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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.

16 hours 41 min ago

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.

16 hours 41 min ago

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.

sadabkk@observer.ug

16 hours 42 min ago

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.

MORE INFIGHTING

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.

skakaire@observer.ug

16 hours 44 min ago

A whistle-blower attached to the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) has raised a red flag on the on-going procurement process for a World Bank-funded internet connectivity infrastructure project.

According to the whistle-blower, government might get a raw deal from the $75 million (Shs 270 billion) Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP), since the project is most likely going to be awarded to the highest bidder.

The RCIP project is being implemented by National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U), and is intended to improve government’s efficiency and transparency through e-government applications as well as lower internet connectivity prices and extend the geographic reach of broadband networks.

 

The procurement was initiated on August 3, 2017 after NITA-U ran an advert in the New Vision inviting bids to implement the project. The bid attracted six companies: Wanainchi Telecom, ZTE, Camsat, Banwidth & Crown services + Wuhang Fibre Home, Raubex Infra (Pty) and Huawei.

While Huawei submitted the highest bid price of $15.8 million (about Shs 57.7 billion), it has since emerged as the favoured company for the project.

According to the whistle-blower, Hauwei had been shortlisted along with another Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, whose bid price was $8.6m (Shs 31.3 billion).  The whistle-blower says by the close of business on January 15, 2018, ZTE had been dropped.

Under normal bidding processes, the source said, Huawei would have been dropped by virtue of being the highest bidder. The lowest bidder was Camsat, pricing their bid at $8.2m (Shs 29.9 billion).

Interviewed, the chairman of the evaluation committee, Paul Ngabirano, declined to say much since the process is still ongoing.

“The process is still on, and, under the procurement regulations, I am not supposed to comment until it is concluded,” Ngabirano said.

ANXIETY

NITA-U executive director James Saaka, instead, blamed over-anxious bidders some of whom, he said, had leaked documents on the project to Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala-Mafabi.

“I know there is a letter that has been written to Mafabi but the procurement process is not yet complete because even I, the accounting officer, haven’t seen the evaluation report yet,” Saaka said.

“Prospective bidders sometimes get over anxious but they should wait for the process to be concluded,” he added.

The latest revelations come against a backdrop of fraudulent scandals that have rocked the body charged with regulating the ICT sector. According to the source, NITA-U bosses entered into multimillion dollar contracts with companies linked to some of the bosses at the IT regulatory agency.

Among such deals, is the contract to certify ICT companies that want to do business with government which was awarded to Comtel Africa. Comtel Africa, owned by a former NITA-U board member, was allowed to take 80 per cent of the revenue it collects and only remit 20 per cent to NITA-U.

While the whistle-blower cites some influence peddling in the deal, Saaka said that the former board member got the contract on merit.

“It was an international competitive bidding process where no one can be accused of influence peddling, being a former board member doesn’t stop anyone from doing business, and secondly, he is in partnership with another company,” Saaka said.

NITA-U is also said to have conspicuously entered into another contract with SYBYL (Computer Point) to a build a data centre at $13m (Shs 45.5 billion)

NITA-U bosses are also accused of causing the government a monthly loss of more than Shs 30bn paid to Kenyan IT giants Soliton Telmec to offer internet services to government departments and ministries through the national backbone infrastructure.

The whistle-blower claims the $300 (Shs 1.08 million) that the ministries pay per mbps (megabits per second - data transfer speed) is too high compared to what is paid in neighbouring countries like Rwanda where government pays $50 (Shs 180,000) per mbps.

Government is also reported to be cheated in the procurement of Cisco switches, which NITA-U buys at $2,600 (Shs 9.3 million) as opposed to Shs 1.4 million on the open market. It also pays $1,200 (Shs 4.3 million) for manhole covers that the same supplier sells to MTN at Shs 400,000.

Saaka, however, says that the costs were previously high because of fewer users. For instance, he said, in 2011, when the national backbone infrastructure was implemented, government used to pay $1,200 (Shs 4.3 million) per mbps which has drastically fallen to current figure of $70 (Shs 252,000) with 280 government ministries and departments connected in addition to 186 free public Wi-Fi hotspots.

 

4 days 18 hours ago

The Constitutional court has today upheld the election of Forum for Democratic Change’s Nabilah Naggayi Sempala as the Kampala district Woman member of parliament after it dismissed a constitutional petition filed by a Kampala voter. 

In giving Naggayi a political life line, the judges also settled the lingering legal question as to whether following the enactment of the Kampala Capital city Authority (KCCA), Kampala was no longer a district.

