20 December 2012

Uganda: Police Have Messed Up Nebanda Probe

Photo: New Vision
Nebanda Cerinah Ariouru.


Consultant pathologist Dr Sylvester Onzivua of Mulago hospital had by yesterday afternoon spent two nights in police custody.

His known crime - until the police state otherwise - is accepting an assignment by Members of Parliament and members of the family of the late Cerinah Nebanda, Butaleja Woman MP, to carry specimens of her body for further toxicological examination in South Africa.

With an atmosphere already poisoned by allegations that Nebanda was murdered, the last thing anyone should have done was to act suspiciously. But that is exactly what the police are doing.

It has been said that police officers were part of the decision to have Parliament commission a parallel investigation to the official one, and they have not denied that. In fact, Dr Onzivua says the bottle in which the specimen he was taking was packed was given by the police. They have not denied that either. So why did they turn around and arrest him?

Strangely, the police themselves don't seem to know why they are holding Dr Onzivua. It appears they wanted to stop him and his mission first, and then find an explanation for their action later. It is, therefore, not surprising that some of their assertions have been contradicted.

For instance, at first they said he was a civil servant who was travelling without permission. Now it turns out he actually got permission from the Director General of Health Services. Then there have been reports that the police intend to charge Dr Onzivua with abuse of office.

Yet no one has explained what wrong he committed, leaving the door open for speculation. Now it gets worse with the revelation that the family did not sanction one Ronald Wandera, a relative of the deceased, to be part of the police medical team that took the official samples to the United Kingdom for further analysis!

The mismanagement of this matter does little to instill confidence amongst Ugandans that the government is willing and capable of resolving such cases.

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