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Monday, 6 May 2013

Prominent Ugandan Opposition MP applies to adopt own children : MP Otto tries to adopt own kids

Otto and his wife, Juliet Oyulu and one of their children arrive at Parliament for his swearing-in

MP Otto tries to adopt own kids

Publish Date: May 05, 2013

By Carol Kasujja and Chris Kiwawulo

Aruu County MP Samuel Odonga Otto is embroiled in a court battle with the mother of his first two children, who is accusing him of swearing an affidavit in a bid to adopt them.

Grace Santa Acan, a medical doctor at St. Benedict Medical Centre, said she was shocked to learn that Otto had, without her knowledge, applied to Makindye Court to adopt his own children as their ‘uncle’.

According to court documents seen by Saturday Vision, Otto alleged that Acan had nine-year-old Twiggy Angioleta Anying and six-year-old Nicole Olowang with his brother, Alieri Der.

Otto claimed that he wanted to adopt his brother’s children because the brother (Der) was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in December 2006, from Kitgum district and had never been seen again.

However, Acan claims that this was a lie that Otto concocted to stealthily snatch the children. When contacted about the adoption allegations, Otto said his lawyers made a mistake in saying he wanted to adopt the children, yet he wanted custody.

“Who adopts his own children? Even in law, you are not allowed to adopt your own children. I just wanted to apply for custody of my children but because of my schedule, I instructed a junior lawyer to process all the documents. Instead, he filed for adoption and when he gave me the documents, I just signed without going through them. I did not know I was signing adoption forms,” he said.

Otto said since there was a provision in the civil procedure rules to make corrections, he would make the corrections. “I realise it was a fatal mistake, but we shall correct it. But I want my children to come and live with me and have a good life. Right now they are in poor conditions, yet I have the money.”

However, documents show that the law firm that drew and filed the affidavit (M/s Oyulu Odonga-Otto and Company advocates) belongs to the MP and his new wife, Juliet Oyulu.

Asked why he claimed that his brother had fathered the children and had been abducted by the LRA yet he was their biological father, Otto said; “Don’t push these things too far. I am looking for a way out.”

How it started

“In April 2012, Otto approached me and explained that his lawful wife (Juliet Oyulu), had acquired a green card online and registered their three children (with Oyulu) to go and live in America,” Acan said. Once one has acquired a green card, they become American citizens.

Acan added that since Otto has other children with her (Acan), he also wanted them included on the green card so that they could have a better life in America. “When I heard that he wanted to adopt his own children, I thought it was a joke. I consulted a lawyer friend and she told me that it was impossible for a father to adopt his own children.”

Acan said Otto called her in March and asked whether their two kids had passports, claiming that he wanted them to go and do an interview in Nairobi as part of the process to be included on the green card.

“I told him that they do not have passports and we ended the conversation prematurely. I contacted my lawyer friend again, and she advised me to go to Makindye Court to find out whether he had applied for a petition for adoption.

“When I went to the court and inquired, I found out that he had indeed applied to adopt his own children. The court clerk told me that the children had been adopted since July 10, 2012 and the petition was passed by Charles Sserubuga, who was the Chief Magistrate at Makindye Court,” she narrated.

On advice from her lawyer friend, she got hold of court documents sworn on March 15, 2012, from which she learned that Otto had reportedly processed passports for the two children (Anying and Olowang).

“I found out that he had processed passports for my kids with fake information. He had declared one of the children’s birth certificates as from Nakasero Hospital, yet she was born at Gulu Hospital. Odonga claimed he was the paternal uncle of the children, yet he is their biological father

“He based his petition on the claim that the children had been fathered by his ‘dead’ brother Alieri Der, who had been captured by LRA rebels. I don’t know anyone called Alieri Der. He also said he has been fostering the children at his home in Kanyanya, yet the children live with me in Bugolobi. He only sends school fees for them,” she explained.

Acan argued that her signature was forged on the adoption documents because she knew nothing about the entire process. She stated that the affidavit that they presented to court showing that she had consented to the adoption procedure was also false.

Acan goes to Police

Acan said she contacted the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID) in Kibuli, requesting the Police to investigate the motive of the adoption. Although Police gave her a reference number, Acan said she never got any help. “They never gave us answers. I wanted to settle these issues diplomatically, but I have failed and Otto does not want to talk about the matter. I have now decided to take it to court.”

Attempts to get a comment from the CIID director, Grace Akullo, were futile as her aide who picked the cell phone said she was in a meeting likely to end at 5:00pm.