Gulu Council Acted Illegally In ‘‘Removing’’ CAO- Permanent Secretary
The Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Local Government Ben Kamumanya has described the resolution by Gulu District Local Council to remove embattled Gulu Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dorothy Magoola Ajwang as null and void.
In a letter dated March 16, 2017 and copied to Minister of Local Government, State Minister for Local Government, Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Solicitor General and the Town Clerks, among others, Kamumanya noted that the resolution passed by the council on March 1, 2017 is not in accordance with article 188 (2) and 200 (4) of the constitution.
The article states that ”the powers to exercise disciplinary control over the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), in the service district vested in Public Service Commission but not with the district’.
Furthermore Kamumanya says in his letter that under section 11 (1) g of the public finance management act 2015, the powers to remove the Accounting Officers of Local Governments is vested in the Secretary to the Treasury.
‘‘I wish to bring to your attention that the actions of the Gulu district Council of March 1, 2017 and the Gulu District Executive Committee was illegal and therefore null and void. Furthermore Ms Dorothy Ajwang Magoola is still, until otherwise advised, the Chief Administrative Officer and Accounting officer of Gulu district and should therefore be allowed to execute her duties without any inconveniences,” wrote Kamumanya.
The Permanent Secretary also observed that the Ministry (Local Government) has seen a rise in the number of districts and municipals executive committees have resorted to unlawful means in respect to removing Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks from their stations. He warned that such actions are illegal since the law does not provide for it.
On Tuesday last week there were ugly scenes at the Gulu District Administration block as four councilors led by Simon Peter Oola, the District Vice Chairperson stormed the office of the CAO demanding that she hands over official stamps, office keys and her official vehicle. The other councilors involved in the fracas which the Permanent Secretary now says was illegal were: Santa Oketa, Secretary for Community Services, Rose Amono Abili, Secretary for Education and Health and Patrick Kinyera, the Secretary for Works and Technical services.
Ajwang was rescued from the rowdy councilors by Martin Okoyo, the Gulu District Police Commander (DPC) after her office was locked. She briefly sought refuge and made a statement at the Gulu Central Police Station, just about 100 metres away from her office.
DPC Okoyo said a General Inquiry File under number GEF/2017 was opened at Gulu Central Police Station adding that police was investigating the four members of the district council for forcefully making their way in Ajwang’s office.
The letter of the permanent secretary is likely to be interpreted as a slap in the face of the political wing of Gulu district local government who for now, unless they get a way out, have to work with a CAO they wanted out of the district.