Unmasking commander behind journalists beating 

On the left are some of the errant soldiers who were arraigned and charged by the  general court martial on February 18, 2021 after they beat up journalists on February 17. Lt Col Frank Namanya (right) commanded the operation. PHOTOS/COURTESY/DPU

What you need to know:

  • Although the army spokesperson claimed that there was no evidence implicating the operation commander, Mr Cliff Wamala, one of the victims of army brutality and a senior journalist with NTV- Uganda, identified Lt Col Namanya as the man who hit his head twice.

The man behind the military police operation that left innocent and defenceless journalists in crutches and others nursing injuries for doing their work, has been identified as Lt Col Franklin Namanya also known as “Napoleon”. 

According to multiple military sources, Lt Col Namanya was the operation commander on Wednesday as armed military police operatives beat up and injured about half-a-dozen journalists in Kampala as they covered Robert Kyagulanyi as he presented petition to United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UHCHR). 
Mr Kyagulanyi had visited the UN offices to present a petition on recent political abductions and human rights abuses in the country. 

Seven of his juniors were yesterday arraigned before the lower court martial in Makindye – the military police Unit Disciplinary Committee (UDC) and charged with conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline of the UPDF after clobbering the journalists. 
Asked why Lt Col Namanya was not charged in connection with the beating of journalists in the line of duty, the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Gen Flavia Byekwaso, said the operation commander did not beat anyone and there is no evidence that he ordered the seven army men and women to assault and injure journalists and other citizens.

“The officers who are on the list are the ones that we have charged, no one can tell that he ordered them to beat up any one, people are charged as individuals, everyone is responsible for his or her action. Did you see him beating anyone? Everybody is responsible for his or her actions,” Brig Gen Byekwaso told Daily Monitor  yesterday. 
Sources close to the Special Forces Command, an elite military unit charged with protecting the President and various other special tasks, identified Lt Col Namanya as the head of operation and training at the military police unit. He was captured on camera speaking with an unidentified person on phone. He was seen at the scene in Kololo with a section of military officers who beat up the journalists. 

His image was circulated widely on social media sites as journalists and other citizens united in condemning the attack on journalists and media freedom in the country.
 According to SFC sources, Lt Col Namanya joined the Uganda People’s Defence Forces in 1997 as a cadet officer and attended the Gaddafi School of Infantry in Jinja District.
He has served the army in different capacities and those who served under him at SFC call him  “boss”. 
From 2001 to 2018, Lt Col Namanya served in the SFC unit. In 2019, he was transferred to Military Police Unit as head of operation and training up to date. 

 Although the CDF, Gen David Muhoozi, has apologised and condemned the beating of journalists , Mr Robert Sempala, the executive director for Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda, criticised the UPDF leadership for “shielding” the commander of the operation.
“You cannot charge the young officers and leave out their commander as the boys were operating on the instructions of the commander,” Mr Sempala said.

Although the army spokesperson claimed that there was no evidence implicating the operation commander, Mr Cliff Wamala, one of the victims of army brutality and a senior journalist with NTV- Uganda, identified Lt Col Namanya as the man who hit his head twice.  After seeing Lt Col Namanya’s photo on social media, Mr Wamala, who is nursing a cut on the head, identified him as the man who attacked him on Wednesday. 

“How can UPDF say he didn’t beat anyone yet he hit my head twice? That guy  came with a black metallic button, he came and hit me twice at the back of my head. From there I was rescued by NTV driver who took me to the nearest clinic for first aid because I was bleeding. I am, therefore, shocked that he is not among the charged officers.” 
 

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