Minister’s guards probed over stolen ballots, guns

Thursday January 21 2021
latest03pix

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

By Andrew Bagala

Police are investigating an incident in Kyampisi Sub-county, Mukono District, where police officers were put at gunpoint by escorts of a minister who grabbed ballot boxes and ballots on the night of January 14.

The guards of State minister for Water Ronald Kibuule also took away the officer’s guns.

A police source said officers from Nagalama Police Station had gone with Electoral Commission (EC) officials to Kyampisi Sub-county headquarters to collect election materials.

 The source said as the police officers and election officials were waiting for the EC vehicle at about midnight to pick them up, about 10 guards of the minister arrived dressed in civilian clothes. 

The source added that the guards put at gun point the police officers and their commander, the officer-in-charge of criminal investigations at Nagalama Police Station, and EC officials. 

They reportedly grabbed the police guns and loaded the ballot boxes, ballots and results declaration forms on their vehicles and drove off. The police guns were later found abandoned a short distance from the sub-county headquarters.

Advertisement

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 reportedly 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 did not find him.

Mr Abdullah Kiwanuka, who was later declared winner of Mukono North Parliamentary seat, said 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.

“The ballot boxes from Kyampisi Sub-county had been mixed with those from Nama Sub-county. We complained and police confiscated all those materials,” Mr Kiwanuka said.  
 
The EC officials at Mukono tally centre were later allowed to continue tallying results from other polling stations without those from Kyampisi.

Guards withdrawn
A source said Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola and his deputy contacted the army about the conduct of the minister’s guards and they were later withdrawn from him.

“He has been left with Counter Terrorism officers and a new team of soldiers,” the source said. 

The CID spokesperson, Mr Charles Twiine, confirmed the investigations into the stolen guns and election materials in Kyampisi Sub-county but declined to reveal further details.

“It is true, we are investigating those allegations,” Mr Twiine said on Tuesday.

However, he said they had not made any arrest nor summoned the minister for questioning.

Mr Twiine said police were reviewing the CCTV cameras and other additional evidence to establish culpability.

“We haven’t yet reached where we have to summon the minister to record a statement. We are using all police tools to gather evidence first. The materials that were stolen belong to the Independent Electoral Commission. We are still engaging the electoral officers first,” Mr Twiine said.

When contacted, the minister denied involvement in the incident. 
“That isn’t me. I didn’t move out of my home. That is politics,” the minister said.  
The minister claimed the reports of theft of election materials were being generated and spread by political opposition.

Background
Minister Kibuule, who was seeking his third consecutive term, was defeated by a lawyer, Mr Abdallah Kiwanuka, from the Opposition National Unity Platform party. 

Mr Kiwanuka said the stolen ballot boxes later reappeared in an EC vehicle that was assigned to collect election materials from Nama Sub-county in Mukono.

 “The ballot boxes from Kyampisi Sub-county had been mixed with those from Nama Sub-county,” Mr Kiwanuka said.  
 

Advertisement