I felt embarrassed by police’s dehumanizing arrest- Lukwago tells UHRC

Monday September 25 2017
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Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago (right) stresses a point before the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) officials with whom he filed a complaint against police following his arrest last week. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

KAMPALA. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has complained to Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) about his arrest on Thursday last week.

Mr Lukwago said he wants police investigated over his ‘brutal arrest’.

“Police laid siege on my home on Thursday in the wee hours of the morning. They arrested me in a very dehumanizing manner, tore my jacket and squeezed my private parts,” said Mr Lukwago.

He added, “I want the police, especially the IGP Gen Kale Kayihura, to be investigated over the matter and brought to book over these cases. I feel embarrassed and this thing will remain part of me for the rest of my life.”

The UHRC promised to investigate the matter and get back to Mr Lukwago.
Narrating to UHRC how police allegedly tortured him as he planned to leave his home in Wakaliga, Rubaga Division in Kampala, Mr Lukwago accused police of grabbing his private parts and squeezing them hard, causing him excruciating pain.

Mr Lukwago, 47, and a group of other city leaders had planned to hold a procession from City Hall to Constitutional Square to launch their Togibikula (don’t tamper with the Constitution) campaign against the proposed amendment of Article 102(b) to remove the presidential age limit from the Constitution.
Mr Lukwago, who screamed while he was being arrested, told Daily Monitor that police and other plain clothed operatives pounced on him while speaking to journalists in front of his gate before he was bundled on a waiting enclosed police van.


“The police officers caused a lot of excruciating pain to me which I think was meant to incapacitate me. They massively pounced on me as you watched them on television and whoever touched me made sure that they leave pain on the part they had touched,” he said.
“They shoved and punched me, squeezed my private parts, ribs and the entire part of the lower abdomen which left me in a lot of pain. I just surrendered because there is no way I could extricate myself. I still feel pain.” Mr Lukwago said.

He said he went for medical examination on Friday but the doctor told him to go back after a week for further examination. He noted that although his bodyguard, who is also a police officer, Mr Thomas Hiisa, tried to shield him from the charged police officers, he was instead beaten up.
His Personal Assistant, Mr Deo Mbabazi, had earlier on been arrested from his home.

The Lord Mayor explained that during his brutal arrest, all his neighbours fled the vicinity because of the heavy police deployment around his home and nobody was allowed to come to his rescue. “Before my gruesome arrest, my wife, who had moved out to take the twins to school, was traumatised by the siege at our home and they couldn’t help. They went back inside the gate and reorganised to go but they were subjected to thorough check-up, leaving them in fear. Until now, they are still traumatised,” he said.

Mr Lukwago’s experience is similar to that of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party national mobiliser, Ms Ingrid Turinawe, whose breast was squeezed by a male police officer in April 2012 during a rally to launch the 4GC pressure group.
Although Ms Sarah Kanyike, the deputy lord mayor, had alleged on some local radio station that her breast was squeezed by a police officer on the same day at City Hall, she could not answer our repeated calls.

Ms Kanyike and other city councillors had camped at City Hall, waiting for Mr Lukwago who would lead their march to the Constitution Square.
However, their plan suffered a stillbirth when police led by CPS District Police Commander (DPC) Joseph Bakaleke stormed City Hall, holding them hostage for about one hour.
He later impounded their black Tshirts which they had planned to wear during their march.

Mr Lukwago could from time to time pause during the interview him and shake his head in disbelief.
Inside the police van where he was shuttled to Kira Road Police Station, the Lord Mayor revealed that “it’s dark and partitioned into two rooms”, adding that he was made to sit in one small room while the other four plain cloth mean- looking men sat in the other room.

He was later relocated to Naggalama Police Station with Kawempe North councillor Micheal Ziggwa Wamala who had been previously picked from his home.

“My gruesome arrest has humiliated me by virtue of my position as the Lord Mayor and my entire profile. But, I have issued a notice to the Attorney General and Mr Kayihura demanding them to own up, apologise and bring to book those goons who caused pain to me, and also compensate me,” he said.

Mr Emilian Kayima, the spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Police, acknowledged Mr Lukwago’s concern but he noted that he should make a formal complaint with the Professional Standards Unit for further investigations.