By Nkonge I Kaggwa in Kampala – Uganda
A Number of politicians and former abductees in Northern Uganda are falling over themselves to travel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to give evidence in the case of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen who has been handled over to the ICC after handing himself over in the Central African Republic early this year.
Addressing a press conference here in Kampala, the Chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary group and Member of Parliament representing the Forum for Democratic Change in Aswa County, Gulu District, Mr Reagan Okumu confirmed that the people of Northern Uganda are now lining up witnesses to testify both for and against Gen Ongwen, himself a former abductee. The witnesses being lined up shall include, Titus Obari and his wife who is now a councillor and once LRA abductees, Ombakatira and Atima Ngom who was a formal wife to Ongwen.
Okumu who was a member of the presidential team tasked with helping bring peace to Northern Uganda and was among the arbiters of the 19 year long rebellion in the Northern parts of the country, was involved in the negotiations between the LRA and government to put an end to the war in 2007 in the Juba peace deals whose results are up to date unknown. He revealed that a group of legal experts have been lined up to ensure that Ongwen gets justice. He pointed out that the surrendering of Ongwen is a blessing to the people of Acholi and Lango sub-regions as a lot of lies had been fade to Ugandans including the ICC. “Ongwen is now in the hands of the ICC. No doubt about that, no dispute at all. Now what we wait for is the future date to see when he is to appear before the ICC,” Okumu said. He reiterated that people have always wanted to know what happened to its people and want to know their future He said all this is now in the hands of the ICC. “Ongwen’s prosecution in this court is a blessing in disguise,” he added.
He disclosed that his people have evidence that government committed atrocities in the war and pledged to produce a publication containing all evidence soon. “Data set to be published has names, dates, places and time, where and when the atrocities were committed .We have collected data right from Soroti up to the Acholi sub-region, the balance sheet of crimes at 50-50 between 1986 to 1993, when over 90 per cent of the deaths committed was done by government forces and between 1994 to 2006 when atrocities were committed as revenge when Betty Bigombe (a former state minister for Northern Uganda) organized over 12,000 arrow groups that led to mass killings,” he claimed.