Minister’s army guards arrested over poll violence

Ronald Kibuule, State minister for Water. PHOTO/ALEX ESAGALA

What you need to know:

  • The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, said the charges to prefer against the security personnel attached to Mr Kibuule are yet to be determined.

The police and the army have arrested four military guards of State minister of Water Ronald Kibuule on allegations of putting at gunpoint police officers before taking away their guns and ballot boxes they were protecting at Kyampisi Sub-county in Mukono District on January 14.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, said the charges to prefer against the security personnel attached to Mr Kibuule are yet to be determined.

“In Kibuule’s case, the officers, particularly the security officers involved, were arrested. In fact, the deputy Inspector General of Police (Maj Gen Paul Lokech) was specifically involved in the arrest of the officers. We are now investigating and we want to prefer charges accordingly,” Gen Odongo said at a press conference at the police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala, yesterday.

Mr Kibuule, also the incumbent Mukono North MP, was battling for the same seat with National Unity Platform (NUP) party’s Abdullah Kiwanuka. Mr Kiwanuka was later declared winner.

 The officers from Nagalama Police Station had reportedly gone with Electoral Commission (EC) officials to Kyampisi Sub-county headquarters to collect election materials when the incident happened.

The police officers and election officials were waiting for the EC vehicle at about midnight to pick the boxes, when about 10 guards of the minister reportedly arrived dressed in civilian clothes.

The guards are said to have put the police officers and their commander, the officer-in-charge of CID at Nagalama Police Station, and EC officials at gunpoint. They are then said to have grabbed the police guns and loaded the ballot boxes, and results declaration forms on their vehicles and drove away.
The police guns were later found abandoned a short distance from the sub-county headquarters.
The stolen ballot papers and results declaration forms were for Kyampisi, Kalagala, Kalasa, Namanganga, Nkonge and Kasenene polling stations in Mukono North Constituency.

The commander of the police team called her superiors at Nagalama and Mukono for reinforcements to recover the stolen guns and electoral materials.
The police reinforcements arrived but were unable to trace the minister’s guards. They then visited the minister’s home to search for the stolen election materials but didn’t find him.

The stolen ballot boxes later reappeared in an EC vehicle that was assigned to collect election materials from Nama Sub-county in Mukono.
The vehicle occupants had brought the ballot boxes to the EC tally centre at Mukono District.

Mr Kibuule’s opponents protested, prompting the police to impound the car and the ballot boxes, which led to the arrest of the soldiers.
There were also allegations that the same soldiers were being used to arrest and detain supporters of Mr Kibuule’s political opponents in unknown facilities.

More than a dozen people from Mukono North Constituency were reported missing after armed men in military uniform arrested them.
Gen Odongo said the arrested soldiers will help the security teams to investigate the whereabouts of the missing persons.

“We would like to investigate whether it was a kidnapping or it was some other operation that caused these individuals to be where they are. We will continue to get the details,” he said.