LIRA. Business came to a standstill in Lango principal trade and political capital as the military chopper carrying the body of Col Charles Okello Engola touched down on Thursday morning.
Lira City was thrown into a frenzy as the military chopper rumbled and circled over before landing at the airfield on the city’s northern outskirts.
Hundreds of mourners quickly closed shops and abandoned the city markets as they rushed to the aerodrome to see the body of Col (rtd) Engola, which lain motionless in a coffin draped in Uganda’s national colours.
Pte Wilson Sabiti shot dead Col Engola, the Oyam North MP, before turning the gun on himself on May 2, 2023. Pte Sabiti was Col Engola’s bodyguard.
Postmortem report says Engola was shot 28 times while his personal assistant, Lt Ronald Otim, who is still hospitalised, was shot seven times. No conclusive motive has been established for the shooting.
As soon as the plane touched down at 10.30am, thousands of mourners poured onto the airstrip, breaking through the heavy and tight security cordon.
Dozens of boda boda motorcycle taxi riders stood on their motorcycles, while hundreds more of other mourners climbed anthills and trees to have a clearer view the UPDF chopper.
“Even if the killer is dead, God must punish him for taking the life of our brother,” a woman wailed as she ran towards heavily armed soldiers who stood guard at the airfield.
A thick and long queue of people snaked its way along the one-mile distance from the heart of Lira City to the airfield, hoping to have a glimpse of the casket in case it was to be transported by vehicle. But their hopes were dashed as the body of Col Engola was again lifted off by the UPDF chopper to Oyam Town where the Lango District Councils had gathered to pay tribute and last respects to Col Engola.
Col Engola becomes the second public figure in Lango to be accorded such love after former President Dr Apollo Milton Obote, who attracted thousands of people to escort his casket from Lira City to Akokoro, his home village in Apac District.
The remains of Col Engola were laid to rest on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at his ancestral home at Awangi Village, Iceme Sub-county in Oyam District.
The Rev Can Jacky Milton Otto Olima, the Archdeacon of Lira Urban West Archdeaconry, assured the mourners that Col Engola’s soul is already resting in Heaven.
Col Engola leaves behind five children and 19 grandchildren.
About Col Engola
Born October 12, 1958, to Jago (chief) Nasan Engola and Ketula Engola of Awangi Village, Iceme Sub-county, Oyam District.
Appointed minister of state for Defense on June 6, 2016, replacing Gen Jeje Odongo, who was named Minister of Internal Affairs.
At the time of his death, Col Engola was MP for Oyam North County.
He succumbed to gunshot injuries after being shot by his bodyguard on May 2, 2023.
He attended primary school in Iceme Sub-county, Lango, and Soroti Secondary School, eastern Uganda. He attained a Bachelor of Development Studies in 2010 and Master of Public Administration and Management in 2013 from Kampala International University.
Engola also served as commander of UPDF 501 Brigade, headquartered at Opit in present-day Omoro District and spearheaded the fight against the LRA. He was promoted to Colonel and retired from the military in 2007.
Engola contested for the LC5 top seat in Oyam District and won and was re-elected in 2011, serving out 10 unbroken years on the ruling NRM political party ticket.
He won the Oyam North MP seat in 2021 and served until his death on May 2, 2023.