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DPP objects to Francis Onebe’s bail application

Francis Onebe appears in court. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP has asked the High Court in Kampala to deny bail to businessman Francis Onebe who is accused of murdering his wife.

Onebe who is also an accountant is jointly charged with Bonny Oriekot, a private security guard attached to Pentagon Security Company for the murder of his wife Immaculate Mary Blessing Asio Onebe.

Asio went missing on January 6, 2021 and a case of suspected kidnap was reported by Onebe at Kabalagala police station. But upon thorough investigations, Asio’s body was found decomposing in a septic tank at their matrimonial home in Munyonyo, nine months later on September 7, 2021.

Onebe and his co-accused were later arraigned before the Makindye Magistrates Court and charged with murder, and subsequently sent on remand to Kitalya prison where they have been since then.

But on November 19, 2021, through his lawyers led by Moses Ingura, Onebe asked to be released on bail on grounds that he is suffering from chronic prostate cancer, high blood pressure saying they are ailments associated with advanced age. He is 63 years old.

Onebe added that he is a man with a number of responsibilities including being an executive director of companies such as Pentagon Security Limited which employees more than 2,000 Ugandan citizens, and being a managing partner of Price and King, an audit firm employing more than 30 people.

Onebe who also says he is the non-Executive Director Board Members of Post Bank Uganda added that his services are highly required for the survival of the said companies and he cannot render them while in prison.

He also presented his sister Dr. Jennifer Rose Aduwo, the Dean of School of Distance Learning and Information Technology at Uganda Management Institute, his Price and King Audit Managing Partner Robert Mukasa, village mates Pascal Achelu and John Francis Olume Igwoko as his sureties such that he can be granted bail.

However, when the case came up for hearing on Tuesday before the High Court Criminal Division Judge Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa, although the parties were asked to put in written submissions in the matter, the Principal State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya had already come with an affidavit opposing Onebe’s release on bail.

In the affidavit seen by Uganda Radio Network, sworn by Detective Assistant Superintendent of Police Nobert Ochom, states that Onebe should be denied bail because he was placed on a watch list following the disappearance of his wife and instructed not to move outside Kampala without express permission of the investigators.

However, the evidence on record shows that Ochom got information on September 6, 2021 that Onebe was secretly exiting Uganda to London via Nairobi on purported medical grounds and that’s when they arrested him and a search was done at his home where the partially decomposing body that was later found to be for his wife was found.

The investigator further said that they found when Onebe had freshly painted his sitting-room after the disappearance of the wife and since then, other critical investigations of a highly scientific nature at his home are still ongoing.

However, the office of the DPP contends that in the course of carrying out investigations, Ochom together with his colleague detective Constable Jacob Okello received numerous calls from various individuals in positions of authority purporting to be acting on Onebe’s behalf influencing investigations to be done in his favor.

“That these incidents of influence peddling by the agents of the applicant have been brought to the attention of police leadership and confidential investigations are being carried out in that regard”, reads the affidavit in objection.

It adds, “that the investigators have since lived under immense threat of personal security and intimidation from persons claiming to act on behalf of the applicant”.

“On 10/9/2021, one of the investigators in the case Detective Constable Obadia Hakiri attached to Kabalagala police station was mysteriously killed in a purported “road accident” along Jinja road only for his body to be discovered dumped in the City mortuary. The circumstance of his death is now under investigation…. “, reads the affidavit.

The evidence submitted to court further shows that Onebe is likely to interfere with witnesses because in September when he was being taken to Special Investigations Department of Police in Kireka, he reportedly told his co accused not to disclose anything to police.

Ochom wants Onebe denied bail saying he is a flight risk, has a permanent place of residence in Nairobi and that he is a very influential person who owns an armed security company, where some of witnesses are supposed to come from.

The judge has now asked for written submissions to be put on court record by December 28, 2021 and his ruling will be on January 6, 2022.

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