Oryema's Children Disagree Over Reburial Plans

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In short
At least five children of the late Lt Col. Wilson Erinayo Oryema, the former Inspector General of Police have disagreed with their siblings over plans by the Uganda government to rebury their late father.

At least five children of the late Lt Col. Wilson Erinayo Oryema, the former Inspector General of Police are protesting plans by the government to rebury their late father.
Oryema became head of police after Uganda’s independence in 1962 before he was removed after the 1971 military coup. He went on to serve as minister for Lands in the Idi Amin government until February 1977 when he fell out with Amin and was killed. On February 16, 1977, Oryem was killed together with the then Interior minister Oboth Ofumbi and Archbishop Janan Luwum of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda and Mboga-Zaire, after the government accused them of treason.
Recently, the Uganda Police Force announced that Oryema would be given an official burial as part of the activities to mark 100 years of the police in Uganda.
But his children, most of whom still in the diaspora, say they have not been consulted. In their letter dated June 12, 2014 and addressed to the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura, the children demand that the police communicate to them officially.
In their letter, the Oryema family stated that whereas as they appreciate and welcome the gesture of reburying their father during the centenary celebrations, they are concerned about the statement that 'the Police are in touch with the family.”
They state that the person the Police are in touch with, who they believe is their eldest sister, is not the representative of the family. Three of Oryema’s children live in Uganda, while five others live in different countries including the United Kingdom, United States, France and Canada.
Those living in Uganda are William Dwoka Oryema, Mary Onen and Joyce Odur. The family notes that none of them is aware of any consultations regarding the planned reburial.
The family has instructed their Attorney, Jude Ogik, to make further inquiry on the extent of the alleged consultations with the family, the persons involved and report his findings to IGP Kayihura.
The Oryema family also states that the land on which their late father was buried in Tangi, present Nwoya district, is their rightful home and heritage, although they are currently being denied access to it by their eldest sister.
Without naming the elder sister, the Oryema family in the diaspora says she has mismanaged and vandalized the estate of their late father while continuing to intimidate them.
The family wants the Uganda Police Force communicate officially to their attorney on intention to rebury the late IGP, and that the body of the late Oryema should not be reburied anywhere else but where it currently lies. The houses destroyed during the insurgency should be reconstructed and other properties like cattle and farm machinery looted or destroyed be compensated for among others.
The letter was signed by Geoffrey Ocheng Oryema  who lives France,  Betty Atim Oryema, Irene Awor Oryema and  Anna Abalo Oryema from the UK, and Pamela Abwoyo Acemah inToronto, Canada and copied to William Dwoka Oryema , Mary Amony Onen, Joyce Abum Odur, and lawyer Jude Ogik.
When contacted, Ogik confirmed that the family was yet to agree on the reburial. He says the Oryema children are blaming their elder sister Auma Oryema for this whole project. He however says he is yet to deliver the letter to the IGP.
Attempts to hear from Auma were futile as her contact could not be established by the time of filling this report.
Who is Lt Col Wilson Erinayo Oryema?
Oryema  was born on  1 January 1917 in the current Nwoya district. He worked as a primary school teacher before joining the police force in 1939.
He attended Britain’s renowned Peel Centre, the prestigious Police Training Academy at Hendon, as well as Brownshill near Coventry. He was appointed the first African Inspector General of the Uganda Police on the 17th April 1964 by then Prime Minister Apollo Milton Obote.  Oryema succeeded Michael Macoun who became advisor to the Uganda Government, before leaving the country in September 1964. Oryema left the police in January 1971 after the coup which saw Obote unseated while he attended a Commonwealth conference in Singapore.
Oryema was promoted to Lt. Colonel in the Uganda Army and he commanded the Tiger Battalion at Mubende. He also accepted the post of Minister of Lands, Water and Mineral Resources from 1971 to 1974 and Minister of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning from 1974 to 1977.
In February 1977, Oryema, together with Archbishop Janani  Luwum and Interior Minister Charles Oboth Ofumbi, were arrested on treason charges. On February 16th they were paraded before a military gathering at the Nile Mansions in Kampala, where their charges were read to them as the army shouted “kill them, kill them.”
The suspects were whisked away for interrogation. The following day, government media announced that the three had died in a fatal accident. The government said that their car had a head-on collision with another car after they tried to overpower the driver and escape.
In his book, State of Blood, written later that year, Henry Kyemba who was Amin’s health minister until 1977 noted that the three were killed inside Nakasero State Research Bureau on the orders or in the presence of Idi Amin himself.


About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.