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Wednesday,October 28,2020 23:47 PM

Reverend sues Church of Uganda

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th September 2020 10:41 PM

Rev. Charles Oode Okunya contends that the House of Bishops, without giving him any hearing, unilaterally made a decision to revoke his election and barred his name from ever coming up in future elections, which he says is against the principles of natural justice.

Reverend sues Church of Uganda

Rev. Charles Okunya Oode. File/Photo

Rev. Charles Oode Okunya contends that the House of Bishops, without giving him any hearing, unilaterally made a decision to revoke his election and barred his name from ever coming up in future elections, which he says is against the principles of natural justice.

The Rev. Charles Oode Okunya has petitioned court challenging a decision by the Trustees of Church of Uganda (COU) to revoke his election as Bishop of Kumi Diocese.

He has also sued COU for barring his name from appearing among other candidates for the same position in the fresh search.
On November 19, last year, the House of Bishops elected Okunya Kumi diocese bishop after a thorough vetting process.

However, then Archbishop Stanley Ntagali halted his consecration, which was scheduled for December 16, last year. The move was over allegations raised against Okunya concerning his first relationship with Dinah Amongin and the resultant children.
Okunya says the COU trustees then sent a verification committee of three bishops to Kumi Diocese to investigate the matter.

The clergyman says to his surprise, the House of Bishops sat on Feburary 1 this year and revoked his election as bishop. He adds that they based their decision on allegations of anomalies in age, which, he says was not part of the investigations.

In the February 5, 2020 letter, the archbishop said the House of Bishops reviewed five documents to establish Okunya's actual age after receiving petitions from concerned Christians in Kumi.

They reviewed Okunya's national identity card, National Identification and Registration Authority records, passport, academic records from Uganda Christian University and those submitted by the diocese during the vetting processes.

One year short of eligible age The records indicate that Okunya was born on November 23, 1975, indicating that he was a year short of the age at which one can become bishop in line with Article 13 (6) of the Provincial Constitution and Canons 3.6.1, 3.6.2 and 3.7.23 of the Church of Uganda Provincial Canons.

"Given the fact that Rev. Okunya was involved in the activities to knowingly falsify his actual age, the House of Bishops resolved that his name should not come up among any future candidates. It is regrettable that the House had to come to this decision but at the same time, it was necessary to protect the integrity of COU and to ensure that strict adherence is made to the laws that govern the Church," the then archbishop's letter read.

"I sought to get a copy of the report of the House of Bishops from the archbishop and resolutions arrived at to revoke my appointment, to no avail.

I only got to know the revocation of my appointment through newspaper reports," Okunya said.

He purports that the archbishop deliberately ignored, refused and or neglected to give him a copy of the report of the House of Bishops and the resolutions reached, to date.

Okunya to the contrary states that he was born on November 23, 970 and, therefore, eligible to be elected bishop as considered by the nomination committee and the House of Bishops prior to his election. He attached his birth certificate and immunisation card to the court documents as evidence.

He contends that prior to his election, he submitted a statutory declaration in respect of his age among other documents to the Kumi diocesan nominations committee, which made presentations to the House of Bishops as required under COU Provincial Constitution.

He said on this basis, the House of Bishops considered him fit to be Bishop of Kumi Diocese and the archbishop confirmed his election.

Kumi Christians petition Okunya contends that the House of Bishops, without giving him any hearing, unilaterally made a decision to revoke his election and barred his name from ever coming up in future elections, which he says is against the principles of natural justice.

The clergyman claims that because of the defendant's action, over 7,500 Christians of Kumi Diocese have petitioned the archbishop to ensure he is consecrated as bishop.

The reverend says because of the COU trustees' actions, his name has been soiled and he has suffered economic loss, inconvenience, psychological torture and mental anguish for which he seeks damages.

Okunya filed the suit against COU's registered trustees in the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala on September 14, 2020, arguing that the revocation of his election as bishop is illegal.

He seeks a declaration that the impugned decision of the House of Bishops, barring his name from appearing among other candidates for the same position is illegal.

"The defendant is already in high gear searching for other candidates to fill the position of Bishop of Kumi Diocese," the clergyman contends.

Rev. Okunya wants a court order restraining COU's registered trustees, its agents, servants, or employees from further conducting the search and subsequent appointment of another bishop until his case has been determined. He wants court to direct COU trustees to consecrate and enthrone him as Bishop of Kumi Diocese in addition to seeking damages and costs of the suit. 

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