Entebbe — Police arrested bedridden Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake as he reached Entebbe Airport to travel abroad for specialised treatment after Lubaga Hospital, where he had been admitted, said they could no longer manage his deteriorating health.
Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, who had been scheduled to fly out of the country to seek specialised treatment for injuries inflicted on him in detention by the security forces in Arua, was also blocked at the airport by security forces last evening.
In a telephone interview earlier, his elder brother Eddy Yawe confirmed Mr Kyagulanyi was scheduled to fly abroad for further medication.
"We are flying him to a USA hospital for further scans on his hip and the organs, which have been found with problems. We do not know how long we shall be there but the doctors will be able to tell us according to their prescription. We shall be setting off from Entebbe airport this evening (yesterday)," Mr Yawe said.
Asked whether Lubaga Hospital had failed to handle Mr Kyagulanyi's condition, Dr Peter Kibuuka, the hospital's managing director, did not deny or admit but said they could not block "someone's choice."
Both MPs are admitted to Kiruddu General Hospital.
Zaake's passport confiscated
Police confiscated his passport and boarding pass and those of his wife Bridget Namirembe, who was accompanying him.
Mr Zaake was driven from Lubaga Hospital to the airport in the hospital ambulance followed by an AAR back-up ambulance in the morning hours.
Mr Zaake suffered severe injuries, which were allegedly inflicted on him by security forces who arrested and beat him during the chaos in the Arua Municipality by-election campaigns about two weeks. He had spent about two weeks at Lubaga Hospital under treatment for the injuries.
He is part of Opposition politicians and other civilians who were violently arrested during the Arua chaos where President Museven's car was allegedly stoned.
"You cannot go from here unless you present travel clearance from the Criminal Investigations Department," the Chief of Joint Security Operations at Entebbe Airport, Mr James Ruhweza, told Mr Zaake in the VIP lounge where the sick MP had been delivered in an ambulance en route to Manipal Hospital in India.
Police later issued a statement explaining why they blocked Mr Zaake's travel and said he had been arrested and at an appropriate time he will be charged in court with offences committed during the Arua Municipality by-election chaos about two weeks ago.
His co-accused MPs and others have already been charged in court with treason.
"During the recently concluded by-election in Arua Municipality, several offences were committed by some people. The offences included treason, assault, malicious damage to property... . Investigations revealed a number of suspects, including Hon Francis Zaake Mutebi who either directly and or indirectly occasioned these offences. Thirty three of the suspects are already charged before court... ," the police said in a statement signed by the public relations officer, Mr Emilian Kayima.
Mr Kayima claimed when Mr Zaake was arrested on August 13, he was taken to Arua Hospital and admitted but while he was still being treated, he escaped from custody. He said police later discovered he was at Lubaga Hospital in Kampala but refrained from interrupting his treatment.
He said when Mr Zaake alleged that he was still unwell, police went to Lubaga Hospital to take him to Mulago hospital for government doctors to examine him but the hospital authorities declined to hand him over.
"This morning (Thursday) police found Hon Zaake at Entebbe International Airport trying to flee the country and accordingly apprehended him. He will be taken to Mulago Hospital for examination and or further management while under police custody as earlier intended. He will be produced before court at an appropriate time," Mr Kayima further said in the statement.
Mr Ofwono Opondo, the director of Uganda Media Centre, a government media agency, earlier posted on his Facebook account that Mr Zaake was a wanted man.
"Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake is a suspect on the run who disappeared from lawful Uganda Police Force custody in Arua and should be arrested at the earliest. He could be trying to escape from justice," Mr Opondo tweeted.
Mr Zaake reached the airport in an ambulance at 11.40am. At the airport, tempers flared as Members of Parliament who included Ms Babirye Kabanda (Masaka District Women), Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West), Mr Elijah Okupa (Kasiro County) and Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa demanded that Mr Zaake travels.
Mr Zaake was due to travel on Ethiopian Airlines at 1.30pm but missed the flight. The airline staff said he would board a second flight at 3.35pm but he missed that too. By 5pm he had missed three flights.
Frantic telephone calls were made between Kampala and Entebbe, but they yielded no useful results.
MP Kabanda said she had had communication with Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who told her that a security meeting in Kampala had resolved that government pays treatment fees for Mr Zaake but it required medical examination by medical experts at the government's Mulago hospital.
"The Prime Minister also says Mr Zaake escaped, so police would like to interview him but he has given an assurance that Mr Zaake will travel," Ms Kabanda said.
Last evening, a criminal investigation department (CID) team led by Ms Grace Akullo, went to Entebbe Airport in the company of Dr Moses Byaruhanga, the police director of medical services, to oversee Mr Zaake's transfer to Mulago hospital.
"The (reason why we are here) is to communicate to you with my boss (Akullo) that Mr Zaake cannot travel thing evening because of what we agreed in the morning security meeting," Dr Byaruhanga said.
Zaake speaks out
At the airport, the frail Mr Zaake complained of persecution by the State.
"They tortured me to cover up the killing of Yasin Kawuma and retaliate on what looked to them as a loss of polls. They refused to pay for my medical and my family devised means and they are now denying me exit," Zaake said at the airport.
"Could it be that they want me dead? Going to Mulago Hospital will be by force. It's not my conscience, I would rather die here from the airport," Mr Zaake said.
On Tuesday Ms Akullo went to Lubaga Hospital to pick Mr Zaake but the hospital authorities refused to surrender him.
MP Ssewanyana said on arrival at the airport, the head of the police Mr Oloka told them Mr Zaake would not travel.
"Family has met Sh200m expenses, why would government stop him from travelling? Mr Ssewanyana asked.
Mr Basalirwa wondered why the State would block Mr Zaake from going for treatment abroad.
"Mr Zaake is a citizen who cannot escape from the country. Let them not create bad scenes," he said.