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The army has named suspects that have been arrested since Friday when it launched an operation to arrest alleged killers of Francis Ekulagar, who was an employee of Case Hospital in Kampala.
Ekalugar was kidnaped and later murdered on January 2 and his body discovered by police the next day at Kajjansi, on Entebbe Road.
A Sunday statement by the UPDF deputy spokesperson, Lt Col Deo Akiiki, states that security agencies have been working together to bring the suspects to book.
“Acting on very reliable information, on Friday 19th 2018 an operation was conducted to arrest one of the suspects Mr Kiwalabye Huzairu. In the process, there were attempts by some sympathisers to obstruct the arrest. However, this was overcome,” Lt Col Akiiki says in the statement.
He says that after interrogating Huzairu Kiwalabye, the investigators found a need to make further arrests.
He says, Abdallah Kitatta, the patron of the notorious Boda Boda 2010 association was subsequently arrested. Kitatta is a brother of Kiwalabye.
Others who were arrested are Muzamiru Mawa, a one Kikandi Muhindo and David Bizimani.
Muhindo and Bizimani are Congolese nationals, at whose residence, the vehicle of the late Ekalugar was found.
Mawa is the driver of Dr SSebale Kato, the proprietor of Case Hospital.
Lt Col Akiiki said in the statement that others who are in custody as investigations progress are; John Ssebandeke, Fred Bwanika, Hassan Ssengoba, Joel Kibirige, Johnathan Kayondo, Ssemogerere Sunday Kiseka and Sadam Ssemogerere.
Other suspects are; Asaf Barigye, Joseph Nsindazi, Sowali Ngobi, Thoma Arinaitwa, Ibrahim Ssekaja, Frank Ssozi, Shaban Kirya, Hussein Mugema, Joram Kagajju, Hassan Ssebata, Matia Ssenfuka, John Kiddugavu, Godfrey Kasirye, Enock Lukyamuzi, Laurence Ssengonzi, Amon Twinomujuni, Frank Makumbi and Thomas Kinyamudali.
He said a search was conducted following leads from the arrested suspects and a Toyota Premio Reg. No. UAW 899U in which Ekalugar was kidnaped was recovered with an altered Reg. No. UAT 764L.
Lt. Col Akiiki said “more detailed investigations will be conducted with a view of arresting all those still at large and prosecuting them.”
Currently, according to the army, those arrested are held at a police post in Kireka.
The lawyer representing Pepper Publications Ltd, the publishers of Red Pepper and affiliated media platforms, Denis Nyombi has protested a court order allowing the continued siege of the company's offices in Namanve.
The protest follows a request for extension of time to analyze exhibits that were confiscated from Red Pepper offices by police in November last year. The request was made by prosecutors, in a case in which directors and editors of the Red Pepper are charged with libel, computer misuse and publication of a story prejudicial to national security.
The cases stem from a story published in The Red Pepper issue of November 20 indicating that President Yoweri Museveni was plotting to overthrow his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.
On trial are the founding directors of Pepper Publications; Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Patrick Mugumya, Johnson Musinguzi, Richard Tusiime and James Mujuni, and editors are Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Tumusiime Francis.
These were arrested on November 21 following a police raid of their offices in Namanve, along Jinja road. They were arraigned before Buganda Road Court on November 27 and remanded to Luzira prison after a week in detention at Nalufenya police station in Jinja and granted bail after a month in detention.
But the state, through the deputy assistant inspector of police Henry Peter Walya has asked court to allow it more time to analyze documents, computers and phones that were confiscated from Red pepper offices and obtain additional evidence to pin the eight journalists.
"The order is valid for a period not exceeding one months from the date of issue", reads part of the order.
But Nyombi told court presided over by Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate Samuel Kagoda that the order is a violation of the right to fair hearing. Magistrate Kagoda who had sat in for Chief Magistrate James Eremye Mawanda adjourned the matter to February 14, to allow the accused come up with a response to the state application.
Human rights activists have reacted angrily to President Museveni’s intent to enforce the death penalty, more than two decades after the last execution.
While presiding over at the pass out of 919 prisons officers at Luzira Prisons Training Academy on January 18, Museveni said that the increasing criminality in the country will force him to reconsider his position on the death penalty.
