TEREGO. The police in Terego district have arrested nine leaders and followers of a cult church in Mulubu village, Katrini sub-county over allegation of defying the presidential directives on public gathering to prevent spread of COVID-19

The suspects were arrested while conducting prayers on Sunday in a total breach of Presidential directives.

The operation was spearheaded by the officer in charge of Katrini sub-county Police post Mr Ben Alioni and reinforced by the military and other security personnel at the district.

This follows the demolition of the semi-permanent structure church by the members of Aree clan and neighbouring community also belonging to the same cult leader identified Yoana Edrendu accusing him of setting up the church in ancestral land without their approval.

Alioni said they found over two hundred people in the congregation during the prayers in Yoana’s ancestral home 1 km South of Oriajini Catholic parish from which he broke away.

“When we reached here, Yoana and his followers were not bothered, I arrested him and three others and used my car to take them to the police cell in the sub-county, I went back and plucked three more catechists leading the prayers from the altar and whisked them away,” Alioni explained.

He cautioned the people against disregarding the guidelines and SOPs put in place to prevent spread of coronavirus at a time when community infections in the area are rising.

“If the biggest Catholic cathedral in the country at Rubaga and Namirembe for Anglicans are closed and Oriajini Catholic parish and Mosque are also closed, who are you here with Yoana to continue normally with prayers?” Alioni lamented.

Terego district police commander Mr John Baptist Kyambadde confirmed that the suspects including the cult leader Yoana Edrendu have already been sentenced to two months’ imprisonment at Arua government prison in Arua city for disobeying presidential directives on Covid-19 and SOPs.

Ben Alioni

“The leader of the cult church was arrested together with eight of his administrators leading activities in the church, the communities were becoming concerned, by the time we reached there, the situation was becoming out of hand and they moved in with a lot of violence, they demolished the church, they removed everything including the chairs, carpets and construction materials,” Kyambadde stated.

According to Ms Christine Alezuyo, the sister in law to the cult leader, Yona began the cult in 2018 after he was excommunicated by the Catholic Church when he behaved strangely both in the church during prayers in Oriajini parish and in the communities.

“He used to stand up during prayers when the congregation is silent and attentive to the homely, pointing out at people at random and accusing them of being witches or sinners. One day, he grabbed the crucifix on the altar and claimed it was made by evil spirits living under water and wanted to replace it with his own which was resisted by the presiding priest”, Alezuyo narrated.

The communities were pleased by the operation and testified that the emergence of the cult church has caused disunity and misery in some families due to stigma after the self-proclaimed prophet accused them of practicing witchcraft.

They also said the shrine should not be there because a number of people who sought healing and treatment in the shrine died due to torture and victims who are women are defiled and rapped.

Yoana reportedly draws more powers from the metallic cross he retrieved from the grave of his father which was recently confiscated by the police in the district.

Currently, Terego resident district commissioner Ms Bassie Ajilong Mudesta has ordered all the shrines operated by witch doctors and herbalists to close after the death of a 16year old in Oriajini Hospital due to COVID 19 after his treatment was delayed in a shrine in Olua parish, Katrini sub-county.