By Andrew Irumba
The other day, a Karamojong friend of mine threw a joke at me; “Irumba caali, I sympathize with you because you (Batooro) make shs500/= and eat shs700/=,” he said! So I also looked for one jab to throw back, and I went like….”You K’jongs up to now think that every herd of cattle belongs to you”! We both laughed off the jokes as we parted.
But today, on learning that Human Rights Activist Lawyer Nicholas Opio’s money laundering charges had been dropped by DPP, this same K’jong called again. “Hey…Irumba, do you know in this country there are people working with FIA (Financial Intelligence Authority) who think like us….the K’jongs, that every big money must belong to certain group of people! otherwise, how would they arrest poor Opio, deny him his X-mas with family and later simply drop charges?” he asked.
DPP’s Statement Withdrawing Charges
Well, last week Tuesday, The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo ‘decided to discontinue proceedings’ against human rights lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo. Opiyo was in December 2020 arrested from a restaurant in Kamwokya and charged with money laundering after his now closed NGO, Chapter Four received USD 340,000.
Whereas the case has been on going in the Court, High Court judge Lawrence Gidudu last week issued an ultimatum of seven days to government to complete investigations against Opiyo in the money laundering case or have the charges against him terminated.
“The court is mandated to balance the right of the State to prosecute offenders to punish crime in society with the right of an accused to have a fair, speedy and public trial before an impartial court. Consequently, I make the following orders to dispose of this application,” held Justice Gidudu.
“The prosecution (DPP) is given seven days from the date hereof, to commit the applicant (lawyer Opiyo) for trial before the High Court and disclose its case to the accused. For the avoidance of doubt, this is before the closure of business on September 15, 2021 (this Wednesday),” he added.
The judge further warned that should the DPP fail to commit Opiyo to the High Court for trial, his case shall be terminated. “If after September 15, the applicant (Opiyo) has not been committed for trial to the High Court, then the prosecution of the applicant in criminal case 106 of 2020 shall stand terminated under section 17 (2) of the Judicature Act to prevent abuse of the process of the court by curtailing delays in prosecuting the applicant. There are no orders as to costs,” Justice Gidudu further ordered.