Since June, 42 attacks and murder incidents have been recorded in Lwengo, Bukomansimbi, Lyantonde, Kalungu, Rakai, Sembabule districts, and Masaka City. Until then, the region was calm. What was evident in the media was the Opposition’s effort to malign the NRM government accusing it of human rights abuses. They were also not amused when the President pronounced himself against torture. Some accused him of speaking as if he was in Opposition.
In the re-emergence of the “bijambiya” terror incidents, Opposition elements accused government of negligence, ineptitude, unwillingness to counter, and possibly complicity in the murders. To hoodwink the public, they have tried to posture as being pained and concerned.
They have been threatening to mobilize supporters to defend themselves should the terror campaign continue. With unfolding events, the murders have been stopped, investigations underway and evidence being assembled with many suspects including two National Unity Platform (NUP) MPs arrested and before courts of law. Now there’s panic in the Opposition.
Among articles flooding the media was one in Daily Monitor of September 7 by Nicholas Ssengoba. Ssengoba claims that the arrest of Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana are politically motivated because NUP obliterated NRM in Buganda. Arrest of suspects is informed by leads in investigations. Whereas their involvement may be politically motivated, their arrest and interrogation isn’t political but suspect criminal responsibility. The two MPs are among many suspects arrested so far, some of whom confessed operating under a group affiliated to NUP being coordinated and sponsored by the two MPs to discredit government.
As to whether conviction will be secured is another matter as that depends on the strength of evidence to be adduced during prosecution. If they are acquitted, it may not necessarily mean they weren’t involved, but that possibly, prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, which could imply that they kept a safe distance. None-the-less, it will be a lesson.
Ssengoba claims that linking the two MPs to the murders yet they are from Kampala sounds funny. He says that soon after elections, an MP is busy “gathering money at every opportunity” to cover up for whateverthey invested to win the seat, and can’t get involved in criminal activities as political activism should be over. I would like to tell Ssengoba that he’s ill-informed. Tony Nsubuga Kipoi, the former MP Bubulo West, won his seat in February 2011 elections on the NRM ticket, but that didn’t stop him from allegedly mobilizing and taking youths to the DR Congo for an armed rebellion against NRM government. Kipoi was subsequently arrested and prosecuted among others for human trafficking. Kipoi was also arrested in Botswana in February 2018, on accusation of fraud. There’s also the case of Akbar Godi (Arua Municipality) serving jail sentence for murdering his wife. As to whether guerilla movements play tricks of attacking during nights and return during day to play the saviour, Ssengoba should know that NRM is now the government and not a guerilla movement, and has full control of State instruments and national resources. Assuming that Ssengoba is right about guerilla tactics, then NUP could be using the tactics albeit imperfectly. Ever since the “bijambiya” operations started, the Opposition has been very active in the media trying to demonstrate how they are the redeemers while government is the culprit. Ssengoba should know that successful guerilla movements are generated and sustained by popular will.
About the apparent ‘confidence’ with which the “bijambiya” goons operate, it should be understood that police deployment in rural areas is usually thin, and other security services are only deployed on need and demand. This gave the criminals the chances to actualize their threats with ease.
In such situations police have to depend on popular intelligence network and community policing. The other alternative is sniffer dogs, but usually the local communities who are the first responders mismanage the crime scenes. Both elements require a well-mobilized and motivated population. However, whereas NUP is dominant in these areas, they are apparently happy when government appears off balance. Under such a situation, cooperation with security agencies and information flow becomes difficult.
Until the installment of CCTV in Kampala and on highways, many crimes in Kampala Metropolitan area couldn’t easily be solved. At one point violent robberies, murders, child abductions, and pick-pocketing were common, a situation that has changed for the better. As usual the Opposition has taken to the media with its unhelpful propaganda to sow discontent.
Mr Ofwono Opondo is the government spokesperson.