Landlord refunds NUP office rent money citing security intimidation

The National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters at their office in Kitgum

Kitgum, Uganda | URN | A landlord in Kitgum municipality in northern Uganda has returned the money paid by the National Unity Platform (NUP) party to establish an office on his premises citing intimidation from security.

NUP reportedly paid Shs 400,000 in August 2020 for two-month rent to Bosco Oloya Oboni, a businessman in Kitgum municipality for office space on his building in Pandwong Division.

The office was meant to coordinate NUP activities in East Acholi covering Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader and Agago districts ahead of the 2021 general elections. However, security blocked the operations of the office, saying the party officials didn’t make a formal request to set up their operations. The office has remained under lock and key since then.

Oboni said on Wednesday 7, October 2020 that he decided to refund the rent fees because of intimidation by security. According to Oboni, he had never faced such intimidation before renting his room to NUP party members.

“I have refunded their money because security couldn’t open their offices and as a local man, I couldn’t pull ropes with security over the matter,” said Oboni.

Oboni says to be on a safe side, he won’t rent the room to any other political party now or in the future, adding that he intends to repaint the house and remove the NUP party colours.

According to the source, Oboni has also been under pressure from Kitgum municipal council officials for allegedly deviating from the original use of the building plan that was approved.

Kitgum town clerk, Emmanuel Banya told this publication that he wasn’t aware of the allegations. Banya notes that municipal officials often issue letters to property owners reminding them to acquire occupancy permits before using them.

He notes that Oboni could be among the several property owners who hadn’t paid for the occupation permits but were already using their buildings for commercial purposes.

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According to the Building Control (fees) Regulations 2020, any structure, including a house is required to obtain an occupancy permit before use. Samuel Obedgui, the NUP party regional liaison officer said that they are facing challenges of establishing offices in northern Uganda due to the continue intimidation of property owners by security.

He says they faced similar challenges in West Nile region recently where most property owners denied them office space after purportedly being bribed or threatened by security. Apparently, NUP has one stable regional office in Gulu city, which was launched last month to coordinate activities within Acholi and West Nile region.

Kitgum resident district commissioner, William Komakech who also heads the district security committee denied allegations that Oboni was intimidated. “Why should Oboni live in fear, what kind of intimidation anyway, there wasn’t any intimidation,” he said.