Tension As Cultural Leaders Vote Out Acholi Paramount Chief

Tension is mounting at the Acholi Cultural Institution following a decision by the council of chiefs to vote out the Acholi Paramount Chief, David Onen Acana II. The council of chiefs made the decision in an impromptu council meeting held in Gulu City on Tuesday.

They unanimously resolved to remove Rwot Acana for alleged failure to discharge his responsibilities, mismanagement, and degrading integrity that have soiled the image and management of the cultural institution. 

Justine Ociti Binyi, the Chief of Pagak Clan said Wednesday that the move was largely triggered by Acana’s recent attempt to sell away a piece of land belonging to the institution. URN couldn’t independently verify the claims.

The land measuring 0.33 hectares located at Plot 5-5a along Airfield Road in Bardege-Layibi Division in Gulu City was purportedly donated by the president to the cultural institution 10 years ago. Binyi alleged that Rwot Acana was already making a clandestine deal to sell away the piece of land to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) at Shillings 2.5 billion as his own land.

He says they have since resolved as the council of chiefs that the entire leadership and management of Rwot David Acana and his Deputy Rwot Otinga Otto Yai Otuka cease to hold office and carry out official duties on behalf of the institution with immediate effect. 

Binyi adds that they are also demanding that Acana provides the council of chiefs accountability and inventory of assets belonging to the cultural institution within 14 days.

Some of the issues also raised by the chiefs include alleged failure by Acana to produce a constitution for the cultural institution, mismanagement of funds between 203-2014, and lack of accountability for Shillings 200 million offered by President Museveni in October last year for dialogue over Apaa land conflicts.

Others include alleged misrepresentation of the title by Acana, breach of protocol, and the involvement of cultural leaders in the fraudulent sale of land in the Acholi Sub-region. Collins Muttu Atiku, the chief of the Patiko Clan, says that the council of chiefs had earlier written to Acana to convene a meeting with them so that he briefs them on the land deal but he thrice declined to reply to their letter.

Muttu says the decision of the chiefs wasn’t reached with ill motives but to save the integrity of the Acholi people and its heritage, which are being tainted by the actions of the paramount chief. He notes that they have since formed an interim committee to steer the cultural institution for the next three months as they make necessary adjustments and restructure the management of the institution.

The chiefs have since elected the Atiak Clan Chief Santos Apire as the interim Paramount Chief who will be deputized by John Ogenga Otika, the clan chief of Labongo Amida in Kitgum District. Others on the interim committee are John Paul Lugai II, the Palwo Clan Chief in Pader District, Justine Ociti Binyi, the Chief of Pagak Clan, Collins Atiko Mutu, the clan chief of Patiko, and Ojok Michael Aginya the clan Chief of Bwobo.

The Acholi Cultural Institution Prime Minister, Ambrose Olaa dismissed the claims of leadership change at the cultural institution in a statement he issued Wednesday.  He said that the institution has taken note of the issues being raised and is organizing a meeting with the Executive Council of Chiefs and the Council of Chiefs to deliberate and resolve the matter.

“Until such a time, the public is urged to remain calm and wait for the right communication from Ker Kwaro Acholi,” he said.

Rwot Acana in another statement called for an emergency General Council meeting of the chiefs on July 8 at the Cultural Institution. Rwot Acana was installed on January 15 2005 as the 24th traditional chief of the Payira clan. He replaced his father Godfrey Erecenia Acana who died in October 1999.

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