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More FDC supporters arrested

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By Gerald Bareebe & Joseph Mazige

Posted  Tuesday, June 21   2011 at  00:00
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Kampala/Mbarara

As two more people were arrested by security agents in western Uganda yesterday, the FDC party accused the government of witch-hunting its members over the death of a renegade former senior army officer.

“We want intelligence agencies to exist but we must expose them when they accept to be used by the government. The military is now being used by the government to torture opposition activists,” FDC deputy spokesman Boniface Toterebuka, said.

The arrest of Mr Obed Musinguzi alias Ssebagala, a former FDC candidate in the Bushenyi District local council elections, and Grace Twinomujuni, a nurse at Valley College Bushenyi, brings to five the number of people locked up over the matter.

Their arrest follows last week’s military detention of Mr William Mukaira, 83, proprietor of Valley College and FDC chairman for Bushenyi, along with Dr Aggrey Byamaka, an FDC official in Mbarara Municipality, and Mr Abel Kacwano.

With the elapse of the 48-hour constitutional limit within which a person can be held without charge, relatives and party lawyers are demanding that government either produces them in court or sets them free.

FDC lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi, yesterday visited Mr Mukaira in Mulago Hospital where he was admitted in failing health. “He is not well so I didn’t have proper instructions from him,” Mr Nsibambi said, adding, “I do not even know when he will be taken to court.”

It is understood that the State believes the FDC members were involved in sneaking the body of Col. Edison Muzoora, a renegade officer who was implicated in an alleged 2001 plot to overthrow the government, into the country.

Muzoora’s death
On May 27, Col. Muzoora’s relatives were shocked to find his body dumped on the veranda of his house in Kyeigombe, Kyabugimbi Sub-county, Bushenyi District. Army Spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye said: “We have handed Dr Byamaka to police,” adding that when investigations are over, the suspects will be produced in court and the charges against them will be known. “We need to find out the cause of Muzoora’s death, after all everybody has been claiming that government killed him. Now, we are doing our work and they are saying that government is witch-hunting people. We are doing this investigation together with the police,” he said.

The FDC has condemned the arrests and likened the conduct of state security organs to those under former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, whose reign was characterised by extra-judicial killings and detention without trial.

“We are perturbed that security agencies have adopted the same mode of operation like the one we saw under Idi Amin,” Mr Toterebuka, said yesterday. “You cannot be arresting people from their homes and keeping them in ungazetted military detention centres and you claim to be a civilised government.”
“Neither FDC nor any of its members has any hand in the murder of Edison Muzoora. FDC is a clean party which conducts all its activities in open. The military should allow investigations to be carried out by the police,” he said.

Regional police spokesperson Polly Namaye said of the suspects yesterday: “We shall take them to court after getting advice from the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution). We shall have a solution if the investigations take longer.”