By our reporter
Family members related to a Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activist who fled the country Five years ago, say they live in constant fear with unknown people trailing them and at times intruding into their home.
Family members and relatives of Samson Ojwang who currently lives in the US, are now contemplating selling off their Muyenga home citing harassment and intrusion on privacy by security agents, for unclear reasons.
Ojwang’s family woes started way back in 2011 when he returned from study in UK with intentions to contest for a political office in Gulu District Local Government on FDC ticket. He was however arrested at Entebbe International Airport by three plain-clothed security operatives and roughed up on claims that he was part of a group working with foreign agents to cause insecurity in the country.
Donning an FDC shirt, the young man of 30 years then, was humiliated before his wife and child, detained at CPS in Kampala for two (2) days before he was released on police bond but missed nominations to contest, and ended up in Nsambya hospital seeking treatment for bruises he suffered at the hands of his captors.
He says his tormentors accused him of being an “FDC hooligan” who has been on security radars for various offences. As noted, he was released on bond but lost his 500Pounds, a phone and other valuables courtesy of his captors.
Ojwang had joined the opposition FDC earlier in 2007 and he later linked up with a team of activist back in the UK under what was known as “Acholi FDC Group” before his short-lived return to Uganda having been appointed as a campaign agent for candidate Dr Kizza Besigye in the 2011 presidential elections.
Now living in Michigan USA where he fled to in 2017, his family members living in Muyenga Bukasa near the capital Kampala claims the security opetatives have on numerous occasions made raids on their home and conducted unwarranted searches in which items like phones, computers and cash are confiscated under the guise of investigations.
Grace Luwum -Ojwang’s maternal aunt says every time FDC has a political activity in Uganda, family members encounter strangers peeping around the home possibly hoping Ojwang could have sneaked in.
During the recent Christmas season, Ojwang’s family experienced the same scenario after security picked information that Pageya clan to which Ojwang belongs, had convened a meeting to schedule the last funeral rites of Ojwang’s parents and it was decreed that all children must be present for a traditional “Mato-oput” ceremony. December 28th, 2022 was the appointed date for the cerenony but the event was cancelled indefinitely following reports of increased surviellence at their family homes by unknown people.
Coincidentally, FDC together with other opposition parties, had also organized the End-of-year prayer gathering at Sharing Hall Nsambya in Kampala on New Year’s Eve. This event which was scheduled to take place on 30th December 2022 was violently disrupted by police, tear gas was fired at the participants and more than 22 people arrested.
Before Ojwang left for the US in 2017, he had his fair share of encounters with security especially during the heated 2011 presidential elections and the “Kogikwatako” political crusade of 2017 as the opposition staged protests against Constitutional amendments to remove presidential age-limit giving President Yoweri Museveni a fifth term as president of Uganda.
His eloquence and charismatic style of activist made him a legitimate target for security operatives who were visibly out to protect the regime in power. Police started harrassing his wife with threats that her husband should rather avoid politics or he will be hunted down and “settled.”
In October 2017, Ojwang could not bear it any more after his tormentors located his private residential home. He started sleeping in different places to avoid arrest. His home in Bungatira village Gulu District was raided by security at 3AM. During this raid, Ojwang’s niece (17 years then) was seroiusly assaulted and the case is under investigation.
Before he fled the country, a source in the FDC party confirmed that through Mr Livingstone Kizito who was the party Chairman Kampala Metropolitan area, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi who was Gulu District Chairman then, and Alice Alaso the then Secretary General, tried to intevene in Ojwang’s situation but in vain.
Now his family says they are fed up of being victimized. There is an aura of fear and a deep sense of insecurity around the home as it is common for residents see strange people.
“It is better we sell the house and relocate elsewhete since there is no peace here” Grace who lives in Muyenga home said; “We feel it is no longer safe here since the intention of these people who come here is not clear”
Asked if they have reported a case to police, Grace replied in the affirmative but prefers an independent Human Rights organization to conduct an investigation into the matter.
Henry Oballim -a friend to Ojwang told this reporter that criminals can also take advantage of the situation to cause harm to the family since the intruders do not come in uniform nor identify themselves.
“One day I bumped into people at the gate of the house and they subjected me to serious questioning” He says he later learnt that they had mistaken him to be Ojwang who was expected at home this Christmas but did not travel owing to various reasons.