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Serere Residents Lock Office of the CFO Over Alleged Poisoning :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Serere Residents Lock Office of the CFO Over Alleged Poisoning

Amuso reportedly told the mourners that her husband repeatedly complained about his tormentors at the workplace. After the revelation on Sunday, the family revised the burial program and refused to take the body to Serere for the special council session.
Some of the posters pinned on the doors by the angry residents.
Angry residents of Serere have locked the office of the Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Andrew Mayende, protesting the alleged poisoning of the Acting District Planner, Francis Otwal. Otwal breathed his last at Kiruddu Hospital in Kampala on Friday after a short illness resulting from diarrhea and vomiting that lasted about two weeks. 

The medical report indicates that he died because of herbal poisoning that damaged his kidneys and the liver. Otwal's death has not gone down well with the people of Serere district especially after the family rejected a special district council sitting to bid him farewell on Monday. 

The family claims that Otwal had a bad working relationship with his colleagues, especially the CFO, the Human Resource Officer (HRO), Peter Ofamba, and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Richard Bukone, among others. The revelation was first made by the widow, Martha Amuso Otwal during the requiem service at the Pentecostal Assembly of God (PAG) Church in Soroti City on Sunday. 

Amuso reportedly told the mourners that her husband repeatedly complained about his tormentors at the workplace. After the revelation on Sunday, the family revised the burial program and refused to take the body to Serere for the special council session. 

The family also requested that all the accused officers stay away from the burial in the Amuria district.  On Tuesday morning, when the teams from Serere left for burial in Amuria, several people matched to the district headquarters with sticks and placards. They surrounded the district offices hoping to find the implicated officers. 

Their anger flared after discovering that the suspected officers had fled the offices to Serere Central Police Station where they were reportedly secured. The angry residents locked the offices of the accused officers and placed placards with messages condemning the alleged poisoning.

David Okiring, one of the angry residents says that they want all the implicated officers out of Serere district. He notes that it’s the second incident in the district after another mysterious death of the Principal Assistant Secretary (PAS), Patrick Ejiku in 2020. 

“We are tired of this nonsense where some people want to own up the district. This must stop and all the suspected officers must leave Serere,” he said. At the burial in Asamuk Town Council, Amuria district, the family of the deceased told mourners that Otwal had a very hard-working environment in Serere for allegedly declining to take part in corruption tendencies in the district.   

“My husband always told me about the corruption in the district. He said that he had been targeted for trying to stop illegal transactions including briberies and forged accountabilities,” Mrs. Otwal said at the funeral on Tuesday. She said that Otwal’s worst experience was in last year’s district assessment conducted by the auditors on the district performance. 

According to Amuso, the auditors, who were sent from Kampala wanted some money in order to enable the district to record good performance that would attract more funding, which her husband declined. “He told me that the district missed more than UGX. 400 million that was meant for some projects in the district. The situation at the time put him under tension as both the CAO and the district council members demanded explanations. And yet, they were not able to listen or understand the reasons behind it,” she said.

Amuso also told mourners that her husband has been worried about the upcoming district assessment from the same people since they asked him to revisit his earlier stand in order to save the district. Stephen Ochola, the Serere LCV Chairperson confirmed that the district was penalized over poor performance and indeed lost the bonuses given to districts that excel during assessments.

“Otwal was a man of integrity. He never wanted any dirty deals and stood by his words. Although I cannot confirm the poisoning allegations, I want to say that Otwal stepped on many people’s toes when he stood his ground,” he said to the mourners in Amuria. Ochola also promised to follow up with the matter and noted that some of the accused officers have a very bad working record in the district.

By the time of filing this story, the CFO was still locked up in Serere Police Station and our reporter couldn't access him. The Human Resource Officer's known contact was switched off and the CAO was equally unavailable for the comment. However, the Serere District Police Commander (DPC), Saulo Musasizi said that they going to convene a crisis meeting before Friday to address the matter.