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in the media

A soldier attached to the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) is on the run after making off with Shs 400,000 from a mobile money agent in Bombo town council. The soldier, identified as corporal Tom Bingi is attached to Bombo military barracks in Luweero district.

Lt Colonel Deo Akiiki, the UPDF deputy spokesperson explains that Bingi escaped last evening after putting a one Hamza Jaffar, a mobile money agent at gunpoint before running away with all the money he had in his possession.
Akiiki explains that the soldier later fired several gunshots in the air to scare the public and later escaped with the gun and the stolen money. He says the search for the errant soldier is on.

Osman Kassim Ramathan, the LC III chairperson of Bombo says that residents attempted to chase the soldier up to Ndejje trading centre but they couldn't apprehend him because he was armed.

It's also reported that the UPDF is searching for another soldier who went missing with a gun last month from the Bombo military barracks. In 2013, private Patrick Okot Odoch, another soldier attached to Bombo military barracks escaped with a gun and shot ten people including his own colleagues in a local bar.

 
Okot Odoch was arrested and sentenced to 90 years in jail after found guilty of murder and attempted murder charges. During the same year, another soldier private Simon Peter Otenyan attached to the same barracks also shot two colleagues dead.

 

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Supreme court justice Prof Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza has lashed out at Ugandans who she said fail to make right choices while casting their ballots and expect the courts to do miracles for them. 

Speaking at a symposium organised by the Makerere University School of Law while marking 50 years of its existence, Ekirikubinza, who, for a long time worked at Makerere, said Ugandans have themselves to blame if their elected leaders act contrary to their aspirations.

 

“People fail to do certain things and want us to do what they failed to do at the ballot. You fail to elect quality legislators and you want court to do that for you. As citizens, you ought to do your job of electing quality legislators who will do quality work for you and not to seek to use the court system to achieve what your leaders have failed to do for you,” Ekirikubinza who was part of the nine judges who in 2016 unanimously decided to uphold the election of President Museveni said.

The former acting vice chancellor of Makerere University might also be part of the panel of judges that will hear the appeal against the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Act that lifted the presidential age limit from the constitution.

Although the Constitutional court quashed part of the provisions of the amendment; the most significant being the extension of the term of office of members of parliament by two years, court, it nevertheless said parliament acted within its powers to lift age limits on presidential candidates.

 

Ekirikubinza said she gets disturbed by critics of court decisions, many of whom, she said are not even competent to make the criticism.

“Some of the critics against court arise out of the fact that we have lawyers who don’t understand judgements and want to comment on them. The judgement is as good as the lawyers; we would want the Law School to come up as amicus curea [friends of court]” Ekirikubinza said.

Speaking at the same function, deputy chief justice Alphonse Owinyi-Dollo castigated those criticising the Constitutional court for upholding the amendment of the constitution. He said these critics fail to recognise that court saved Ugandans from MPs who wanted to usurp their powers by extending their term of office.

“Everyone talks about the age limit provisions that court upheld and no one talks about court’s intervention to stop parliament from allocating themselves power to extend their term. When you read the judgement, you will find out that the justices almost agreed on all grounds. There was only one dissent…it’s okay to tear our judgement apart but you must recognise the good things in it,” Owinyi-Dollo said.

He called upon Ugandans to start believing in the court system, arguing that, its the only way to attaining a full democratic country that believes in its systems. For her part, Lydia Namubiru, the executive director of Laspnet, a not-for-profit organisation with interest in human rights, legal and constitutional issues said, its high time Makerere University Law School taught students who are up to the challenges of the ever evolving world.

She said lawyers must work towards improving their image that has been badly damaged by their greed for money.

“If you put a lawyer and another person from another field, what would society choose? I’m very sure now people will say lawyers are useless. We need to go back and clean ourselves to improve our image,” Namubiru said.

The symposium was attended by prominent lawyers like Francis Gimara, Joe Oloka-Onyango, John- Jean Barya, justice Remmy Kasule among others.

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During its routine surveillance in Mbarara in March this year, the National Drug Authority (NDA) picked up about 48 vials of suspected falsified Hepatitis B vaccines from several health centres. The discovery triggered off a series of investigations in at least 18 drug outlets in western and central Uganda.

 

Releasing the investigation findings yesterday, minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said the falsified Hepatitis B vaccines were subjected to tests and found not to be harmful to the recipients.  

“Chemical tests done on both samples (authentic and false vaccines), did not find any harmful active pharmaceutical ingredient that would be injurious to the recipient. Additional field monitoring confirmed no adverse drug reaction,” Aceng said.

