MARACHA. Police in Maracha on Thursday foiled a planned demonstration by a section of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders against what they termed as a ‘wrong’ decision taken by the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) to block one of his staff from accessing office.
The NRM leaders wanted to stage a peaceful demonstration after it emerged that Mr Joseph Lomongin blocked Mr George Olega, the former acting district engineer from accessing his office on Friday last week.
This is after Olega wrote to Lomongin a notice of resumption of duty after a year of staying at home.
The Engineer was dismissed from duty in February 2018 by the former Maracha CAO, Mr Martin Kisule Mabandha over allegations of incompetence and lack of academic qualification, a matter which he (Olega) later took to court.
However, Mr Anthony Oyuko Ojor, the Arua High Court Judge on May 16, 2019, ruled the case in favour of Olega on grounds that the actions of the former CAO were illegal for being ultra vires his powers.
The Judge also ruled that the applicant be reinstated with immediate effect and his salaries be paid from the time of his unlawful dismissal to date.
But trouble started when Olega requested to return for duty only to be blocked by Lomongin thus sparking off the call for the protest.
“We want Olega back to office. Maracha has lagged behind in terms of service delivery because of these kinds of fights. Now that Court has cleared Olega, why is the CAO blocking him? Mr Gabriel Ofeku, the Maracha district NRM chairman said.
Ofeku said they had mobilized over 5,000 NRM members to come and force Olega in his office but the police came up to block their move.
“Currently, the NRM manifesto of ensuring development in terms of good and accessible road networks is not being implemented in Maracha simply because of the absence of the Engineer whom the CAO is fighting. We are giving him a few days to return Olega to office lest we shall follow the necessary procedure to protest against his action,” Ofeku warned.
Ofeku was flanked by Ms Rose Ayaka, the area Woman Member of Parliament (MP) who also expressed bitterness against the police decision to block the intended peaceful demonstration.
“Mr DPC, we want to tell you that our being here is not an illegality itself but we want to solve a problem and I’m also cautioning you (DPC) not to take an action against any one of these NRM members because we are in the process of solving our problem, how we solve it, please don’t harass us,” Ayaka warned.
“It is actually criminal for the CAO not to implement the Court ruling. The people of Maracha are simply saying this is just too much, we are fed up. Our district will not be run in disarray. We want to see that Olega takes his rightful office and no one should mistreat him,” Ayaka said.
She said the government is already aware of what is happening in Maracha, adding that should any one of the people of Maracha be mistreated, action will be taken against the perpetrator.
But in his remarks, Mr John Oese, the Maracha DPC said the NRM members didn’t follow the provisions stipulated in the public order management act to stage their protest.
Oese argued that the law permits people planning to stage peaceful demonstrations to first notify police seven days earlier which was not the case with NRM members of Maracha.
When contacted on phone, Lomongin clarified that he was served with the court ruling on the same day Olega wanted to resume work yet there was a need for him to consult the solicitor general for legal advice.
He said the foiled demonstration was as a result of political pressure which he can’t succumb to since there are laws that govern his operation.
“I want to make it clear that Olega was not blocked from resuming work. I simply wanted to first consult the Solicitor General about the court ruling and as I speak now, I have reinstated him as the Senior Engineer in the works department but not as a district engineer as many think because he has never been a district engineer,”
He said Olega will instead resume work on 1st of July when the new financial year resumes.