It followed his arrest last week for allegedly slapping the Minister as he was addressing Christians at St. Michael Catholic Church in Wera Sub County. There have been controversies before between clergy at the church, and the minister.
After his arrest, it emerged that Okurut has a mental disorder, prompting the Minister to subject him to a mental check-up.
According to the family and the Police in Amuria, the minister met all the costs of Okurut’s transportation and medication while at Butabika Hospital. Beatrice Akol, the mother of Okurut, says that her son’s mental condition started 12 years ago after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education, ICT from Makerere University.
She says that the mental condition started manifesting like typhoid and malaria but later degenerated into a mental disorder. “We took him to the hospital but the condition continued to deteriorate and we had to resort to prayers. In Church, we were told that he is possessed by some demons. We have been praying with him and the condition improved a little”, the mother said.
She added that Okurut has been passionate about Church and governance issues and his anger would arise whenever someone presented diverse views on the topics. “After school, he went to Rwanda with a friend. We only realized it afterward”, his mother narrated. She explains that Okurut taught at Madera Minor Seminary in Soroti before the attack.
“When he’s free from the attacks, my son is very social and hardworking. He does all the house chores and has been making bricks for survival here at home”, the teary mother said while seated on her verandah.
In his WhatsApp post shared, the minister said that Butabika medics have confirmed Okurut suffers from bipolar, a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
“I facilitated the transfer of Okurut from Amuria CPS to Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital. The doctors who examined have confirmed madness. I forgave him Okurut that very day, that is why he is alive. I did not allow my personal guards to harm him”, the post reads in part.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder often runs in families, and research suggests that it is mostly hereditary. People with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others. Okurut’s mother told our reporter that they have pleaded with both the minister and the Church for mercy over the conduct of Okurut in Church.
In May last year, Minister Ecweru allegedly beat up three clergymen of St. John’s Church of Uganda in Wera Sub County over land wrangles. They included Rev. Simon Peter Olato, the Parish Priest of Wera Church of Uganda, and his two lay readers; Benjamin Otasono and Simon Peter Eriku of Aten and St. John churches respectively.
Ecweru later met the religious leaders and the assaulted clergy. At the time, the Police in Wera declined to record any statement against the Minister claiming that the matter was beyond their jurisdiction.