27 January 2013

Uganda: Police Arrest Journalist Instead of MP Kivumbi

Kivumbi escapes as Besigye, Lukwago are netted

Police over the weekend came under attack over the arrest of Dr Kizza Besigye, former FDC President and Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor, two leading figures of For God and My Country (4GC), a political pressure group. Besigye was arrested on Saturday morning as he was leaving his home at Kasangati. He was detained at Kira police station in Wakiso district. An hour later, police arrested Lukwago, and carted him off to Kira Road police station in Bukoto.

Lukwago was scheduled to lead the city's monthly cleaning exercise codenamed: Kampala City Yange. He had invited Besigye and other opposition leaders to participate in the cleaning exercise but the police argued that they wanted to use the activity as a pretext to organise an unlawful assembly.

Vincent Ssekate, the deputy police spokesperson, said the police received intelligence reports to the effect that 4GC was going to hold an unlawful assembly on Saturday. They then promptly issued an order on Thursday (January 24) declaring the assembly illegal. Besigye and Lukwago were arrested for disobeying police orders.

"The police reminds all Ugandans that lawful orders should be obeyed. Police shall cooperate with the public and other security agencies to maintain law and order," Ssekate said. Ssekate added that charges related to disobeying lawful orders would be brought against the politicians.

But FDC spokesperson Wafula Oguttu said the arrests were a clear violation of human rights and indicated that the regime is scared of any opposition.

"It is the cowardice of Museveni. When we laugh, he fears; when we cry, he fears. I think very soon he is going to begin fearing his own shadow," Oguttu said.

Asuman Basalirwa, who is also on police's wanted list, told The Observer on Saturday that it was wrong for police to arrest people on assumption that they were about to commit a crime

"It is really abuse of authority by the police. The event for which they were arrested did not occur," Basalirwa said.

He added that it was wrong for police to declare 4GC an unlawful society because the Constitution court is yet to pronounce itself on this matter.

Kivumbu's dramatic escape:

Meanwhile, Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala MP and one of the coordinators of 4GC, dramatically evaded police arrest on Saturday morning. For two hours, several policemen, armed to the teeth, lay siege around the offices of Radio Simba in Bukoto, waiting to apprehend Kivumbi, who was being hosted on a talk show Gasibagane ne banamawulire (Faceoff with the media).

According to eyewitnesses, after the show, Kivumbi emerged out of the studios sandwiched between two other panelists Siraje Lubwama of The Observer and Ahmed Kateregga of Bukedde. It appears that police could not positively identify Kivumbi, when Tenywa, a Radio Simba journalist, came out and started questioning the heavy police deployment; he was picked up for being argumentative.

They swiftly bundled him (Tenywa) onto a waiting police pickup but mid-way to Kira Road police station, they realised that he was the wrong person. Kivumbi exploited this confusion and hurriedly boarded a taxi to Kampala but disembarked at Kayunga road junction and took a boda boda to The Observer offices. He spent about ten minutes in the library, perusing through newspapers in the library, before leaving untroubled.

Sam Omala, regional police commander who led the operation, was furious with his officers for failing to identify Kivumbi. He publicly lambasted them for letting Kivumbi slip away. Yet even after they had been told that Kivumbi had escaped, they combed Radio Simba offices, overturning tables in the studios and climbing into the ceiling.

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