Where are NUP’s missing supporters?

What you need to know:

  • The 12 were reportedly abducted separately from various places ahead of the 2021 General Election.

The Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party has insisted that at least 12 of their supporters, who they claim were abducted by security agencies two years ago, are still missing.

The 12 were reportedly abducted separately from the various places ahead of the 2021 General Election.

But Gen Jim Muhwezi, the Security minister, in an interview yesterday denied having in their custody any of the NUP supporters.

He said Uganda doesn’t have any safe houses where such suspects would be kept, describing the matter as “NUP propaganda”.

“This matter has been raised in Parliament and in my view, ably discussed. We don’t have any of them in our custody and how sure are they that it is government security agencies responsible for their disappearance?” Gen Muhwezi wondered.

But Mr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information, said the government is aware of “goons who were arrested at that time for beating people and undressing NRM supporters." 

“If they are still in police custody, we appeal to the police to take them to court but I also know that these are just political semantics from the Opposition.”

The missing people include; John Bosco Kibalama, Micheal Semuddu, John Damulira, Moses Mbabazi, Farouq Omar Ssegujja, Vincent Nalumoso, Martin Lukwago, Muhammad Kanatta, Yuda Sempijja, Musisi Mboowa and Peter Kirya.

However, government accounts of the whereabouts of some of the people on the list have kept changing from time to time.

For instance, 10 of them appeared on the government list that was presented in Parliament last year by the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odongo as having been arrested in connection with the 2021 election violence. The other two remain unaccounted for.

Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said he was yet to find any update about the whereabouts of the 12. “No information yet. As soon as I get any feedback, I will share it accordingly with you,” Mr Enanga said in a Whatsapp message.

NUP lawyers frustrated
Now NUP lawyers handling the matter say they are giving up on the search for the abducted people and are rather “painfully” filing to seek compensation from the government for the families of those that lost their loved ones.    

Mr George Musisi, a lawyer who has been handling this matter, said they had tried everything possible, including securing court orders, to have the group released unconditionally or produced in courts of law in vain. 

“We think this has not yielded any fruit and we shall just have to ask the government to compensate these families,” he said.

The NUP party secretary general, Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, said: “The families of those that disappeared have remained desolate and have failed to provide for their families because most of those abducted were the breadwinners.”

Farouq Omar Ssegujja

Most of the families of the missing people we talked to are pessimistic about ever seeing their people again.  
Ms Monica Kibalama, the wife of John Bosco Kibalama, 39,  told this newspaper in an interview that she keeps getting nightmares about her husband’s return.

Ms Sarah Damulira, the wife of John Damulira, said: “My husband left behind about 15 children and it is hard to take care of them. I don’t know what to tell them whenever they ask me where their father is.”

Ms Sanyu Namugenyi, the sister of Moses Mbabazi Kawenja, said the latter was a boda boda rider who was picked up by armed men from Kisekka market in November 2020.
Ms Grace Mbabazi, wife of Peter Kirya, says her husband was picked on December 1, 2020, from Kyebando.

“I have never met him and all the police stations have denied having him. He was on the government list but now I don’t know where they took him.”

Mr Hassan Mubiru was picked up from his home at 4am on November 20, 2020 and he has never been seen again.

Mr John Bosco Kibalama, a People Power accountant, who was abducted by uniformed security men on Gayaza- Kampala highway in June 2019, is yet to be found.

The list also has 26-year-old Mustafah Luwemba, a boda-boda rider who was picked from Kyebando on November 19, 2020.
Mr Yuda Sempijja was abducted from Kabembe Town, Kyampisi Sub County in Mukono District at around 7pm on December 20, 2020 while Martin Lukwago was abducted from Bugolobi market on November 23, 2020.
Ms Bettie Ssegujja said her husband, Farouq Omar Ssegujja who had been arrested and released twice over the presidential campaigns told her that he was fearing for his life before he disappeared in December 2020.

“He just left the house one morning without saying a word. He did not return home and my relentless search for him has not yielded any fruits. Some people told me that he was abducted by armed men driving in a drone but I have never seen him. I have moved to different police stations and prisons but couldn’t find him,” she said.
Ms Esther Nabawanuka said her then 32-year-old husband, Musisi Mboowa was abducted on December 18, 2020 in Kisenyi and has never been seen since then. 

Vincent Nalumonso, a 27-year-old mechanic then was picked in December 2020 near Bugolobi market. 
The 27-year-old George Kasumba was picked from Kyotera on January 21, 2020. 
Shafik Wangolo, a taxi driver in Kyebando, Nansana was picked from Nansana in December 2020 while Muhammad Kanatta was picked from Walusubi, Mukono District in December, 2020
 

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