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KABERAMAIDO- Police in Kaberamaido District are on the spot over accusations of shielding two of its officers who allegedly robbed a family of Shs3m.
Despite a case of aggravated robbery being registered at the Kaberamaido Police Station, the two officers attached to the same station have not been arraigned before court.
The duo is accused of handcuffing Pius Ebucu and his wife before robbing them of Shs3m and other personal effects such as clothes.
According to Mr Ebucu, when a search was mounted in the police barracks, some clothes were recovered.
The clothes were allegedly being used by one of the wives of the police officers who have been detained.
A police source privy to the case told Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity that whereas the officer in charge of criminal investigations department at the police station had recommended that the case be forwarded to Resident State Attorney for sanctioning and have the duo charged in court, the district police commander, Mr Ahamed Madiri, was opposed to the suggestion.
Mr Madiri, according to the source, instead suggested an out of court settlement of the case. However, when contacted over the matter last week, Mr Madiri said the robbery case is being investigated.
But Mr Jimmy Ebil Ssegawa, the Kaberamaido Resident District Commissioner, warned that any officer trying to undermine justice will also face the law.
“We don’t tolerate any acts of crime. This particular case, I want to get a report from the DPC stating the course of action he has so far taken,” Mr Ssegawa warned.
The race to become the next FDC president officially kicked off last week but just days into the three-month-long campaign, there are calls to have a single candidate to challenge incumbent Gen Mugisha Muntu.
Muntu is facing four other candidates; namely, former Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat, Dan Matsiko, Mubarak Munyagwa and Moses Byamugisha.
The winner of the FDC presidency is determined by a simple majority. Some figures loyal to Dr Besigye’s defiance campaign, who brand themselves as ‘defiants,’ are courting other candidates to step aside for Amuriat with the hope that their chances of winning would be bolstered if other candidates step down.
“All the candidates are of defiance, apart from Muntu. So, I don’t see why we cannot ask them to join us and we defeat this man and reclaim our 2016 presidential victory,” one source said.
Patrick Amuriat with his supporters
On Saturday, Amuriat confirmed to The Observer that talks with other candidates are ongoing to drum up more support for him and increase his chances of winning the FDC presidency.
“We have always left all options open and one of the options is forming alliances and agreeing to work together. Yes, we shall continue to pursue such lines, especially with those candidates that have the same ideology with us,” he said. “There is nothing we have concluded yet but the [switch over would] make me stronger.”
The move to have Amuriat as the only contestant against Muntu started even before the nomination exercise, with his camp talking to some of the candidates they viewed as easy targets.
Sources said during these meetings, the candidates were promised a ‘fair reward’ should they yield and Amuriat goes through. The negotiations were led by Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, the party’s vice president for Central region, also the campaign chairperson of the Amuriat camp.
Some of those talked to include Moses Lukubira and Mubarak Munyagwa. Lukubira told The Observer on Saturday that he attended meetings before nominations and agreed to back out.
“We agreed that since we were all from the defiance camp, we should leave Amuriat to stand since he is more experienced than us and has more grassroots support,” he said. “It would be painful if our insistence on remaining in the race gave Muntu an opportunity to retain the presidency.”
However, Munyagwa didn’t agree with the terms and got nominated the following day. A source close to the talks told The Observer Munyagwa refused to back out before nominations because the public would think he was unserious.
“He insisted to be nominated as talks go on but I’m positive in a few weeks’ time he may pull out of the race,” a source said.
Munyagwa couldn’t be reached for a comment but in an interview with CBS FM after nomination, he said he would be willing to step down if the terms favor him.
Mubarak Munyagwa (in blue tie) has indicated that he is willing to step down
Meanwhile, Moses Byamugisha said he has not been approached because they [Amuriat camp] know he will not accept such a proposal. “It would be a sign of disrespect and an insult to common sense,” he said.
“I can confidently tell you that nobody has approached me. All these days I have struggled alone, raising that Shs 5 million nomination fees. There is no way I can accept such a proposal.”
In the same vein, Dan Matsiko also said he has not been approached to step down in favor of Amuriat.
“No one has come to me because they well know that I cannot step down for anybody. I’m in the race and I can assure you that I’m going to win, forget the rented support my competitors are displaying. Majority of those people you saw on nomination are not even delegates,” he said.
Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the co-chairperson of the Muntu campaign, noted that even if other candidates stand down in favour of Amuriat, there is no chance they can defeat Muntu.
“Usually elections are not won by how many people you have. When you’re an incumbent, the election is like a referendum; all the other candidates will mention your name in places you have not yet even campaigned,” he said.
“I have no problem with people withdrawing from the race and I don’t think it will in any way affect our campaigns. We are looking for the candidate that is going to stabilize our party no matter the different views so that we can work together.”
When contacted, Dan Mugarura, the FDC electoral commission chairperson, said when some candidates pull out in favor of the other, it will not affect the electoral process at all. However, he noted that withdrawing from the race might have some negative ramifications for the candidate in question.
