Jubilation in Lira after alleged land graber remanded

03 Feb 2024

On Friday 2nd February jubilations and ululations rocked Lira City as victims of land grabbing and impunity that has for years been exhibited by Betty Amongi’s leading campaigner  tycoon Geoffrey Etwop, was finally brought to an end.

Claiming to have deep connections everywhere in Uganda and more so State House, Etwop had distinguished himself as an untouchable land grabber who never spared even public land if it belonged to the Government of Uganda.

He had strong backers and collaborators inside the land board that was in charge before Lira was elevated to city status. These would help in falsification of documents to enable the land defrauding in favor of Etwop. His luck ran out on Friday when security operatives the state house anti corruption unit swung into action and arraigned Etwop in the court.

His remand to prison excited many.

There has been a lot of excitement because Etwop, a renowned social climber, had succeeded leveraging his position of being the NRM treasurer for Lira district to obliterate and silence whoever raised a finger demanding inquiry into his wrongful actions. Large crowds gathered to see the notorious fortune-hunter struggle to hold back tears inside Lira Chief Magistrate Court premises.

He clearly looked like a man who has irredeemably fallen on hard times as curtains fell on him. The incorruptible Chief Magistrate remanded him to Lira Main Prison moments after he had been harvested like chicken thief from his hideout in Kampala on the previous day, Thursday 1st February.

The proprietor of Rahino Oil Petrol Station, Amulam Building and a pharmacy business (besides notoriously heading the Ober clan) had for years endured reputational damage as his name kept being implicated in numerous fraudulent land transactions inside Lira City.

He has also been confusion-mongering among the adherents of the Pentecostal Assembly of God (PAG) Church; culminating into the creation of the new faction or break away denomination called ‘Yahweh Pentecostal Church Ministry.’

Having calculated poorly, the much-dreaded Geoffrey Etwop’s luck ran out on Thursday when he ineptly stormed State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) offices in Kampala with bundles of ‘bloody money’ with intent to wet the beaks of key decision-makers at SHACU whose incorruptibility he underestimated. The investigators at SHACU responded in a way that left the flat-footed kiwaani tycoon from Lira regretting the day he was born.

Likening his act to unacceptable kamanyiro/familiarity, the ruthless SHACU operatives responded by promptly cancelling the ill-fated kiwaani tycoon’s bond, an act that was followed with him getting hand-cuffed and being pushed behind bars.

He wailed like a demon-possessed orphan but this never caused the SHACU operatives to relent. Initially, he was booked inside Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) until Friday morning when he was driven to Lira City where he is alleged to have fraudulently acquired several plots of prime public land and open spaces.

Upon arrival in Lira City, the now tearful and clearly knackered kiwaani tycoon was herded inside the Chief Magistrates Court from where he was assured time had come for him to pay for his sins. It was before the incorruptible area Chief Magistrate Samson Abiti Loum that the hapless and clearly trimmed Geoffrey Etwop appeared.

The charge sheet indicates that the 55-year- old much hated Etwop is a resident of Junior Quarters Cell, Kirombe Ward in Lira City West Division. The same charge sheet discloses that Etwop fraudulently procured a certificate of title relating to Lira City Green Belt commonly known as Tipper State along Lira-Soroti road.

This mischief was done and orchestrated between August 2017 and November 2020 when the same piece of land into his Geoffrey Etwop’s and made ready for private use.In court, Etwop’s lawyer applied for bail but the relentless prosecutor (standing in for the Resident Chief State Attorney) objected making it clear that it had to strictly be his boss to respond to the same bail application.

The Magistrate then considered the request and adjourned the matter to 5th February 2024 when the cantankerous businessman is expected to appear for his bail application ruling. To many Lira City dwellers, the dehorning of Etwop was long over due. Many locals believe that Etwop’s obliteration by the incorruptible SHACU operatives will go a long way in cowing many would-be land grabbers in Lira City where land conveyancing is increasingly becoming a lucrative undertaking.

With ring leader, Etwop behind bars, there is growing optimism that public land in Lira City will become much safer than would ever have been the case if SHACU hadn’t intervened ostensibly at the prompting of the President who kept getting whistle blower petitions calling on him to weigh in and protect public land.

This investigative website has learnt that the State House Anti-corruption Unit has for long been pleading with Etwop to be remorseful and surrender back some of the land titles relating to land which he fraudulently acquired to avoid being humiliated but he remained adamant thinking that being known to Betty Amongi was insurance enough to shield him against being finally subdued by the long arm of the law. Several high profile personalities equally reached out rendering advice all of which Etwop overlooked insisting he was a veteran of the game and knows what he is doing.

The highly consequential SHACU has since 2018 been investigating matters to do with fraudulent land conveyancing in Lira City and Geoffrey Etwop’s name kept coming up. 

Realization that SHACU was serious and it wasn’t going to be business as usual, several fraudsters (including politicians and technocrats) became cowed and surrendered all the documentation/titles relating to the same land in return for amnesty to avoid being prosecuted but Geoffrey Etwop characteristically exaggerated his connections in Kampala and stuck to his guns vowing to go down fighting. 

And this has ended up being the case and he will require divine intervention to recover from the reputation damage his arrest, arraignment and remanding has occasioned.

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