The Minister for Internal Affairs Minister, Gen. Jeje Odongo, finally named 177 persons under its custody, who have been declared missing by relatives.
Gen. Odongo said the individuals arrested were allegedly found in possession of military stores or were said to have been planning an insurrection after the 2021 general election.
“Today, I am presenting to you a list of 177 names clearly identifying the person, the date when the person was arrested, the place where the person was arrested from, the reason why the person was arrested and the case management history,” he said.
He had chosen not to read the names and offered to have the list deposited with Mr Asan Kasingye, the Police Political Commissar, but this quickly received an avalanche of criticism, the first in line coming from the Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju.
“The first time he came here, he read about 40 names; I am surprised that the Minister of Internal Affairs, a General, does not know where people are,” he said.
Ssemujju pleaded with the plenary, chaired by the Deputy Speaker on Thursday, 4 March 2021 that the names be read verbatim, prompting the Minister to oblige.
The largest number of the detainees are held at the Makindye Military Barracks awaiting trial by the Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti-led Court Martial, a move MP Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga), quickly opposed.
“Why are they being tried in the Court Martial; for God’s sake let them be brought to civil courts for trial,” he said.
MP Mathias Mpuuga (DP, Masaka Municipality) got permission to lay on Table his own list, saying it by and large contradicts the one issued by the Minister.
MP Mpuuga said as Vice President of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, he has received a long list of relatives claiming lost loved ones.
“I have my own list of people who have disappeared in the region of 423 persons,” said Mpuuga, adding that most of them are not accounted for in Gen. Odongo’s list.
After the 2021 general election, there has been a widely condemned crack-down on a section of people believed to be working for the Opposition, who suffered dramatic arrests by plain-clothes security operatives moving in the infamous ‘drone’ vehicles.
In an address a month ago, President Yoweri Museveni said the arrests are sanctioned by government, and are meant to forestall an insurrection by the Opposition following their defeat in the elections.
The President condemned foreign interests he said are responsible for motivating the Opposition supporters into violent activities.
He, however, condemned their torture, saying security forces should only arrest and feed prosecutors with good intelligence to build a solid case against those arrested.
On Tuesday, 2 March 2021, Speaker Rebeca Kadaga gave MPs the green light to Table their own list of arrested persons, after government continued to dillydally with its list.