Two firms; Omongole & Co. Advocates and Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) have presented varying lists basing on earlier orders and government consent with other parties in the compensation. The firms are challenging the authenticity of the list of 33,664 claimants and their legal representation in the matter.
A disagreement has emerged among lawyers
representing war victims in Teso and the Attorney General’s Office over the list
of claimants to be considered for compensation.
Two firms; Omongole & Co. Advocates and Kampala
Associated Advocates (KAA) have presented varying lists basing on earlier
orders and government consent with other parties in the compensation. The firms are challenging the authenticity of the list of 33,664 claimants and their legal representation in the matter.
The case stems from a suit filed in 2010 by one Geresom Eotu (now deceased), in
a matter which was handled by Kampala Associated Advocates. But after
some engagements, President Yoweri Museveni intervened
in the matter and directed the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional
to negotiate an out of court settlement. Although the Attorney General later entered a Consent
Judgement that required payment of the deserving claimants to be complete
within four months, nothing has since been realized.
Associated Advocates now has written to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah questioning how reference was made to Richard Omongole, as the lawyer for Teso Compensation Claimants, in relation to the Consent Judgement
when actually, Omongole & Co. Advocates was not involved in the matter. The firm argues that they are the only advocates duly instructed
to represent claimants in the Consent Judgement that President Museveni agreed to
“The only Consent Judgement on record to date is one
executed between our clients represented by ourselves and the Attorney General.
The Attorney General carried out a joint verification exercise with our client
in December 2015 to February 2016 which has given rise to the only verification
report on record to date,” the letter reads.
In a twist of events, Omongole also wrote to
the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among and the Attorney General’s Office challenging the claims by Kampala Associated Advocates. Omongole indicated in his
letter that there was a fraudulent list of Teso claimants being validated by
the Attorney General’s Office.
“To our dismay, we have learnt that this is not the list of
claimants that were sent by Omongole & Co. Advocates, the lawyers of the
victims. The people listed are total strangers who were not on the list to be verified
as ordered by the court and not known to us. We do not know how the Attorney
General has come up with a completely different list in respect to the Teso War
Claimants to be compensated”, his letter reads in part.
verification, according to Omongole, was in the main case involving the former
Kapelebyong County MP, Julius Ocen and 200,500 others were also
consolidated with Imodot and 105 others versus the Attorney General, and Oluka and
9 others versus the Attorney General. The other case was led by the Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa
and 2020 others versus the Attorney General in 2005, it's ruling on the
violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms was delivered in January 2018.
Unlike other cases where the claimants were seeking
compensation for the atrocities committed in Teso during the insurgency, Okupa’s
case majored in an incident where the Anti- Stock Theft Unit- ASTU, a
government paramilitary group attacked an Internally Displaced Camp in Ngariam,
Katakwi District, killing 17 people, injured hundreds, raped women, tortured
men and children and made away with 500 heads of cattle in 2002.
According to Omongole, none of the victims in either case
has been considered in the purported list that is currently being validated. He
adds that the alleged Consent Judgement case by the late Eotu had 7,000 other
people, which number doesn’t add to 33,664 being validated by the Attorney
Since 2005, at least five civil suits have been registered
in Soroti High Court seeking compensation for lives and property lost during the insurgency
by the rebel groups, Karimojong cattle rustlers and government soldiers.
Jackson Kafuuzi, the Deputy Attorney General, however, says
that the list under verification was shared with Omongole after a
meeting with the Attorney General Office in mid-September. He adds that the 33,664 number is not comprehensive
of all the claimants in the Teso sub-region.
Kafuuzi, who was in Soroti over the weekend to meet various
stakeholders on the issue of compensation said that some people want to politicize
//Cue in; “To be honest…
On September 14, 2021, the Attorney General’s Office held
various meetings with lawyers handling matters of compensation for Acholi, Lango
and Teso sub-regions, Members of Parliaments and District Internal Security
Officers from the three sub-regions over the compensation issues.
After a few days, The High Court in Soroti granted one month to
the parties to conduct verification of the claimants ahead of the planned
payment envisaged for October. The court was attended by John Kalemera and
Phillip Mwaka, the Commissioners at the Attorney General’s Officer, lawyers
from Omongole & Co. Advocates and representatives of Teso War Claimants.
On August 17, 2021, Court granted an order to
compel the Secretary to the Treasury to pay Teso war Claimants after the government
failed to heed to the earlier orders of compensation.