Aceng said NDA has made efforts to monitor any side effects of the falsified vaccines, as well as the ones reported by the media, but so far none have been found.

“NDA has made efforts to monitor side effects amongst those who received the falsified vaccines, but none have been reported and identified. Other events reported in the media were investigated by NDA and found not to be related to the vaccine,” Aceng said.

 

Aceng also said that the potency levels in the false Hepatitis B vaccine had been reduced, meaning it might not have given effective immunisation.

“Given the reduced potency levels observed in the falsified samples, the falsified vaccine may not have elicited the expected immune response that is protective against Hepatitis B infection for the individuals who received this vaccine,” she said.

Aceng said the falsified vaccines had similarities with the government issued vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, prompting government to believe the vaccines were stolen and not manufactured.

“Given the similarities we believe that the falsified Hepatitis B vaccine was government-issued vaccine and was most likely diverted or stolen for sales to private health facilities,” Aceng said.

She said, among the differences in the vaccines was the labelling details, which had been deliberately altered.

“There was however some variation in labelling and related details, such as batch numbers, expiry date, colour, and design schemes. There was also a deliberate attempt to erase the inscription of “Government of Uganda, not for sale, for public use only”,” she said.

Aceng added that the lower potency in the falsified vaccines is most likely due to improper storage by the perpetrators, since no other similar vaccines had been coming in to the country.

“Although the active ingredient and in-vitro potency test showed some differences between the two samples, with the suspect samples returning lower specifications, the difference could have been in poor cold-chain-management of the suspect samples during falsification. This is because NDA did not identify any inlet of that vaccine into the country,” Aceng said.

Aceng said, cases of falsified vaccines are currently undergoing investigation, with one case already finished, which ended in a Shs 500,000 fine.

“NDA continues to work with the Uganda Police, on eight cases which are at various stages of investigation and court hearing,” she said.

The minister said that government is to suspend all private Hepatitis B vaccine camps, until they have been cleared.

“The ministry of Health suspended vaccination camps for Hepatitis B by private health providers. All private medical camps seeking to offer Hepatitis B vaccination must be cleared by the ministry of Health,” Aceng said.

She said, in order to improve the testing of vaccines, the NDA will advance the time on the construction of their own lab, as well as improve their presence on the borders.

“To reduce the infiltration of poor-quality medicines and health care products on the market, NDA is fast-tracking the establishment of its state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory that will significantly increase the scope of testing,” she said.

sim.ras@hotmail.com

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Social media platforms were on Saturday awash with reports that the MP, who last year moved an amendment to the Constitution to lift the presidential age limits had been poisoned and hospitalized. In a telephone interview with URN, MP Magyezi confirmed the he was in good health condemning the false reports about his life.

 

"It is all untrue, they are just lies. I am fine, I have no problem. There is no poison. I have talked to police and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and they are trying to find out who started this, am sure they will be arrested," said Magyezi in part.

He described the false messages as acts of criminality and a misuse of social media freedom. Earlier on in a brief statement parliament's principal information and education officer, Moses Bwalatum, urged the public to ignore what they described as 'false', social media reports indicating that MP Magyezi is unwell.

"Today [Saturday] being visitation day, he spent it at Mary Hill high school in Mbarara where his daughter studies. He's now back at home to his family," reads a brief message sent by Bwalatum on Saturday night.
 
Magyezi cited another Facebook message reportedly on Lands state minister Persis Namuganza page announcing his death. Magyezi says that the message indicates that some criminals have hacked into different social media pages with an aim of causing chaos and anxiety in the public.

 

Magyezi, became popular late last year when he sponsored the private member's bill that was passed to remove the presidential age limit. The amendment was later this year upheld by the Constitutional court ruling that approved parliament's passing of the Constitutional (Amendment) No.2 Act of 2017. 

Magyezi's bill was seconded by Kyaka South MP Jackson Kafuuzi, Jinja West MP Moses Balyeku and Amolatar Woman MP Doreen Amule.

Since his involvement in the 'age limit bill', Magyezi has on several occasions spoken out about threats on his life. In an earlier interview with URN after the Constitutional court ruling, the MP said that he still receives threatening messages on his phone. He, however, said that the court's decision to uphold his bill had taught him to continue standing firm by what he believes in.

Magyezi says that some of the people who sent him threatening messages had since apologized while police is still carrying out investigations into different international telephone numbers sending him threats.

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