Alleged kidnaps, Torture and Disappearances Must be Stamped Out

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Reports of alleged kidnaps, torture, illegal detentions and disappearances are mostly false alarms but they are nevertheless embarrassment to the well-established track record of the NRM government and must be stamped out immediately. Every person arrested by security agencies must be accounted for in accordance with established procedures and laws of Uganda, offenders punished. Even cases of false alarm and mischief by people who go underground only to surface later must be dealt with. Police must impound any moving without number plates. Investigating officers ought to know that evidence obtained through unlawful procedures is worthless in prosecution. 

It is also necessary to state that virulent groups and gullible media are being used to portray government as run by rogues who have lost moral, democratic and legal campus to deserve any legitimacy. To them, admitting President Yoweri Museveni’s strength, undercuts their false foul cries to persuade foreign governments to sanction Uganda on unverified human rights violations.

In a choreographed scheme, they have chosen words carefully to land powerful punches on NRM and President’s core credentials, respect to human life, dignity, democracy, and the rule of law. They believe that by downplaying achievements in the economy, health, education, infrastructure, security, peace, stability, human rights and governance President Museveni will be thoroughly discredited.

They continue to make the most horrendous allegations of what they christened ‘kidnaps’ rather than arrests. They have coined ‘forced disappearances of persons’, and not detention of violent criminal suspects accused of plotting heinous crimes of subversion, treason and spreading political terror to undermine civil governance.

Most claims of disappearances or torture are false alarms similar to events in 2017/18 where people with social and economic problems would go underground only to resurface weeks later. Others are thieves and victims of mob action, but blame security agencies knowing it takes weeks before truth emerges as the case of Ronald Ssegawa demonstrates. This week, NUP activists took photograph of a woman, Nerima Brenda, at Mbale hospital where she was receiving treatment for wounds sustained when she fell off the rocks and circulated it as a torture victim.

The detractors believe that these fabrications will embarrass and demoralize security personnel and create public disaffection against government. They falsely think that malicious attacks on the integrity of government deny it support and effective response. Unfortunately for them, the NRM and Museveni have been in protracted struggles to fall into traps. There is ample good record in handling mendacious groups and propaganda.  The Luwero Triangle war, and two decades of rebellion in northern Uganda by the LRA where government and Museveni were falsely accused of committing genocide was a well-learned lesson. Opposition politicians who held sway with malicious propaganda for decades have fallen one-by-one. You can ask Norbert Mao, Reagan Okumu, Ogenga Latigo, Odonga Otto, Olara Otuunu, Omara Atubo and Kasiano Wadri to mention only a few.

Most of the ongoing arrests, detentions and prosecutions come against the background that NUP leaders and activists had throughout the election campaigns publicly told Ugandans, that they would not accept election results if they were not declared winners. They vowed to disrupt the polling process midway if they sensed defeat. They also threatened to use militant vigilantes to stop announcement of the presidential results, hold protest carnival for as long as possible, and match onto State Houser until President Museveni caves in.

In all these insidious schemes NUP and their surrogates were bold enough to lay their plots in public view through intimidation, harassment, and physical assault of innocent citizens. Their initial plan was to intimidate voters not to turn out in large numbers on polling day so that NUP hooligans do whatever they wanted with balloting, counting, tallying and eventual results declaration, which the combined security apparatus effectively foiled.

The current anger and frustration for being nipped in the bud has driven them to extreme desperation to the point they are willing to use vagabonds and criminals in adventurous ways to disrupt public order in the false belief they can win unchallenged. People with criminal intent must be told in clear terms that they will be tackled aggressively. NUP continues to hold a hostile posture in the public spaces, gullible mainstream media and social media cesspool to spread false and fake news including with manipulated photographs to show that Uganda is a rogue state. It shouldn’t surprise that to-date, scary but fake documents and photographs meant to sway opinion continue to dominate public discourse.

Weeks to elections until today, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine brazenly defied all electoral rules, and Covid19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to attract wrath, and opprobrium against the police, so as to gain public sympathy. By donning the so-called bullet-proof vest whose efficacy wasn’t proven, Kyagulanyi skillfully accomplished dark drama, like Kizza Besigye and his infamous handcuffs. Having failed in an election they had billed as the waterloo for President Museveni, NUP and its insidious foreign backers including some diplomatic missions here, continue to frame an absurd narrative that Uganda is a criminal state spinning out of control.