It was the finding of the five judges, that indeed, Kampala was still district, reasoning that the 2005 amendment of the Constitution, which instituted KCCA, did not expressly abolish Kampala as the district and neither did it abolish it having a Woman member of parliament. 

 

“Parliament had the power to do so under Article 78(2) of the Constitution but it did not do so which, in our view, reflects its intention to retain representation of Kampala regardless of it being referred to as capital city,” the judgment partly reads.

“The location, demarcation and people of Kampala remained the same. Mere change of descriptive name to city or district in the law should not be reason to disenfranchise the people of Kampala. Participation in the affairs of government individually or through his/her representatives is guaranteed by Article 38(1) of the Constitution.”             

The judgment stems from a 2016 petition filed by one Alex Oryang Odonga, in the Constitutional court, challenging the legality of Naggayi’s re-election asserting that, since 2005, Kampala stopped being a district after the 9th Parliament amended the 1995 Constitution and created Kampala as the capital city of Uganda.  

The amendment according to Odonga stopped Kampala from being a district that required a Woman representative in the legislature. The petitioner contended that the Constitution of Uganda provides that there shall be one woman representative for every district in Parliament.

But, the Constitution does not provide for representation in parliament by a Woman representative for a city or cities in Uganda. Odongo further asserted when the Electoral Commission issued an election roadmap for the 2016 general elections, which calendar included the election of a Woman representative for Kampala city on February 18, 2016, declaration of Naggayi as winner of the parliamentary seat on February 19 contravened the Constitution.

Odonga sought for a declaration that section 8(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005 under which Naggayi was elected is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 2 (1) and 61 (1) (b) of the Constitution of Uganda.

In response, Josephine Kiyingi, Naggayi’s lawyer, asked court to dismiss the case on grounds that Odonga didn’t disclose any cause of action against Naggayi.

Kiyingi, therefore, described the petition as so some sort of political prosecution of Naggayi since the right person to be sued was only the attorney general. Odonga, in his petition had listed the Attorney and Electoral Commission as the second and third respondents, respectively.     

In their analysis of the case; justices; Steven Kavuma, Richard Buteera, Solomy Balungi Bossa, Cheborion Barishaki and Paul Mugamba faulted Odonga’s lawyer Naboth Muhairwe for not responding to Kiyingi’s contention that Naggayi was wrongly sued.  

They said not rebutting that particular argument would ordinarily mean that Muhairwe conceded to the same. In his affidavit in the support of his petition, the five judges found that Odonga didn’t show any wrong doing by Naggayi since her only role was participate in the election as a candidate. 

“We are therefore of the considered view that the first respondent [Naggayi] is not responsible for any alleged violation of the Constitution,” they ruled, absolving Naggayi of any wrong doing “…in the circumstances, we agree with counsel for the first respondent that the petitioner had no cause against her but against the attorney general and the Electoral Commission.”       

KAMPALA A DISTRICT? 

After, that the judges delved into Odonga’s ultimate argument that Kampala as it stands now is no longer district following the enactment Article 5 of the Constitution which had the effect of placing the administration of Uganda’s capital in hands of the central government.

First in their 35 page judgment, the judges point out that the first schedule of the Constitution stipulates that “Kampala and districts of Uganda” for avoidance of doubt they clarify that Kampala in the Constitution is listed first and then other districts.  

From the above, what is clear, the judges say, is that Kampala is a district and the capital of Uganda at the same time.

They also had the mandate to interpret Article 5 (2) of the Constitution which stipulates that Uganda shall consist of the districts specified in the first Schedule to this Constitution and such other districts as may be established in accordance with this Constitution or any other law consistent with it. 

In particular, they took interest in the word “and” since Muhairwe had insisted that it means that Kampala is not district.

To clear this, the judges used the Merriam Webster dictionary, which states that, the word “and” is “used as a function word to indicate connection or addition especially of items within the same class or type; and used to join sentence elements of the same grammatical rank or function.”

From the foregoing, the judges held that use of the word “and” indicated the connection between Kampala city and the other districts in Uganda.

“It [Kampala] appears under the same schedule with other districts in Uganda. It appears under the same schedule with other districts, albeit, it appears first,” the judges ruled, “We are of the view that Kampala city is in the same class as the districts of Uganda.”        

It was also the judges’ finding that Kampala was meant to be administered the same way as before the amendment of the Constitution in 2005 in which it was placed under the direct administration of government.     

