Priests, pastors arrested over defying govt guidelines

Monday March 23 2020
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Christ the King Parish in Arua Diocese remained empty. No Mass was conducted yesterday. PHOTO BY FELIX WAROM OKELLO

Kampala- A number of religious leaders were yesterday arrested for defying the presidential directive on closure of all worship centres and ban of large gatherings as a preventive measure against coronavirus.

Pastor Alfred Mubangizi of God is Able Church in Nabukalu, Bwaise in Kawempe Division and Msgr Gerald Kalumba, the Vicar General of Kampala Archdiocese, were arrested, cautioned and later released.
Their followers were also released.

At Christian Witness Church in Kampala, two pastors were arrested, including Ronald Jjemba and another only identified as Muwanguzi.

The church’s senior pastor is former presidential candidate Abed Bwanika.
In Soroti Municipality, Pastor Emmanuel Omara of Zion Healing Ministries International was detained at Kengere Police Post for conducting prayers in his office.

Mr David Ongom Mudong, the regional police spokesperson for East Kyoga, said the pastor was arrested following a tip-off that he had a congregation of more than 50 people contrary to government guidelines.

He said such actions put the lives of many Ugandans at a risk of contracting coronavirus.

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“He was arrested and charged with disobeying lawful orders with intent to mock the President’s efforts in the fight against coronavirus but he was released on bond,” Mr Mudong said.

Cries foul
However, Pastor Omara denied any wrongdoing, saying police arrested him while he was giving a live broadcast on Facebook at his office.
In Kikwaya Sub-county in Kakumiro District, police arrested a Catholic priest, the Rev Fr Tom Kyaligonza, for conducting a wedding ceremony.

He was found on Saturday presiding over a wedding ceremony at Yerusalem Catholic Church in Kyakajumbi Trading Centre.
Mr John Kyamanywa, the Kikwaya Sub-county chairperson, said local leaders tipped police and other top district leaders about the function which had gathered many people.

‘‘I informed police and other officials who said the priest should be arrested. He was taken to Kikwaya Police Post and recorded a statement and was released on bond,’’ Mr Kyamanywa said.

By Alex Tumuhimbise, George Muron & Andrew Bagala

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