Soldiers, MP held over rebel links

Nakawa Division MP Michael Kabaziguruka. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Countrywide- About 30 soldiers, among them two officers in-charge of the armoury, a lawmaker, an Opposition politician and seven civilians have separately been detained and questioned over their alleged links to an unnamed rebel group.

“I can confirm to you that we made those arrests, but I can’t give details,” the Defence and military spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said adding: We are investigating [the matter] together with the police.” A source identified one of the detained soldiers as Capt Ojara, the arms officer (head of armoury) at Bombo Military Barracks.

Detectives for the second day yesterday questioned detained Nakawa Division MP Michael Kabaziguruka, about subversive activities that security agencies are linking to former FDC party presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and ex-spymaster, Gen David Sejusa.

“He said they asked him about rebel activities he didn’t know. They (detectives) said they had arrested Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers, who linked him to a rebel group,” FDC spokesman Ibrahim Ssemujju said after visiting MP Kabaziguruka at Special Investigations Division headquarters yesterday, adding: “He said they also asked him about Dr Besigye and Gen Sejusa’s links to the same rebel group.”

Dr Besigye, indicted for treason, is currently on remand at Luzira prison. The Constitutional Court in 2006 dismissed a similar charge against him, saying his trial in a military court for allegedly heading the shadowy People’s Redemption Army or PRA, was unconstitutional.

Dozens of his supporters incarcerated on similar offences were later granted amnesty in exchange for incriminating Dr Besigye while those that declined remained in prison, with the last PRA suspect released this year.

On Tuesday, police arrested seven suspects, among them an FDC village chairman from Aliba Sub-county on grounds that they were behind an alleged rebel recruitment that led to abduction of 23 locals from Yumbe and Moyo districts three weeks ago.

In a related incident, police on Wednesday intercepted Uganda Peoples Congress party deputy secretary for mobilisation, Mr Dan Oola Odiya, on Coronation Road in Gulu Town as he walked home at around 8pm.

Mr Patrick Okema, the Aswa Regional Police spokesman, said Mr Oola was arrested “on a very sensitive crime following high-level intelligence”. He offered no details.

The week’s arrests, which the Opposition has dismissed as post-election political recrimination, began with a Special Forces-led afternoon raid on Monday in Kyengera, Wakiso District, where some of the suspected soldiers were reportedly hiding in an incomplete two-storey building.

There was brief shooting, three different boda boda riders told this newspaper of the sting operation in Kyengera they said was conducted by four pick-up truckloads of operatives supported by another group in a van.

Only the district police commander, whose name we could not readily establish, joined the team from Kampala.

Senior detectives were later on Tuesday detailed to conduct a forensic and scene of crime analysis at the site, said the acting Kyengera Police Post criminal intelligence officer Maclenn Ahimbi, referring further inquiries to the DPC who was not in office.

The unfinished target building, housing a boutique and two shops on the ground floor, last evening remained guarded by prowling anti-terrorism police and plain-clothed security operatives.

The army, this newspaper understands, is also investigating reported plots to eliminate six UPDF generals considered the anchor of President Museveni’s government. We could not independently verify this allegation.

Asked if the Opposition is up to some mischief, the outing Shadow Defence minister and Obongi MP Hassan Kaps Fungaro said: “No, there is no armed action which the Opposition is considering. My message to the government is arresting people will inflame the situation…and its counter-insurgency measures must be those that are build on democratic principles, particularly regarding the disputed presidential elections.”

Rather than resist, Mr Fungaro said government must embrace the proposal by Dr Besigye, who claims to have won with 52 per cent, for an international audit of the February election results to permanently settle the question of who the true winner was won.

The Electoral Commission declared that Museveni won with 61 per cent, and the Supreme Court ruled that he was validly elected.

In yesterday’s interview, Mr Ssemujju, quoting MP Kabaziguruka, said detectives asked him about Gen Sejusa and Dr Besigye’s links with a rebel group to which some serving military officers are members.

