Serere Residents Lock CFO’s Office Amid Poisoning Allegations

Serere Residents Lock CFO’s Office Amid Poisoning Allegations

Serere District | THE BLACK EXAMINER | In Serere, a surge of anger among local residents locked the office of Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Andrew Mayende. Their protest centers around the alleged poisoning of Acting District Planner Francis Otwal, who tragically passed away at Kiruddu Hospital in Kampala on Friday. His death followed a brief illness marked by severe diarrhea and vomiting lasting approximately two weeks.

According to the medical report, Otwal’s cause of death was attributed to herbal poisoning, resulting in significant damage to his kidneys and liver. The people of Serere district have been deeply unsettled by this incident, especially after the family declined a special district council session to bid farewell to Otwal on Monday.

The family’s refusal was rooted in their claims of Otwal’s strained working relationships, particularly with colleagues such as the CFO, Human Resource Officer (HRO) Peter Ofamba, and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Richard Bukone, among others. These revelations first surfaced from Otwal’s widow, Martha Amuso Otwal, during the requiem service at the Pentecostal Assembly of God (PAG) Church in Soroti City on Sunday.

Amuso disclosed that her late husband had repeatedly voiced concerns about harassment and mistreatment at his workplace. Following this revelation on Sunday, the family altered the burial plans and refused to hold the funeral in Serere, requesting that all accused officers stay away from the burial in Amuria district.

On Tuesday morning, as a team from Serere departed for the burial in Amuria, a group of enraged residents converged on the district headquarters with placards and sticks, hoping to confront the implicated officers. Their fury escalated upon discovering that the accused officers had sought refuge at the Serere Central Police Station.

In response, the incensed residents locked the offices of the accused officers and placed placards condemning the alleged poisoning. David Okiring, one of the protesters, called for the immediate removal of all implicated officers from Serere district. He cited a similar mysterious death in the district in 2020 when Principal Assistant Secretary (PAS) Patrick Ejiku passed away.

“We are fed up with this situation where some individuals attempt to control the district. This must come to an end, and all the suspected officers must leave Serere,” Okiring declared. During the burial in Asamuk Town Council, Amuria district, the deceased’s family revealed that Otwal had faced a hostile work environment in Serere due to his refusal to partake in corrupt practices.

Mrs. Otwal explained that her husband frequently discussed corruption within the district, stating that he had been targeted for resisting illegal transactions, including bribes and forged accountabilities. She recounted a particularly tense episode during the previous year’s district assessment, where auditors from Kampala sought financial incentives to improve the district’s performance. Otwal refused, leading to a significant loss of funding for the district.

Furthermore, Amuso revealed her husband’s ongoing concerns about an upcoming district assessment by the same individuals, who pressured him to change his stance to safeguard the district’s interests. Serere LCV Chairperson Stephen Ochola affirmed Otwal’s integrity, though he could not confirm the poisoning allegations. Ochola pledged to investigate the matter, highlighting the poor work records of some of the accused officers.

As of the time of this report, the CFO remained in custody at Serere Police Station, with no access for our reporter. The Human Resource Officer’s known contact was unreachable, and the CAO was equally unavailable for comment. Serere District Police Commander (DPC) Saulo Musasizi announced plans to convene a crisis meeting before Friday to address the escalating situation.

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