Government fails to account for 31 kidnap cases

Friday February 05 2021
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Internal Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo addressing Parliament plenary session on February 04, 2021. Photo | Courtesy

By Misairi Thembo Kahungu

Internal Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo yesterday revealed that government is yet to account for the whereabouts of 31 Ugandans, who were reportedly kidnapped by armed personnel between November 2020 and January.

Gen Odongo was responding to a matter raised last week by Kira Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, who said people armed with guns had kidnapped Mr Sharif Kato, a trader in Kireka Central Market in Wakiso District, and his whereabouts were not known.

While addressing Parliament plenary session chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the minister revealed that a total of 44 reported kidnappings had been recorded at several police stations but only 13 had been investigated conclusively by the police.

“I undertake to give progress about the ongoing investigations with time as they are being undertaken,” Gen Odongo said.

Gen Odongo while giving account of the 13 cases in which the victims are not missing, told MPs that some of them were arrested by the security personnel on allegations of abetting terrorism.  

Mr Ssemujju said: “I am puzzled that the minister confessed that people are missing and after one month, they cannot be found.  What is the use of these cameras if they cannot see these people?”
Mr Sssemujju claimed that he heard some of the missing, many of whom being supporters of the Opposition political parties, might have been killed.

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The Kumi Municipality MP, Mr Silas Aogan, demanded that the government presents to the House a comprehensive report about the effectiveness and reliability of the CCTV cameras because criminal activity has persisted despite their installation.
The MPs also pointed out that the kidnappings were concentrated in the Central region.

Ms Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo District Woman MP, said: “My concern is that, when people are missing, the lives of other people are threatened. It is happening mainly in the central region and is sending panic on which region is next.”
 
Speaker Kadaga also tasked the government to update the country about the progress of the gun census because there have been many cases especially in Kampala where people donning in civilian clothes have been wielding guns.

In his response, Gen Odongo denied knowledge of any person among the missing being dead.

He also told the House that capturing data and thumbprints of holders of guns in the police, army, and civilians with licences has been concluded but did not give details.

Gen Odongo insisted that there is no deliberate targeting of people in Buganda by any security agency but said the nature of criminal activity in Uganda “tends to move in waves and in circles”, citing the spate of women murders around Wakiso and Entebbe Districts a few years ago.

Gen Odongo, however, conceded that many of the reported kidnappings were reportedly executed by people travelling in numberless vehicles, adding: “Some of the perpetrators have been arrested and some individuals had guns.”

Issue
Presidential runner-up Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform (NUP) has said many of his supporters have have been arrested and held incommunicado before and after elections.

mkthembo@ug.nationmedia.com

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