NORTHERN UGANDA: A plan for the reburial of Brigadier Pierino Okoya Yere, the former deputy commander of the Uganda Army, and his wife Anna Akello, has been postponed to August. The two were killed 52 years ago, from their home in Koro Village, in the present-day Omoro district.
The local committee for the reburial had scheduled to rebury Brigadier Okoya and his wife on Saturday in their home village of Bongo Tyet village, Palaro Sub County, Gulu District.
Preparations for the event were already underway, including the construction of a three-bedroomed house by the Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) Engineering Brigade, grave site clearance, and the opening of access roads to the home, among others.
Invitations for the event have also been sent out to different guests, including traditional, local, and national as well as religious leaders. However, President Museveni directed the local organizing committee to extend the reburial date to August 1.
In his communication through Brigadier General Charles Otema Awany, the Commander of the UPDF Reserve Forces, Museveni said that the reburial should be conducted when the house under construction is completed and also give him time to attend in person or delegate an official.
Rwot Yusuf Adek and Brigadier Okoya’s eldest surviving son, Gabriel Lajul, spent the majority of the evening persuading the family and Kal Pupan clan leaders to postpone the date.
Earlier, the family members and Pupan Clan, through their Chairperson Robert Akena, had objected to the request. They argued that three years ago the government dug graves for the two in the deceased’s home village and has since abandoned it.
However, they heeded the President’s request and extended the exercise until August, on a date that will be communicated later. By Thursday evening and Friday, dozens of family and clan members from distant places were already thronging the burial home, ready to attend the Saturday event.
Also, on Friday morning, the local organizing committee sent out announcements over the media about the postponement and stopped mourners from coming to the family, as earlier communicated. The reburial will require the exhumation of the two bodies and burying them in another grave.
In April 2019, the government deployed the UPDF Engineering Service Brigade from the Forth Division Army Barracks to construct and title graves for the reburial of the deceased couple. However, the government halted the reburial program because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which came with numerous restrictions, including a ban on public gatherings.