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Anglican Church in Uganda said Bishop elect had forged birth certificate

Anglican Church in Uganda said Bishop elect had forged birth certificate

By Godfrey Olukya
VOL African Correspondent
October 27, 2020

The Anglican Church in Uganda has accused the priest who went to court to contest the Church's act of revoking his consecration and enthronement of forging a birth certificate.

The Church said, the Rev. Charles Okunya Oode forged his year of birth from 1975 to 1970 to bring himself into the constitutional age bracket which he had not yet attained. The Church claims it is for that reason that the then Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali on December16th last year, revoked his consecration and enthronement.

In a written statement of defense filed at the High Court by the registered trustees of the Church of Uganda, the Church maintained that the election of the Rev. Okunya as Kumi bishop was initially void and that he cannot base his claim or derive any right or benefit from an election that in law never took place.

According to The Monitor newspaper the defense is in response to a suit filed by the Rev. Okunya on September 14 at the Kampala Civil Division against the registered trustees of the Church of Uganda, seeking an injunction to stop the election of another overseer until his suit is disposed of.

The Church, represented by Sebalu and Lule Advocates, noted that even though the Rev. Okunya had received a letter dated November 19, 2019, advising him that he had been elected bishop of Kumi Diocese, "the letter was written before it came to light that he had fraudulently changed his year of birth." the statement said.

It went on to say, "There was, accordingly, no election in law as the Rev. Okunya had, at the time of the purported election, not met the constitutional and canonical requirements to qualify for election as bishop."

"If there was a vetting process, such a process was marred by the Rev. Okunya's fraud, when he fraudulently and knowingly tampered with his documents to qualify for the office of bishop in the Church of Uganda, when he was not yet of age."

The Church also noted that the Rev. Okunya, being a member of the Church of Uganda, was enjoined to follow and observe the provisions of the Provincial Constitution of the Church and, to that extent, the institution of this suit was premature. The Church attached Okunya's national identity card, passport, records of places he studied and from electoral commission all indicating that he was born in 1975.

"The Rev. Okunya's assertion that he was born on September 23, 1970 was fraudulent, given the over eight independent documents from different government and educational institutions, where he personally submitted information indicating that he was born in 1975," the Church stated.

Okunya was elected bishop of Kumi Diocese in November 2019, after a thorough scrutiny of his curriculum vitae, that attached a national ID indicating his year of birth as 1975.

He, however, swore a statutory declaration saying the year of birth on his national ID was an error and that he was born in 1970.

The church elected him on the basis of the statutory declaration regarding his age. The church now contends that it elected Okunya on the basis that he had attained the age of 45, whereas not. He was supposed to be consecrated on December 29, last year.

The function was postponed indefinitely at the last minute, pending investigations over a petition raised by a section of Christians, who call themselves 'the Concerned Christians of Kumi Diocese'.

The Christians petitioned the Church of Uganda, raising queries over Okunya's marital status. On the eve of the consecration of the bishop-elect for Mityana Diocese, the Rev. Dr. James Bukomeko, (February 1), the House of Bishops in Mityana resolved to repeat the election process of the Kumi bishop.

They resolved that retired Bishop of Lango Diocese, Charles Odurkami should continue to oversee the diocese until 2021, when a new bishop is expected to be elected.

In their statement of defence, the Church said: "While it is true that the House of Bishops revoked the Rev. Okunya's election, in law, there was nothing to revoke and that the meeting was for record purposes only."


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