We were unable to reach Sejusa, a general who has been at loggerheads with the military following a no-decision on his application to retire, until the High Court gave him that freedom in a ruling last month.

Mr Kabaziguruka, in whose house detectives allege Dr Besigye swore in as President, was arrested by police operatives at his home in Nakawa Division at around 6am on Wednesday. Upon his arrest, the detectives searched his house and they later confiscated his laptops and mobile phones.

Mr Ssemujju said he told him that he was later bundled in a police van and driven around until 5pm when he was taken to Special Investigation Division (SID) in Kireka, Wakiso District, where he was detained.

“He told me that at 1am, he was summoned by SID commander Mark Odongo and interrogated for two hours on rebel activities he didn’t know,”he said.

By yesterday evening, police officers had been sent back to the MP’s home and surrounded it. They have not given any reason for their new action to the MP’s relatives. The police spokespersons were said to be attending Heroes Day event in Buikwe.

Earlier, the police spokesman, Mr Fred Enanga, said in a statement that Mr Kabaziguruka and others were arrested on very sensitive and serious offences, but declined to divulge details, saying they will jeopardize investigations.

Mr Ssemujju said as he left SID offices yesterday at midday, his colleague was summoned to record yet another statement.
Mr Kabaziguruka has been in and out of police custody on allegations of treason and rebel activity for the last five years but has never been convicted.

FDC maintains defiance stand

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has defended its defiance campaign activities telling court that “those resisting democratic change in the country must be defied”.

This is contained in FDC’s reply to the main petition before the Constitutional Court that was filed in April by the Attorney General (AG), who is seeking court’s declaration that the defiance campaign activities are unconstitutional.

The party further states that as a political party, it is mandated to gain control of government through a popular mandate as the Constitution stipulates.

An affidavit by Nakawa MP Micheal Kabaziguruka explains the party coined the “defiance campaign” name to push for change of government.
He swore that the party has a mandate to obtain control of government through a popular mandate as required by the Constitution in articles 1 (1), 1 (2), 1 (3) and 1 (4).

“I know that the 1st respondent (FDC) as a political party formed under the Constitution, has the obligation to carry out campaigns to influence government in its policies, including and not limited to issues of governance, democracy and human rights,” Mr Kabaziguruka stated.

“I know that Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has called its campaigns defiance as National Resistance Movement (NRM) calls its campaigns resistance and I know that any person resisting democratic change is acting unconstitutionally and must be defied,” he added.

The FDC leader contends that there is no law that bars the party to demand an independent audit of the February 18 presidential results to determine who exactly won the elections.

Dr Kizza Besigye, who was the FDC presidential candidate and runner up of the February 18 elections, has insisted that he won the election with 52 per cent of the total valid votes cast and he has since rejected President Museveni’s victory.

Dr Besigye is currently detained at Luzira prison on treason charges for allegedly swearing in himself as the president of Uganda.

FDC’s filing in of its defence to counter the AG’s main petition, comes at the time when the court has set today (Friday) to hear the pending main petition in connection to the defiance campaign activities.

Recently, the AG withdrew the interim application that was aimed at extending the ban against FDC’s defiance campaign activities such as holding of the weekly prayers at their party headquarters in Nanjjanakumbi, holding of demonstrations in protest of President Museveni’s win and also demanding for an independent audit of the results.

According to the hearing notice before the court, the main petition is going to be heard by a panel of five Justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma. The other justices on the panel include; Richard Buteera, Elizabeth Musoke, Catherine Bamugemereire and Cheborion Barishaki
In the main petition, the AG claims to be dissatisfied with the defiance campaign conducted by Dr Besigye and FDC whose aim he says is to obtain control of the government and that the same is inconsistent with the Constitution.

Reported by Tabu Butagira, Andrew Bagala, Ivan Okuda, Julius Ocungi, Warom Felix, John Okot, Scovin Iceta & Anthony Wesaka