It was not an entirely incident-free Christmas break for Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze in the island district of Kalangala.
The legislator decided to celebrate her holiday away from the tension-packaged Kampala but police followed her there. Police raided her hotel, Ssese Guest House on Christmas Eve. Nambooze and her family arrived in Kalangala at about 6pm on Monday with a group of about 50 people on a Victoria Events-organised tour of Ssese islands.
As the rest of the group checked in at Ssese Guest House, Nambooze headed for a talk show on Radio Ssese with Bujumba MP Fred Badda. They spoke about everything including the now controversial death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda. The radio appearance alerted the police to her presence in the district and they immediately followed her to the guest house.
"I was moving in and suddenly one police officer who identified himself as the [Kalangala] OC station [Joe Komakech] came to me with a group of other policemen and told me that they had come to offer me security," Nambooze told The Observer.
Nambooze reportedly engaged Komakech in a verbal exchange. Komakech insisted it was his duty to ensure the MP's safety.
"I hadn't asked for their security, and my experience with the police is that every time they come under the pretext of giving me security, they end up harassing me," she added.
The run-in came hours after police arrested Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko. Police issued summons for five legislators, including Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Dr Samuel Lyomoki (Workers), Dr Medard Bitekyerezo (Mbarara municipality), Emmanuel Dombo (Bunyole East) and Betty Nambooze. The MPs were wanted in relation to comments they allegedly made following the mysterious death of Nebanda.
They were also expected to assist the police in pinning pathologist Dr Sylvester Onzivua for allegedly attempting to smuggle Nebanda's body samples out of the country to carry out a private toxicology analysis to determine the cause of death. Komakech is reported to have told Nambooze that he had instructions to ensure the MP was safe since Nebanda had allegedly met her alleged killer Adam Suleiman Kalungi in Kalangala.
However, Komakech's supervisor, Kalangala District Police Commander Samuel Mission, later told The Observer that police had no arrangement of securing MPs.
"That would be giving selective security. There are so many people who visit Kalangala, including foreign tourists; why would we be interested in a specific category of people?" Mission asked.
Asked why the police were interested in securing the guest house where Nambooze and her group were residing, Mission said they were only doing routine patrol. But MP Fred Badda said police withdrew after Nambooze expressed her willingness to report to the CID headquarters after her holiday in Kalangala. Nambooze said she was prepared to answer any questions.
"I have decided to cut short my holiday and return to Kampala and deliver myself to police as ordered..." Nambooze said yesterday as she prepared to catch a ferry out of Kalangala. "I'm going to repeat the statements I made because up to now I have failed to accept the government's report."
Masaka Diocese Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa lambasted police for suppressing public opinion.
"It has now become a crime that when you talk about Nebanda's death, they arrest you, and as I speak to you now, they may also come for me... but that will not stop us," Kaggwa told his congregation in his Christmas homily at Kitovu cathedral.
The prelate also warned about the current stand-off between the president and Parliament.
"The moment one arm of government tries to show its superiority over others, it spells doom for the rest of us. That's why I call for mutual respect between the different organs," he added.
Bishop Kaggwa's remark came a day after President Museveni questioned Parliament's powers.