21 December 2012

Uganda: Nebanda Death - MPs Sleep At Parliament

The Members of Parliament carrying out parallel investigations into the death of Butaleja woman MP Cerinah Nebanda Thursday night slept in their offices finalizing their report.

Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkizi West), Medard Bitekyerezo (Mbarara Municipality) Sam Lyomoki (Workers representative) and Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) slept in parliament offices for fear of being arrested by Police.

Baryomunsi said they spent the entire night compiling their report and covered themselves with towels that were bought from a supermarket at the nearby Dewinton Road. He said there were too many mosquitoes in the offices but it did not deter them from doing their work. He said they feared they would be arrested by police and their investigations jeopardised.

The four are expected to present their report in parliament today Friday where the deceased's body will also lie in state for colleagues to pay their last respects.

Nebanda's body was to lie in state on Tuesday but was cancelled pending further investigations into what could have been the cause of her death.

The cancellation followed news of the arrest of Dr. Sylvester Onzivua at Entebbe International airport that morning as he was about to catch a South Africa bound flight to carry out independent investigations into the probable cause of Nebanda's death.

Onzivua had been commissioned by Parliament to carry out parallel tests on tissue samples that had been extracted from Nebanda's body.

There were heated exchanges in Parliament following Onzivua's arrest and Dr. Chris Baryomunsi's account of the progress of investigations and how they had been coordinated with the Police further fired up the angry MPs.

Police to probe MPs

A team constituted by President Museveni to reconstruct events that occurred after the death of the former Butaleja district Woman MP led by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hilary Onek, has confirmed that the MPs have to be questioned also for the reckless statements in which they tried to link the Government to the death of the MP.

"The statements made by the MPs against the Government and President Museveni are defamatory. If you make such statements intended to damage such a high-profile leader, the Government has to take action," Onek said.

Onek and the Attorney General, Peter Nyombi, told a press conference at Media Centre in Kampala on Thursday, that the State that is mandated to investigate cases through the Police is concerned about the suspicious behaviour of MPs Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, Dr. Sam Lyomoki and Abdu Katuntu.

The three doctor MPs spent the day holed up at Parliament after they were summoned to CID. They said they feared to be arrested and yet they have important information to deliver to Parliament when it meets today.

Flanked by the health minister, Christine Ondoa, state minister for internal affairs James Baba and an official from the Government Analytical Laboratory, Onek and Nyombi said the Police will question the MPs to establish why they insisted on conducting an independent investigation without involving the institution that is mandated by the Constitution to investigate cases and the Government's chemical analyst.

Onek maintained that the Mulago Hospital pathologist, Dr. Sylvester Onzivua, smuggled the body samples of the deceased out the laboratory on the instructions of the MPs who witnessed the medical examination during which body samples were taken from the body of the deceased.

Onek said the decision of the MPs to disregard the Police warnings and portray themselves as working on behalf of Parliament yet there was no formal communication from the House to the Police in regard to the matter is "highly suspicious and cannot be left to pass without action".

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