The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has raised a red flag over President Museveni’s involvement and the government’s handling of events following the controversial death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda.
“The events after the late Cerinah Nebanda’s passing are a culmination of bad policing and apparent micro-management that has led to increasing concern about the personal safety of citizens in Uganda; especially those critical of the government,” the ULS chairperson, Mr James Mukasa Sebugenyi, said in a statement to the media yesterday.
The ULS is an influential umbrella body that unites all Ugandan lawyers.
Mr Sebugenyi said the events had shown that “there is an apparent defilement of the legislative arm of government”.
This follows Mr Museveni’s recent public criticism of outspoken ruling party MPs and his decision to ask the police to interview Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
“Parliament is an independent institution and can, as it deems fit, conduct an internal inquiry into a colleague’s death.”
On Monday, President Museveni told journalists that the police should interview Speaker Kadaga over her decision to rubbish a government report that concluded that Nebanda had died as a result of taking drugs.
He also described as “criminal” attempts by MPs to conduct a parallel inquest into Nebanda’s death without police involvement.
Parliament had contracted a private forensic pathologist, Dr Slyvester Onzivua, who got arrested last week as he set out to fly to South Africa with body samples of the late MP.
Lawmakers Dr Chris Baryomunsi and Mr Muhammed Nsereko remain incarcerated following their arrest on Christmas Eve, while police are hunting for five other legislators.
In the statement, Mr Sebugenyi said there was need to restore public confidence in the investigation process conducted by the police.
“A public inquest into the cause of her death under the Inquests Act CAP 11 Laws of Uganda by reputable, independent and professional coroners that are acceptable to the family, Parliament and all parties concerned is advisable to obtain credible results in the eyes of the general public and all concerned,” Mr Sebugenyi said.
On Monday, a visibly infuriated Mr Museveni described as “idiots” and “fools” people who suggested that his government had a hand in Nebanda’s death.
He moved to heed demands for an inquiry and ordered a judicial inquest into the legislator’s death, although no communication has since been issued about its composition or when it is expected to commence its work.