“Withdrawal affects your future as a young politician. People will no longer take you serious the next time you ask for their support,” he said.
Official campaigns kicked off last week Thursday with the candidates campaigning mainly in Kampala. According to Hussein Lubega, a commissioner, all candidates are expected to attend a joint press conference today at the party headquarters in Najjanakumbi before heading out to different parts of the country.
Last week, the NRM caucus defied President Museveni, its party chairman, and rejected the government’s plan to amend Article 26 of the Constitution.
The amendment, which is contained in the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, seeks to empower government take compulsory possession of private land for infrastructure and investment projects before compensation.
If enacted, the law will enable the central government or local governments to deposit in court compensation awarded for any property required for public works, and immediately take possession.
The resistance exhibited by the legislators may have set the stage for tougher times ahead for government, which insists the law should be passed, owing to the several stalled projects arising out of disputes on compensation.
President Yoweri Museveni
While some NRM MPs have written off the bill, Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip, insists the bill still has a lifeline and was not brought in bad faith.
“The bill is brought with good intentions to save government money…There are those who are deliberately misinforming the country. They are quick and loud and have no shame. When you tell government to just drop the bill, you are telling it to wind up,” she said.
Nankabirwa also admitted government has a Shs 400 billion backlog for compensation of project-affected persons.
However, DP president general Norbert Mao says government should open its eyes and contemplate fully withdrawing the bill given the resistance it has received from MPs, civil society, religious and traditional leaders.
He said this while appearing on Frontline, a political talk show on NBS TV last Thursday. “Majority of MPs who are young and forward-looking are saying we have a problem. What is the cause whose effect is delays in project implementation? Is the government not just giving a reason which sounds good while hiding the real reason for bringing the law?,” he asked.
“The real reason is the lack of sufficient resources to comply with the requirement for prior compensation. Parliament has got committee chairpersons but the most powerful people in parliament are the floor leaders like Nandala- Mafabi, Hamson Obua and the like to present compelling arguments that the solution does not include amendment of the Constitution.”
During the NRM caucus meeting at State House, Entebbe last Wednesday, Denis Hamson Obua mooted a proposal to have special courts or a land tribunal to handle disputes arising from disagreements on compensation. Obua said this can be done through amendment of the Land Acquisition Act 1965.
In the end, the caucus set up a 10-member committee led by Vice President Edward Ssekandi to look into the possibility of amending the Land Acquisition Act to create the tribunals.
When contacted, the attorney general, William Byaruhanga, revealed that the committee will officially start work this week.
The committee will present its report to the NRM caucus in 14 days after which the NRM MPs will decide whether the controversial bill will stay or be withdrawn.
“This is the assignment that was given to the committee. When they come to report, we shall know whether we shall go towards amending the Constitution or the Land Acquisition Act,” Nankabirwa said.
Some legislators contend that it will be a miracle if government resuscitates the bill, saying it is on its deathbed. Felix Okot Ogong said the Constitution provides for total protection of citizens in regard to the right to land ownership and any attempt to tinker with Article 26 was bound to face resistance.
Francis Gimara, the president of the Uganda Law Society (ULS), wondered why government would front for land amendments yet it set up the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire commission of inquiry into land matters.
Meanwhile, Professor Ogenga Latigo (Agago) says that for government to avoid stalemates in future, it should find ways of dealing with land speculators who propagate the delayed compensation disputes.
“Put up a law on compensation and ensure that if you are a bonafide landowner, you should have owned it for ten years and more. This will weed out speculators,” he said.
CAMPAIGNS AGAINST LAND AMENDMENTS
A number of opposition MPs, led by Winnie Kiiza, the leader of opposition in parliament, are currently traversing different parts of the country preaching against the bill.
With legislators across the political divide fervently vowing to fight the bill; the opposition has since moved to Buganda, West Nile, Acholi, Teso and Bugisu sub-regions de-campaigning the principles of the amendment.
Matthias Mpuuga, who is one of the legislators on the trail, told The Observer on phone that the growing resistance towards the bill should be a precursor to any attempts by government to change the Constitution.
“The NRM caucus position was not one that simply happened but due to public pressure especially from their constituents. The land bill is a good spark for us to rise to more pertinent issues. While we recall that we go around the country to campaign against issues including age limit, the opposition should use this momentum to put pressure on the regime to demand for respect of the Constitution,” he said.
A battle for the control of funds meant for the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) is threatening harmony at the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The fight has pitted the ministry’s permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana and the senior minister Janat Mukwaya on one side against Youth and Child Affairs minister Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi.
The disagreements came to the fore on August 12 during the national youth day celebrations at Rwamba primary school grounds in Bundibugyo district, where a section of youth leaders jeered at, and heckled, Nakiwala in the presence of President Museveni.
Sources at the ministry and within the National Youth Council (NYC) have told The Observer that the three principals at the ministry have been quietly fighting for about a year now, with Bigirimana accusing Nakiwala of giving the YLP bad publicity.
