Irate Gulu Mob Burn Church of Self-Proclaimed Prophet
An angry mob in Gulu on Sunday afternoon burnt a church belonging to a self- proclaimed prophet on allegations that he was a cult leader.
Yecu aye Got Makwo “Jesus the Living stone Ministries” is headed by ‘‘Bishop’’ Bataringaya Okumu.
The church is located in Kanyagoga parish, Bardege Division, Gulu municipality.
Police had a week ago banned the operations of the church.
However on Sunday, Okumu and hundreds of his followers, dressed in white opened the church for prayers, prompting residents to set it ablaze.
Bardege Division LCIII Chairperson Patrick Lumumba told Acholi Times that Okumu and his followers have been misleading the community.
“These people behave like mad people; they claim that they are possessed by Holy Spirit. Some of their members move with stones in their hands and enter people homes, their behavior scares children and every member in Kanyagoga Parish,” Lumumba said.
Lumumba said that the church leaders have also been banning their members from accessing medical treatments from hospitals and clinics claiming that they heal them through the Holy Spirit.
The LC3 Chairman further said that a man who is HIV positive stopped his medication and instead camped at the church to receive healing through prayers, leading to his death.
“We have learnt from the council of Pentecostal church in Gulu that Okumu was suspended because of his weird ways of conducting prayers,’’ added the LC3 Chair.
The Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema said on Monday that police had banned operation of the church for security reasons.
Police rushed to the scene of the church on Sunday and put off the fire on the church building set by an irate mob.
‘‘Bishop’’ Okumu was briefly arrested and charged with disobedience of lawful orders but released on police bond after making a statement.
Police warned that those who set the church building on fire will be brought to book.
Rev Patrick Okecha, the Chairman Born again Faith Federation in Acholi Sub-region said Okumu’s church was not registered because he practices a doctrine different from that of the other born again.
“Okumu is a self-styled pastor, he is not registered with born again faith federation. What he is practicing is witchcraft not preaching the gospel,” Rev Okecha said.
On Monday, hundreds of followers of Okumu held a peaceful demonstration and made a procession to the office of the Gulu Resident District Commissioner to protest arrest of their leader and destruction of their church.
This is not the first time Mr Okumu has had a brush with the law over his alleged running of a cult.
In April last year, he survived lynching by irate mob that descended on him after being accused of vandalizing a grave while allegedly removing fetishes in Lajwa Tek Village in Koro Sub-county in Omoro District. The area leaders also banned him from ever accessing the village to conduct prayers.