Uganda: Jinja RDC Sakwa Suspended Over Manslaughter Charges

Jinja Resident District Commission Eric Sakwa has been interdicted to allow proper investigations into manslaughter charge against him.

Mr Sakwa on Monday this week returned to office to resume his duties as RDC after securing bail.

But on the same day, Hajj Yenus Kirunda, secretary to the Office of the President, wrote asking him to hand over office to the District Internal Security Officer (DISO), Lt Obadiah Musimenta.

"You're required to hand over any government property in your possession in accordance with the laid down procedure and regulations," Hajj Kirunda wrote in a May 4 letter copied to the Minister for the Presidency, Head of Public Service, Secretary to Cabinet and the DISO.

"Please hand over to the District Internal Security Officer (DISO) for Jinja who will in addition to his schedule or duties perform the responsibilities of the Jinja RDC until otherwise advised or decided accordingly," letter further reads.

It is the second time in four years Mr Sakwa is being asked to hand over office to the Diso. In 2016, he was acrimoniously transferred to Kumi after clashing with his counterparts in Luuka and Butaleja districts over funds for organising the 54th Independence Day national celebrations.

However, a reshuffle in 2018 saw Sakwa bounce back to Jinja as RDC.

Half salary

In interdiction, Mr Sakwa is barred from leaving the country without clearance from the Secretary, Office of the President, and will receive half pay - subject to a refund in case the interdiction is lifted and the charges are dropped later.

Mr Sakwa, 38, was on April 24, arrested and charged with manslaughter over the death of businessman Charles Isanga.

Prosecution alleges that between March 22 and April 17 this year, Mr Sakwa, along with Bumali Bazimbyewa, 19, a mechanic and Simba Mohammed, 31, a businessman, unlawfully caused the death of Isanga, a resident of Lwanda Village in Jinja.

Mr Sakwa on Friday refused to comment on his interdiction, referring this reporter to his appointing authority. However, in an interview last week, he accused Jinja West Member of Parliament Moses Balyeku of having engineered his troubles with the law.

"Balyeku is the one who engineered everything; of course, he denies but he is the one who does all that," he told Daily Monitor last weekend.

MP Balyeku denied the allegations, saying: "I have no problem with Sakwa what necessitates me to go to that level of arresting him. I am not a police officer, minister in government or army officer but an ordinary backbencher in Parliament. I don't have those powers to make court sit at 4pm," he added.

While Sakwa had a relatively calm moment in Kumi during his brief stint as deputy RDC, his two times in Jinja have been riddled with controversy, climaxing in accusations of abuse of power and torture of citizens.

In February, Mr Sakwa led security forces in arrest of Opposition politicians, including FDC stalwart DR Kizza Besigye. He later blocked the Opposition leader from access Jinja, labelling him a "desert locust" who needed a permit to visit the eastern district because "he is over-visiting Jinja."

There are several complaints from a section of the public that while enforcing health guidelines and curfew, Sakwa crossed his mandate by threatening persons at gunpoint and beating up others.

Mr Balyeku said the interdicted RDC is battling skeletons in his closet. He took a swipe at the supporters who protested the arrest.

"The same people who are praising Sakwa are the ones who chased him away from Jinja, humiliated him and took him to Kumi District," he said.

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