The Observer (Kampala)

13 November 2012

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - Police Now Turning to Murder Cover-U.S

opinion

On April 21 this year, three policemen drove to Kirinya parish, behind Namboole stadium, and parked in a village called Bombay.

Bombay is about a kilometre from my residence in Bukasa. The policemen parked where a group of youth was playing cards. One of the three policemen, Kasaija Muhammad Amooti, a driver, asked his colleague for his AK47 riffle.

The colleague gave him the gun. Kasaija Muhammad Amooti then shot one of the youths at least two times in the head. This incident happened around lunch time.

It appears this Amooti was known to the youths as they called him by his name, demanding to know why he had shot Godfrey Lutaaya. They demanded that he takes him to hospital. Kasaija and his two colleagues were now full of panic, according to those who witnessed this incident. I am told there was an old woman nearby who also joined the grief-stricken youth in demanding that those who shot Lutaaya should take him to hospital.

Instead of taking Lutaaya to hospital, the panicky policemen drove him to the nearby Kirinya police post. Lutaaya must have breathed his last in this confusion. A protest from residents followed this gruesome murder. Residents invaded Kirinya police post demanding to know why the police, whose job is to protect life and property, had, taken someone's life without just cause.

As usual, Kirinya called for more police patrol reinforcements and the firing of tear gas canisters and live ammunition began. One patrol vehicle drove away Lutaaya's body to Mulago hospital, I guess, for a postmortem. Even when the residents demanded that I join them in the protest, I stayed away because I didn't want to politicize someone's death - I consider it uncultured, the reason I will never forgive Museveni for seeking to gain political capital out of AIP Ariong's unfortunate death.

The following day, RPC Moses Muluya called me and we discussed the murder. Muluya even requested me to accompany police to Lutaaya's home, and I did. The residents almost roughed me up for escorting "murderers", but as leaders we sometimes have to go through this. Police handed over Shs 1m to the bereaved family to help with burial arrangements and transported the body to Lutaaya's ancestral home. The suspects were arrested, charged with murder and court remanded them to Luzira.

But in unclear circumstances, the policeman who lent his colleague the gun that was used in the murder was released without any charge. The actual killer, Kasaija was charged with murder. Although this appears to be a straightforward case, Kira police have deliberately bungled it and I am told the suspect is now free, probably looking for a gun to kill other people.

Anyone on remand, if not committed for trial in 180 days, is automatically given bail by court. Kasaija has been periodically appearing before the magistrate at Kira court but did not appear the last two times. The prisons staff claimed he was sick. The wife of the deceased has been made to go through something akin to torture by the police. First, she was told police needed money to take the gun for examination.

Then the file went missing and only reappeared when she refused to leave the police station. Six months down the road and the police has neither examined the gun nor interviewed any of the witnesses. In fact, someone calling herself a state prosecutor summoned Teo Mutyaba to Kira police station about 10 days ago and persuaded her to accept some money to stop following up the case.

This young lady has even appealed to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but received no help. And I have personally gone through this. A private guard who connived with burglars to vandalize my car was arrested and charged, but that is where the case ended.

He recently called me to tell me he has been released from Luzira, if at all I ever thought he was going to die in there. Kira police have never called me to give more evidence and the case is now as good as dead.

Can you imagine this police which has no time and resource to process murder cases but actually finds them to twice process concocted cases against me! The two cases arose from my participation in the walk to work campaign. I was even sent to Luzira for a week.

Several policemen came to Nakawa court to testify against me, saying I had disobeyed lawful orders and I was a public nuisance. Files containing fabrications against me were prepared and the DPP found reason to have me and all my colleagues prosecuted. These two institutions have no time and resources to prosecute a murder.

God help our country.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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