OPM relief Martin Owor house
Police find relief items in OPM commissioner Martin Owor's house. FILE PHOTO

Police searches OPM Commissioner Martin Owor house recovers several relief items belonging to UNHCR

Tororo District Police officers on Friday 10th, April 2020, raided Martin Owor house, the Commissioner in charge of Disaster Preparedness in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Maguria B Village Rubongi Sub-County, Tororo District.

The raid follows a tip from locals indicating that many relief items belonging to UNHCR were kept in commissioner Martin Owor house.

During the search, Police ceased hundreds of boxes of relief items, including Jeri cans, blankets, and boxes of soap, mosquito nets, sowing machines, plastic cups and plates, gumboots and other items with the UNHCR label.

The items were then taken to the Tororo Central Police Station for storage as the investigation continues.

By 10 am, Tororo Police operatives had already camped at the home of Martin Owor, the Commissioner in Charge of Disaster Preparedness in the OPM, but they had to wait close to 6 hours to have the local leaders around during the search.

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After their arrival, Police had to break into the house with the LC.1 guidance since it was locked.

The recovered UN items added up to 22 bags of maize flour, bags of beans, and 19 bags of rice also with UNHCR picked at Owor’s brother’s house.

“We recovered 22 bags of posho packed in those bags of UNHCR, we recovered 19 bags of rice that’s 50, 50, kg, we also recovered some beans and then finally at this place where we are at the home of Mr Owor Martin, we’ve been able to recover quite a several items ranging from the yellow jerry cans you see, marked UNHCR, we recovered sowing machines, we recovered blankets, cups, plates and quite some small, small items,” District Police Commander, Rogers Chebene said.

Chebene says according to the information they received from the informant, the relief items were brought to Owor’s house at the time he acted in charge of delivery of different relief items to Bulambuli and Bubuda people who were affected by the floods.

“From the informant, he stated that the items were being kept here, were items belonging to UNHCR, and that these items were brought to this place at a time when the owner of this place Mr Owor Martin was in charge of delivery of different assortments to the areas of Bududa and Bulambuli,” Chebene said.

He says the items will be kept at Tororo Central Police Station as investigations proceed to establish whether Owor’s house was the real destination for the items or not.

“We’re carrying them to Police that’s CPS Tororo, and as we do that, investigations are going to commence to establish whether this was the proper destination of these properties or they were brought here wrongly,” Chebene noted.

Relief items in Martin Owor
Police searches OPM Commissioner Martin Owor house recovers several relief items belonging to UNHCR

The new development aroused shortly after Owor together with other 3 colleagues including; the Accounting Officer, Joel Wanjala, the Assistant Commissioner Procurement, Fred Lutimba, and the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Christine Kintu Guwatudde were picked up by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit for allegations regarding hiking prices of COVID-19 relief food, and now they are under police custody as the investigation continues.

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The four arrested officials on Friday were later transferred to the Special Investigation Unit in Kireka for further interrogation.

And according to Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, the culprits are likely to spend Easter holiday in custody since it’s a weekend.

“Directorate of Criminal Investigations is working closely with the Anti- Corruption State House Unit, that’s actively involved in the investigation of the scandal, the alleged scandal at OPM in the purchase of food supplies,” Enanga said.

“And also bringing out our handwriting experts from the Directorate of Forensic to help in evaluating and examining the many documents that were involved, because this is a massive project, it’s a matter of public interest and the whole country is focused on the investigation,” Enanga added.

The group is accused of inflating food prices for the COVID-19 relief currently under distribution. Before the four were transferred to Kireka, each spent a night in a separate police station.

“You find some of those public offices under the criminal justice system not working. So, we shall be looking at how we can move faster immediately after the Easter holiday,” Enanga said.