Pointers To Untangling The Simon Toolit Disappearance Saga


Moses Odokonyero_closeup pix

Simon Toolit Akecha, the former Member of Parliament for Omoro County (2006-2011) in Gulu district and a candidate in the February parliamentary elections has vanished.

Mr Toolit, according to his son, who was with him in the same house, was abducted by armed men at around 3 am on Wednesday morning from his home in African Quarters, Pece Division in Gulu municipality.

A case of his disappearance was reported to Gulu Central Police on Wednesday by his brother, Simon Odongkara, according to police in Gulu.

At the time of his disappearance, Mr Toolit was challenging in court the declaration by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Deputy Speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah as winner of the Omoro parliamentary seat.

Toolit is a member of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).  Oulanyah is a member of the ruling NRM party.

The fight between the two men has been acrimonious.

For Oulanyah, one of the most powerful men in the country—the stakes are high; the Omoro seat is the base for his current job, and his future political ambitions. Losing it would be a massive setback for a man whose political star, on the face of it, is on the rise.

Wagging tongues are quickly pointing an accusing finger at Oulanyah. But no evidence has emerged to suggest that the Deputy Speaker has a hand in the disappearance of his opponent.

Toolit’s sudden disappearance is puzzling. If you speak to his party colleagues they will tell you he is not the ‘‘sharp’’ type who can play ‘‘politricks’’ to engineer his own abduction.  In fact, privately, they say if Toolit was a sharp man, his votes would not have been ‘‘stolen’’ by Oulanyah.

Even if the stakes are high, Oulanyah also doesn’t seem the type who can plot the abduction of an opponent. It would be politically too risky for his politics in Acholi. But yet he also belongs to a party (fused with the state) whose modus operandi includes occasional abduction of opponents and critics.

On the day Toolit vanished, his lawyers were scheduled to cross- examine their last witness— Benson Obete—the Gulu EC registrar (they cross-examined him). Technically, Toolit’s disappearance makes no legal contribution to his case against Oulanyah (June 8 is when court will deliver verdict).

Toolit and Oulanyah are politicians. People will be inclined to speculate that Toolit’s disappearance is because of politics.

Jacob Oulanyah, high as he is in national politics, is like the proverbial prophet unloved at home.  On the day he was declared winner of the Omoro seat by the Electoral Commission, a crowd yelled at him ‘‘Lakwo, lakwo’’ [thief, thief] as he sped off at break neck speed in his ritzy car [ a car in his convoy took a stone or two].

By contrast, it was pomp for the other political victors who honked, danced and celebrated on the streets with their supporters.

Street talk is abound with whispers that Oulanyah likes to ‘‘eat alone’’ and can throw you to the wolves as soon as he realizes you pose a ‘‘risk to his eating’’—that Oulanyah is blindly one directional in his ambitions while ignoring the rest of the world around him. For this reason, Oulanyah does not have many friends among the Acholi political class. This is a weakness that makes the Omoro County MP vulnerable to attacks from blackmailers.

Toolit doesn’t strike one as a ‘‘deal maker’’ yet this very weakness can, from anyone who wants to strike a deal with him, including himself, be turned into a strength, goes one  theory.

Uganda is a country teeming with formal and informal security , or so they say. The State should know where Toolit is, posits another theory.

The third theory is that Toolit could have ‘‘abducted himself’’ to create a ground for striking a deal mediated by an NRM leaning lawyer from Acholi.

At the time of writing this piece, news had  come in that an unknown group of armed people had attacked a military detach in Opit in Omoro County, killing one soldier and taking away eight guns.It is too early to say whether the attacked is linked to Toolit’s disappearance. But as they say, in Uganda everything is possible.

Mr Odokonyero has interest in media development, communications& public affairs