“Kampala had 7 constituencies and one Woman of member of parliament before the amendment of the Constitution”, they said, “We therefore conclude that in accordance with section 84 of the Kampala Capital City Authority Act and Articles 63 and 293 of the Constitution, the status quo was maintained after the amendment though the Constitution does not mention the word “city”, its worth noting that Women members of parliament are of entire district.”

In dismissing Odonga’s petition, it was pertinent to these five judges to highlight the rationale for creating the position of Women members of parliament. 

“It has been documented that women have been marginalized on grounds of gender in most spheres of life,” the judges started, “The state wanted to address such marginalization when they enacted the Constitution. This can be deduced from the preamble to the national objectives and directives principles of state policy and several provisions of the Constitution.”  

Accordingly, though the Electoral Commission had conceded through its lawyer Eric Sabiiti, that it illegally organized the election, the judges inevitably concluded that the election of Naggayi as the Kampala Woman member of parliament was consistent with the Constitution. 

“In conclusion, we decline to make the declarations sought by the petitioner [Odonga] and accordingly dismiss the petition,” they adjudged, “Each party shall bear its own costs.”     

4 days 18 hours ago

Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, has said self-confessed criminal suspect Paddy Sserunjoji alias Sobi is being held by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), denying earlier reports that the former police informer was released yesterday a few hours after his transfer from Nsangi police in Wakiso to Nalufenya detention centre in Jinja for interrogation.

Kayihura told journalists at Parliament today that Sserunjoji and his two alleged accomplices, Shafiq Kisozi and Tim Twaha, were not freed but were in the custody of the Internal Security Organisation, a sister security organization.

 

Police picked up the trio from Rose Garden Hotel in Nsangi early this week in relation to their confession in the media that they were behind numerous murders and robberies in Kampala.

Kayihura says handing over the suspects to ISO is normal procedure, since ISO deals with intelligence and Police works on investigations.

“We didn’t release him. He still has files with us but there is a sister security agency that has issues to either question him [about] or work with him and that is how we work,” Kayihura said.

“Perhaps they want to interrogate him or work with him, it might be an intelligence operation and they requested us [for him]and we handed him over.” Kayihura added.

He however wondered why the public continues to believe anything said by such “criminals” who he said have no credibility.

“Evidence, most of the time, depends on credibility of somebody giving the evidence, why do you give credibility to criminals? Their submissions shouldn’t be taken as the gospel truth but this should however be investigated.” he said, stressing that Police has not just unconditionally released the suspects.

Sserunjoji reportedly stopped working with police three months ago and joined the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).

He had worked with police since 2016 following his release from Luzira prison where he had spent four years on charges of aggravated robbery and murder.

He is alleged to lead several criminal gangs in and around Kampala.

 

4 days 18 hours ago

Education minister Janet Museveni has said there should be no more pre-registration tests or examinations within public and private schools as candidates prepare for national examinations.

Speaking during the release of 2017 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results in Kampala yesterday, Ms Museveni said pre-tests denied many candidates a chance of sitting last year’s examinations.

A total of 646,190 candidates from 12, 751 centres registered for PLE in 2017 compared to 640,833 at 12,391 centres in 2016.

 

“The practice of placing hurdles before these young learners in the form of “pre-registration” tests increases dropouts and should stop immediately,” Ms Museveni said.

“I have noted that the [average] rate of increase in candidature has reduced from over three per cent to just under one per cent. Uneb tried to find out the reasons for this, and what has come out from some districts is unacceptable.”

She said districts must, instead, put in place mechanisms to ensure effective teaching throughout the primary education cycle in order to achieve better PLE results.

In addition to mock examinations, most schools set examinations to sieve learners for registration in their schools. Unsuccessful candidates are usually registered at different centers to maintain good grades at the school centre.

Ms Museveni commended districts such as Arua, Moyo and Adjumani which host large numbers of refugees for registering very significant increases in the number of candidates last year.

According to Uneb executive secretary Dan N Odongo, whereas previous years registered a significant percentage increase in candidature of about three to five per cent each year, the increase in candidature from 2016 to 2017 reduced to 0.8 per cent.

Uneb statistics indicate that at least 10 districts had their registration figures decline, Bulambuli recording the highest percentage at 24 per cent. In 2016, the district registered at least 3,022 candidates but declined to 2,297 in 2017.

Bulambuli is followed by Buyende (21.7 per cent), Serere (21.6 per cent), Sironko and Pallisa (16.9 per cent each), Kaliro (15.5 per cent), Mubende (15.4 per cent), Luuka (12.7 per cent), Iganga (12.2 per cent) and Mayuge at 11 per cent.

