The House of Bishops has banned Rev. Charles Oode Okunya from taking part in the future contest for Kumi Diocese. Rev. Okunya had earlier on been elected by the House of Bishops in November, 2019 as Bishop of Kumi diocese but his consecration and enthronement were called off.
In his letter to Kumi Diocesan Chancellor, Emmanuel Ilukor, the Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali notes that Rev. Okunya was disqualified because of his age. In the February 5th, 2020 letter, the Archbishop noted that the House of Bishops reviewed five documents to establish Rev. Okunya’s actual age after receiving petitions from concerned Christians in Kumi.
He notes that the bishops, sitting in Mityana on February 1st reviewed Rev. Okunya’s National Identity Card, NIRA records, Passport, academic records from Uganda Christian University and those submitted by the diocese during the vetting processes.
The records indicate that Rev. Okunya was born on November 23rd, 1975, indicating that he was a year younger to attain the age of becoming a bishop in line with Article 13  of the Provincial Constitution and Canons 3.6.1, 3.6.2 and 3.7.23 of the Church of Uganda Provincial Canons.
“The House of Bishops took into consideration the fact that information on age was provided by the Reverend himself to the various organizations and offices indicated above and came up with the conclusion that the statutory declaration sworn on the 25th day of September, 2019 was false…All the documents were consistent on the age and that could not have been a coincidence”, part of the letter reads.
The letter, in part, concluded that Rev. Okunya’s name shouldn’t be submitted in the subsequent election processes for Kumi Diocese.
“Given the fact that Rev. Okunya was involved in the activities to knowingly falsify his actual age, the House of Bishops resolved that his name should not come up among any future candidates. It is regrettable that the House had to come to this decision but at the same time, it was necessary to protect the integrity of the Church of Uganda and to ensure that strict adherence is made to the laws that govern the Church”, the letter continues.
The decision by the province has drawn mixed reactions from Christians in the diocese. Ezekiel Amaitum, one of the Christians at St. Phillips Cathedral in Ngora district questions why the House of Bishops failed to do due diligence during the vetting processes before presenting Rev. Okunya as Bishop- elect.
“There were many allegations brought before that committee. It confirms that there was foul play from the onset of this whole processes. Since Rev. Okunya’s mistake is so grave to an extent that his name should NEVER appear on any list, he should then be dismissed. Unless there is something I don’t know, which is more than age”, he said in his text.
Kenneth Aede, a Christian at St. Phillips Cathedral in Soroti is concerned with the manner in which Rev. Okunya’s fate was communicated through social media.
“What will be the aftermath of this letter on the person of Reverend in question? Anyway, some decisions we make as Christians can either destroy or build us”, he posted on WhatsApp group. Both Emmanuel Ilukor, the Kumi Diocesan Chancellor and Rev. Capt. Moses Okello, the Diocesan Secretary declined to comment on the matter, claiming that they had not received any official communication from the province.
“We are only reading about this development on social media
but the said letter has not reached our desks. We Cannot, therefore, comment on
the matter that is not formal”, the officers said in different phone interface.