"I have not been assenting to hanging of convicts because of my Christian background but being lenient is causing people to think they can cause harm and get away with it," Museveni said.
From the human rights perspective, Museveni’s statements are a step back in as far as the fight against abuse of human rights and dignity is concerned.
“The greatest manifestation of human dignity is life, you can’t talk of promoting dignity when you are taking away a life,” Mohammed Ndifuna, the executive director of Human Rights Network (Hurinet) said on January 19.
Ndifuna was speaking during a joint press conference by civil society organisation (CSOs) at the Uganda National NGO forum offices at Kabalagala on the outskirts of Kampala.
The press conference was called for the CSOs to give their look at events that were witnessed in the year 2017, and their forecast of the New Year.
“There are many instances, some of them of course are outside Uganda,of people who were executed and later it turns out that they were innocent,” Ndifuna said.
“What Museveni is talking about is a retrogressive step,” he added.
According to the Ugandan law, there are 28 offenses that are punishable with a death penalty. Notable among these is murder, treason and terrorism.
The president spoke against a backdrop of increased cases of mysterious murder across the country that claimed lives of about 20 women in areas around Kampala.
In the greater Masaka sub-region, there is a notorious group locally known as Bakijambiya group that has since March last year been wreaking havoc in the area, claiming dozens of lives. According to Ndifuna, hanging such criminals may not solve the problem.
“They are not arresting the persons responsible for these deaths,” Ndifuna said. “There are those that have confessed to being responsible for 90 per cent of the murders in the country but no one is arresting them. We hope they [government] are not going to use execute political opponents,” he added.
AGE LIMIT BILL
The CSOs also criticised the events that characterised the tabling and passing of Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi’s Constitutional amendment Bill that led to the scrapping of the presidential age limit and also extended the term of elected leaders by two years.
“The invasion of parliament by armed security agents on September 27, 2017, arrest of some members of parliament, civil society activists and journalists to facilitate the amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution, set the country on a very uncertain political path. We continue to reiterate our original position that the amendment of Article 102(b) was a selfish act and not in the interest of the country,” NGO forum’s Richard Ssewakiryanga said.
“This provision provided the much-needed constitutional safeguards against a repeat of our history characterized by violent transfers of power. Ugandans must find time to build political consensus on the key features of our democracy,” he added.
Ssewakiryanga said, the amendment requires all Ugandans including MPs to reflect on the deeper implication of this action. He criticised the government for using its agencies to stifle free speech through acts of repression which also led to a siege on some CSOs that were suspected to be opposed to the scrapping of the presidential age limit.
“The siege on some civil society organizations, and media agencies, the arrests of some civil society leaders and activists across the country and the unnecessary investigations of another 27 organizations were not only an affront to the freedoms of association and expression but also an expression of the most rudimentary forms of repression. Such actions blemish the sanctity of our aspiration to build a democratic society,” Ssewakiryanga said.
Additionally, offices of some eight NGOs were broken into and a number of their information storage facilities taken. While many of these cases were reported to police, the police are yet to update the NGOs on the progress of their investigations.
After a bitter campaign and closely fought presidential election last November, FDC finds itself locked in another bitter post-election feud, akin to the 2012 squabbling.
The leadership and ideological crisis rocking Uganda’s largest opposition party has deepened after a top official tried to frustrate its disaffected former leader, Maj Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu’s upcountry meetings. Party secretary general, Nathan Nandala-Mafabi’s January 10 letter to Forum for Democratic Change branch officials has stoked this phase of the internal strife pulling FDC apart.
The letter was also seen as a sly attempt to sabotage Gen Muntu’s countrywide consultations, which could result in him forming a new party.
Mafabi now faces accusations of wading into undemocratic waters, contrary to FDC’s founding principles, which champion the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights and freedom of assembly and association, among others.
Despatched shortly before Muntu set off for Bunyoro sub-region on Monday, Mafabi addressed himself to FDC’s district chairpersons and general secretaries.
“This is to inform your office that anyone from headquarters or anywhere who intends to carry out an activity in your district in the name of the party should demonstrate that the activity was discussed and passed by the FDC National Executive Committee,” he wrote.
“This is for purposes of harmonising the party activities. All the activities of the party will be communicated to you by my office.”
