Parliament. Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee has called off the investigations into the violence that consumed Rwenzori area and claimed lives of more than 100 civilians and security personnel last month.
Committee chairperson Judith Nabakooba (Mityana District Woman MP-NRM) confirmed the suspension of the probe and denied claims that she had been influenced by the President when the committee met him after they had commenced investigations.
A source on the committee had alleged that the President was concerned about what the committee would do with its report in the face of the on-going criminal trial in court and investigations by security agencies.
“The President, before meeting the committee, was advised by the Attorney General not to make submissions on matters already in court,” the source said.
“Since he had already scheduled a meeting with them, he went ahead to meet them but did not discuss the Kasese matter. He instead asked them to wait for the court processes,” the source added.
When contacted, however, Mr William Byaruhanga, the Attorney General, said he had never given such advice to the President.
“May be if the guidance was given by my deputy (Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana) but all the same, when a matter is before court, there ought not be any development that would influence the decision of court,” Mr Byaruhanga said.
Asked why such guidance was not given to Parliament but to the probing committee, Mr Byaruhanga said the House was advised.
“Who tells you that we did not guide Parliament? What do you do in case you guide them but they choose to continue. In any case Parliament has a legal department and the matter here is of legal interpretation,” he said.
However, another source within the committee said the President only cautioned Ms Nabakooba against proceeding with investigations into a matter already in court.
“I have it from good authority that the report will not be tabled because of issues raised to the chair by the President,” said the source.
Ms Nabakooba later confirmed that they would not be submitting the probe report about Kasese clashes to Parliament, but refuted the claim that she had been stopped by the President from investigating the violence. She said Mr Museveni’s concern was only a matter of guidance on legal grounds.
“The President guided us on sub- judice and there is no way we would go against his word. Even the Speaker was told,” Ms Nabakooba said.
Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (DP- Butambala MP) who attended the State House meeting said although the President raised important reservations, it is only the Speaker to guide the committee on what to do next.
Mr Gilbert Olanya (FDC Kilak South), also a member of the committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, told Daily Monitor that several efforts by the members to inquire about the progress of the probe report and other investigations had fallen on deaf ears.
“After meeting the President we were supposed to go ahead and meet the Omusinga but this has not been done. When you ask her (Nabakooba) she simply tells you to wait,” Mr Olanya said.
“I am suspecting that the chairperson and the “people” responsible decided to simply frustrate our efforts,” he added. However, Mr Olanya declined to reveal what the committee found out during their field visits, saying he would wait for the committee’s position.
When contacted the presidential press secretary, Mr Don Wanyama, said he is not aware about the President’s guidance to the committee.
“I am not aware of the president’s guidance to the committee, but I am certain he met them and definitely the chairperson herself (Ms Nabakooba) should be in position to tell you what happened,” Mr Wanyama said.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winnie Kiiza (FDC-Kasese), said it would be unfortunate for the committee to surrender its parliamentary duties to the hands of the President.
“The committee was assigned by Parliament and Ms Nabakooba should report to Parliament and not the media, if the president stopped her, let her return to Parliament which commissioned the investigations,” she said adding that “for us we assume that the delay to table the report is because of the on-going inquiries but we await her submissions to the House.”
Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind-Ndorwa East), the shadow attorney general, told Daily Monitor that it is wrong for the President to usurp the powers of Parliament.
“It is not the President to determine whether the matter is sub-judice or not, it is the Speaker. Besides the sub-judice rule cannot be used to stifle parliamentary business,” Mr Niwagaba said. He advised that the committee should go ahead and table its findings and leave the rest to the Speaker to guide on what should be debated or not.
“The matter has not yet commenced, so there is nothing prejudicial,” Mr Niwagaba said.