The minister for Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odongo has said people purported to be “missing” following a wave of arrests that happened during and after the 2021 elections in Uganda, could be in hiding to evade arrest for various offences they committed.
Gen Odongo’s remarks are part of the statement he presented to parliament in regard to alleged disappearances and abduction of opposition supporters by state agents during the hotly contested January elections.
The statement was prompted by a question by Hon Ibrahim ssemuju Nganda on the ongoing inquiry by parliament into the whereabouts of more than 200 people mainly opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters. The Speaker, Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga, had directed the Internal Affairs minister to present a comprehensive statement in response to the matter.
In his statement, the minister presented a fresh list of individuals arrested since 18th November 2021 indicating that 1035 suspects were arrested of which 901 have been charged in courts, 113 released on police bond including Robert Kyagulanyi and FDC’s Patrick Oboi Amuriat.
The statement also indicates that of the 269 suspects arrested involving in the 18th and 19th November riots, 775 were taken to court, 04 cases concluded, while 90 cases are still under inquiry.
The statement shows that a total suspects arrested, 734 were charged in court and 167 were released on court bail. 21 suspects were cleared and released by police, 51 were convicted and sentenced to prison while others were either given penalties; 28 community service, 20 cautioned and 3 imprisoned.
The statement shows that 54 persons died in the riots (45 male, 06 female and 03 male juveniles). 0f the 45 males one was a victim of car accident – car no. UAW 827N.
The minister also noted that there are individuals still held by security agencies to assist in
investigations especially those who were arrested for election related offences.
He said of the 423 persons listed and presented by Hon. Mathias Mpuga as missing, 58 have been released or on remand while 365 have not been verified because that list did not indicate time, location of arrest. He said intelligence reports show that many of the said “missing persons” could be hiding in villages and other areas for fear of being arrested for various offences committed.
Kilak County MP Gilbert Oulanyah however questioned why arrests by security agents continue to happen. He said many people have disappeared and many continue disappearing up to day.
Kawempe North MP Latif Sebaggala Sengendo cited the likes of Mr Kibalama John Bosco who went missing on 3rd June 2019, and have never been seen anywhere up to today. “I believe, on humanitarian grounds, we need to come to the rescue of many Ugandans who are crying because of their missing relatives”
Kasese Municipality MP Centenary Robert expressed disappointment over arraign civilians in Court Martial. “Why do you apply double standards, Uganda is supposed to be a democratic Country. Court Martials were created for soldiers, specifically the UPDF. Why do you subject civilians to a military court?”