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Business grounded to a halt at Oluko Catholic Parish in Arua district over the weekend when hundreds of Christians comprising youths and women stormed the priest’s residence to eject him and his two colleagues for alleged mismanagement.
The angry Christians started mobilizing as early as 7:00 am from the villages of Ambeku, Riki, Oluko Trading Center and Buniababa, which fall under Oluko parish. They stormed the priest’s quarters where they pitched camp from Midday until 4:00 pm when security officers from Arua Central Police Station repulsed them.
The officers whisked off the parish priest, Fr. Kennedy Oziga who was the main target of the angry youths to Arua Central Police. The Vicar General Monsignor Kasto Adeti later picked up the priest and took him to Ediofe Cathedral parish for safety.
Police also whisked off two other priests only identified as Fr. Alphonse and Fr. Francis for their own safety as the angry youths tried to charge at them. The youths accused Rev. Fr. Kennedy Oziga of among others withdrawing over Shillings 12 million from the Parish account meant for construction, selling of bricks prepared by the Christians and Eucalyptus trees planted by the Christians.
They also claimed that Fr. Oziga has frustrated development projects in Oluko parish during his tenure as parish priest for the last 20 years and assumed total control over all resources right from the Dispensary, Nursery school and the parish itself.
They also accused him of attempting to grab a house built by some Missionaries for a disabled Christian only identified as Lematia. The Christians kept blowing whistles while chanting, “We don’t want you here anymore. You have stayed here for over 20 years and done nothing”.
Some of the protesters threw stones on the roof of the priest’s residence while some stormed and surrounded the Priests’ residence.
Fr. Kennedy Oziga denied all the accusations levelled against him, saying he is innocent.
Monsignor Kasto Adeti, the Vicar general of Arua Catholic Diocese who rushed scene to rescue Fr. Kennedy Oziga and the other Priests told URN that they had to evacuate the priests and take them elsewhere for safety.
He said they have managed to step up security at the priest’s residence and Parish headquarters.
Apostles of Jesus Congregation have been running Oluko Catholic Parish since they took it from Arua diocese more than 40 years ago. Some Christians especially women were seen weeping around Oluko church when they turned up for mass only to find chaos that reportedly started on Saturday.
Arua Diocese is currently in talks with the Superior of Apostles of Jesus congregation to explore ways of resolving the dispute. According to some sources, there is a possibility of the parish returning to the diocese should the congregation fail to resolve the conflict.