This was after Nakiwala made follow-up visits to some YLP funds beneficiary groups, causing the arrest of some officials who were charged with the distribution of the funds.
“It all started in Arua last year during the NYC delegates’ conference when we put Bigirimana to task to explain the breakdown of the Shs 75.4 billion that was allocated to the budget, and how it had been utilised. We did not allow him to complete his presentation and he swore never to come back to our meetings,” a member of the NYC, who preferred not to be named, told The Observer on Saturday.
Youth and Children Affairs minister Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi (L) and Gender permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana
According to the 2017/18 budget speech presented on June 8 by Finance minister Matia Kasaija, the Shs 75.4bn was to facilitate 10,321 youth projects under the programme. The government has, however, cut the allocation to Shs 67bn to finance 5,700 youth projects.
The budget cut, according to an official at the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, was as a result of the programme’s under-performance in the previous financial years.
YLP is a rolling government targeting the poor and unemployed youth in all the districts in the country. It was launched in 2013 with an initial budget estimate of Shs 265bn to cover a period of five years.
To avoid more bad publicity, Bigirimana reportedly wrote to Nakiwala asking her to halt her activities since her senior minister had drawn another YLP monitoring programme covering the entire country.
Ahead of the main celebrations in Bundibugyo on August 12, the NYC first convened its delegates’ conference at Kabarole SDA Secondary School at Kagote, Fort Portal, where the youths turned away a ministry official who had been sent by Bigirimana.
This particular meeting decided that neither Bigirimana nor Nakiwala should be allowed to speak.
The national youth leadership has been divided into two groups, with the NYC executive led by chairperson Lillian Aber allied to Bigirimana and Mukwaya while most of the district youth councils have thrown their lot with Nakiwala.
Mukwaya has since called for two consultative meetings. The first, on August 25 at the ministry’s boardroom, will be with the NYC executive, while the second, to have at least three representatives from district and municipal youth councils, is scheduled to take place on August 30 at Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala.
The invitation letter to both meetings was signed by Bigirimana. He notes in the letter that the delegates will receive a transport refund and per diem for the night they will spend in Kampala. However, in an in an interview with The Observer on Saturday, Bigirimana said he wrote the letter on Mukwaya’s behalf.
“After Bundibugyo, she went to Kasese and she asked me to write the letter on her behalf,” he said.
Pius Bigirimana addressing youths recently
Bigirimana confirmed that the meeting is intended to discuss issues that led to the Bundibugyo fiasco.
“It appears there is a problem. That is why [Mukwaya] is calling for this meeting to know what exactly the problem is,” Bigirimana said.
The permanent secretary denied any role in fuelling the divisions within NYC.
“As far as I am concerned, we have imaginary divisions but all the youths are working together, and I can’t distinguish between the different groups because I am responsible to all youths,” he said.
Asked why a meeting to discuss what happened to the youth minister is being called in her absence, Bigirimana said, her being on leave cannot stop a government programme.
“Government business cannot stop because Nakiwala is on leave. Mukwaya, being a senior minister, is responsible for everything,” Bigirimana said.
NYC WANTS INVESTIGATION
Aber did not respond to our repeated phone calls but Ibrahim Kitatta, the NYC secretary general, distanced the youth leadership from the fights at the ministry.
“What I can confirm to you is that there are some disagreements between those seniors [ministers and the PS]. It is not only Nakiwala; they all have pending issues though all anger was vented against Nakiwala before the president,” Kitatta said.
To solve the problem, Kitatta said, the NYC executive has called for an investigation into the confusion at the ministry.
“The question we must answer is, why are the youths uncomfortable with service delivery at the ministry? The whole problem is about underfunding for youth programs and the minister who sits in cabinet to lobby for the young people is busy accusing Bigirimana,” Kitatta said.
“We think that instead of venting her anger on Bigirimana, she should be taking on the PS of the ministry of Finance. That is why the youth leaders humiliated her in front of the president; because we think that accusing Bigirimana is accusing the wrong the person,” Kitatta added.
To Kitatta, Nakiwala has only herself to blame because of her poor work methods that have made it difficult for most of the people at the ministry to work with her.
Asked about Bigirimana’s facilitation to allegedly keep up the fight against the junior minister, Kitatta said, “What we get is facilitation to monitor YLP and all ministers and technical staff, including sweepers at the ministry, get this money so long they are doing work related to the programme.”
Every month, Kitatta said, each NYC executive member gets a daily per diem of Shs 110,000 and fuel refund for 11 days.
According to the YLP guidelines, 10 per cent of the programme funds have to be spent on covering operational costs like monitoring its implementation.
However, according to a youth leader who declined to be named, a work plan that some of the youths smuggled from the ministry shows that some of the money is spent on burials and foreign trips.
“Somewhere he [Bigirimana] indicated that they also pay Shs 800m to the Inspectorate of Government,” the youth leader said. “When we asked him about this money, he said it is for institutional support to the IGG.”