gazzeting Barifa forest requires an urgent action following years of futile attempts.

She said the forest had largely been a danger zone for people especially women and girls who on occasions had been raped in the forest.

Ocokoru said she believed the speaker would call another meeting soon but urgued that if he still felt sick, the deputy should be delegated to takeover so that a resolution about the forest is passed by the council.

Arua municipality Mayor, Mr Isa Kato said everyone had prepared for the meeting and also reiterated the call to reschedule the same as soon as possible.

The West Nile Web was reliably informed that the extra-ordinary council was called mainly to have a re-affirming resolution to de-gazette the forest located in Arua hill division and partly Oluko Sub County.

This after the responsible ministry of water and environment requested Arua municipal council to undertake the whole process of clearing the 236 hectare artificial forest afresh.