However, Yumbe registered the highest percentage variance in candidature at 61.1 per cent. Moyo came second with (40.7 per cent), Adjumani (34.2 per cent), Kaberamaido (29.3 per cent), Arua (23.6 per cent), Bundibugyo (15.4 per cent) and Ntoroko with 11.3 per cent.

Generally, Uneb chairperson Prof Mary Okwakol said, many districts registered fewer candidates in 2017 PLE examinations.

“The board found out that in most districts, the pupils were subjected to what was called a pre-registration test administered centrally by the districts. Those who did not score a pre-determined mark were not allowed to register for the PLE,” Okwakol said.

Meanwhile, with improved performance in Social Studies and Science subjects last year and a decline in Mathematics and English language, Ms Museveni urged teachers to refocus their methods of teaching.

“The teaching appears to be theoretical and emphasizes drilling of candidates. While performance in Mathematics indicates that more learners got the minimum pass at grade 8, the desired quality passes have declined,” she said, attributing the decline in Mathematics to failure by candidates to handle questions with practical applications.

nangonzi@observer.ug

1 week 20 hours ago

Legislators opposed to the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 say government should increase the budget for agriculture instead of introducing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to counter food insecurity and other climate change challenges.

The MPs who have vowed to fail the passage of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill argue that it promotes use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are dangerous to lives and the environment.

The bill, which seeks to provide a regulatory framework for safe development and application of biotechnology research, development and release of genetically modified organisms was re-tabled in the House on Thursday following President Museveni's refusal to sign it after parliament passed it in October.

 

Museveni, in a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga dated December 21, 2017, cited eleven reasons why the bill must be reconsidered by parliament.

The president sought, among other things, clarification on the title, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals.

Addressing a news conference at parliament, Bufumbira East MP James Nsaba Buturo and Ngora MP David Abala blamed their colleagues and Ugandan scientists for falling prey to the powerful GMO lobbyists although their peers in developed countries, such as the Netherlands, rejected GMOs.

“Ugandan scientists, knowingly or not, are being used by some powers to create a suitable climate for the latter to dominate our country and impose various technologies that would serve their interests and not those of Ugandans,” Buturo said.

The legislators argue that Uganda does not need GMOs as a means to achieve food security.

“Uganda is ranked the world’s second best organic foods producer but if the GMO bill becomes law, this will gravely undermine the safe organic foods thereby endangering people’s lives. I regret that we as a government have failed to take agriculture seriously,” Buturo said.

“You see it in the investments we do or make. You see it in the absence of irrigation, improved seeds, and credit facilities for farmers. It is a whole range of issues we have failed to address. This climate change business cannot be answered by introducing dangerous GMOs, there must be other ways and the country must wake up and say where do we go next?” he added.

Abala expressed gratitude to the President for returning to Parliament the GMO bill and insisted he will lobby colleagues to discard it given the serious impact he says GMOs have on humans and the environment.

“I am happy it's back and we are going to continue where we ended by opposing it and saying it should not be discussed. It must be defeated in the House. If somebody says it will help us fight food insecurity, government must talk about what we must invest in agriculture, I am sure we shall have enough food,” Abala said.

The agriculture budget stood at Shs 828 billion in the financial year 2017/18, accounting for about three percent of the Shs 29 trillion total budget, contrary to the Maputo declaration which recommends that at least 10 percent of the budget be allocated to agriculture.

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1 week 20 hours ago
Police has denied reports that a compliant of missing person for Fatuma Sendagire Nabiwemba, the deputy head of department Inspections and quality assurance in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ever been filed at any of its stations.
 

Nabiwemba was last seen on December, 12, 2017 at her home in Wampewo, Kasangati on Gayaza road. The DPP deputy spokesperson Irene Nakimbugwe confirmed on Saturday that Nabiwemba has been missing for the last one month. 

"We would like to ask anyone who has any information about Nabiwemba to contact the Police or the office of the DPP," Nakimbugwe told URN.

While the office of the DPP says the case of missing person has already been reported to the authorities, Police records indicate no such complaint filed at Kasangati Police station.

The Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire says, the area police has only received calls inquiring about the missing person but no one has been at the station to file a complaint.

"We have checked in our records but no such missing person complaint has been filed, " Owoyesigyire told URN.

Two weeks ago, Case clinic reported one of its staff members who had gone missing and after a day he was found burnt beyond recognition.

 
The body of Francis Ekalungar, an accountant at Case clinic was found dumped in Kajansi in Wakiso district.
1 week 20 hours ago

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