No such NEC discussion has taken place. However, Muntu had, in the aftermath of the bitter campaign which saw Patrick Oboi Amuriat win a proxy fight for the FDC presidency in November 2017, promised consultations.
Many interpret his consultations as a first step towards the feared break-up of FDC, a party where his leadership was severely undermined by founding president, Dr Kizza Besigye.
In Hoima, Muntu said: “It is not easy to start a new party under the current political environment…it’s tough…I am glad we are gathering these views and I promised the new party president that we shall be transparent and even if we take a decision to leave the party, it will be done in a mature manner and that we will still work side by side to achieve the objectives.”
Speaking to The Observer, FDC secretary for legal affairs Abed Nasser Mudiobole said Mafabi was driven by political emotion.
“Mafabi’s letter was uncalled for. Not necessary. It is divisive and must be treated with contempt. There are precedents in this party. We have had many activities that have been supported by the party even when there is no single minute of NEC approving such activities. Campaigns like Togikwatako or the 4GC and A4C, and activities of individual members, were not sanctioned by NEC,” Mudiobole said.
He was backed by party elder and NEC member Abdu Katuntu who said: “I don’t think what Hon Mafabi and group are doing is right. We would appear [to be] behaving the same way NRM did when Hon Amama Mbabazi expressed interest in the top leadership of the party and he was stopped from carrying out his consultations as they were considered ‘not to be politically correct.”
“It is unfortunate that we would behave this way before we even take over power. Just imagine how some of us would behave when we take over,” he said.
A week ago, Amuriat had hinted at what his faction planned for their rivals.
“As a party we take responsibility to ask what type of consultations? Are they [Muntu] going to consult as party members? Under what formation? Because any consultation done in the name of the party, the organs of the party must be made aware and they adopt whatever activities,” he said.
This view was contested by Mudiobole. “FDC is a party whose main ideals are to champion the rule of law and promote democratic principles. It is a constitutional right for any citizen to do what Gen Muntu is doing. We should be the last to stifle his way,” he said.
Other prominent members of the opposition, among them, Democratic Party president, Norbert Mao, agree.
Mao tweeted: “It is good for a leader to keep his fingers on the people’s pulse. I trust that by listening to the people, a leader can refine his views, rise above prejudices and find his true mission. My prayer is that we all become tributaries that coalesce into a mighty river of real change.”
Mafabi didn’t pick or return our calls. Interviewed for this story, Sarah Eperu, the spokesperson for Amuriat, said, “[Mafabi’s] letter was not solely targeting Muntu but also Moses Byamugyisha who had started consulting party youths in the west.”
She said Gen Muntu is a big advocate of building party structures and strong institutions which he is undermining by going ahead with his consultations.
“What he is doing is going to break down an institution he has helped build over the years,” she said, adding that it was wrong for Muntu to write to police, and not FDC seeking clearance for his meetings.
Mafabi’s opening of a new frontline comes at a time when Amuriat is creating parallel structures to bypass party organs believed to be loyal to Muntu. Inside sources say it started with the influential office of secretary for information and publicity, which principally deals with publicity, including running the important weekly press briefings.
Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, is the FDC secretary for information and publicity, deputised by Paul Mwiru. Both support Muntu. Now, Amuriat has appointed Sarah Eperu to act as the head of the party president’s press unit, an entirely new creation.
“This is why Eperu has been presiding over the most recent press briefings, including the one of last week,” said the source.
After Monday’s press briefing, Amuriat insinuated that Ssemujju may have deliberately stayed away. But Ssemujju told The Observer that he has been busy with the campaign against the removal of presidential age limits.
“What the Hon Amuriat also has to know is that people in politics are not enthusiastic with meetings like the case in the private sector and he has to live with it. For the last one year, I have been at the FDC, I have attended meetings where some departments are not represented throughout the year,” he said.
Also missing from the Monday briefing was Mudiobole yet the day’s theme was a pronouncement on FDC’s intended legal action. Last month, Mudiobole said he was sidelined for not supporting Amuriat. Indeed, another lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, presided over the swearing-in of Amuriat.
Amuriat appeared before the press with senior lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi last Monday.
“It should not also be misunderstood. [Nsibambi] is a prominent member of the party, who voluntarily avails himself whenever the need for his services arises,” he said.