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in the media

A high ranking UPDF officer is behind bars at Lwebitakuli Police station, Lwebitakuli Sub-county in Sembabule District over allegations of defiling a primary six pupil.
Captain Godfrey Kalema was arrested on allegations that he defiled a 16-year-old pupil of Mpumude Primary school in Lwebitakuli Sub-county.

Mr David Wahebwa, the school’s head teacher told this reporter that the victim was examined at St Agatha Health Canter III, a catholic health facility in Lwebitakuli, where it was confirmed that the girl had been defiled.
“The offended girl revealed that she was defiled by her brother-in-law, after her sister left home” Mr Wahebwa said.
He said the victim has been living with her elder sister at Mpumude Village in Lwebitakuli Sub-county.

Mr Clement Kikonyogo, the officer in charge of criminal investigations at Lwebitakuli Police station confirmed the arrest.

“It true he is in our custody over alleged defilement but I’m yet to interrogate him and get his side of the story,” he said.
Mr Kikonyogo further noted that Kalema will be sent to Sembabule Police station as investigations continue.

Defilement remains one of the major cases recorded at Sembabule Police Station and just recently, police report revealed that a total of 67 cases of defilement had been recorded in five months (December and April).

4 hours 53 min ago

Bank of Uganda yesterday served Sudhir Ruparelia with court summons almost 20 days after the bank sued the businessman on June 30 for allegedly spiriting away Shs 300bn from Crane Bank.

The Observer understands that Sudhir lawyers were served yesterday by Bank of Uganda’s legal team at around 11am though the summons were issued by the Commercial court registrar on July 3.

The BOU team served Peter Kabatsi, a senior partner with KAA, the lawyers of Sudhir. If Sudhir had formally received the summons and the plaint earlier, he would have been required to file his defence at the Commercial court by latest July 19, 2017. Now Sudhir has 14 days from today to file his defence.

Serving is an essential step in commencing a civil lawsuit.

Sudhir Ruparelia

Uganda’s civil procedure rules provide that service of summons has to be effected within 21 days from the date of issue; though the time may be extended on application to court, made within 15 days after the expiration of the twenty-one days, showing sufficient reasons for the extension.

Asked why they  delayed serving Sudhir, one lawyer contracted by Bank of Uganda to handle the case said, “We are discussing the matter.” He declined to be named.

The Observer understands that despite the delay in serving Sudhir, he had already  assembled a legal team to work on the case. Sudhir’s lawyers, The Observer learnt, had used their own channels to get Bank of Uganda’s plaint plus the mediation summary, but couldn’t get the annexures where the details of the allegations are.

“The real case can only be found in the annexures,” a source told The Observer.
“It’s very hard to come up with a credible defence without them [annexures].”

The delay by Bank of Uganda to serve Sudhir had been interpreted by his lawyers as a tactic to corner him into capitulation before the case starts.

“It’s very clear now that for them they have put out their side of the story in which our client is being maligned but we cannot put up a defence since we have not been served. We don’t understand their intentions,” one of Sudhir’s lawyer said.

In its case before Justice David Wangutusi, the head of the Commercial court, BOU is seeking to  recover $93.8 million (Shs 337.6bn) and Shs 60.3bn from former Crane bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparelia and his real estate company Meera Investments. 

“The Bank of Uganda as a receiver of Crane Bank Limited and regulator of the banking sector sanctioned the filing of a suit against Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited to re coup funds that were fraudulently extracted from, as well as losses that were caused to Crane bank,” said BOU in its statement last Friday.

The central bank argues in court documents that Ruparelia used several companies to transfer money from the bank. The bank also found that Sudhir owned almost 100 per cent of the bank, contrary to local regulations that require no single individual to wholly own a financial institution.

4 hours 54 min ago

President Museveni’s claim that there is no proposal for amendment of the Constitution to do away with the upper presidential age limit has been exposed after several NRM groups came up in support of the proposal.

Asked to comment on manoeuvres to change article 102(b) of the constitution, Museveni told journalists at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Wednesday, that this was diversionary talk as there was no such proposal, adding that he was too busy to discuss it.

However, while Museveni was at pains to distance himself from the manoeuvring, hundreds of NRM activists were busy, in his name, raising their voices in support of the controversial bid.

On Tuesday, the president’s private secretary for political affairs, David Mafabi, addressed a group of NRM youth leaders at Kati Kati restaurant in Kampala and urged them to boldly popularize the age limit removal.

The youths passed a resolution urging President Museveni to allow wide consultations by NRM members on whether age should be used to lock out potential presidential candidates. The resolution was read by Phoebe Namulindwa, a youth leader from Luweero.

NRM youth under the Organisation For Action (OFA) show their support for the lifting of age limit yesterday at Seascallop restaurant

Asked about this meeting, President Museveni said NRM has been provoked by undisciplined groups opposed to the proposal, hence the reaction. The meeting was also attended by 11 MPs including Peter Ogwang (Usuk), Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda South), Mwine Mpaka (Youth Western), Esther Anyakun (Nakapiripirit Woman), Andrew Kaluya (Kigulu South) and Col Fred Mwesigye (Nyabushozi).

Others were Nelson Lufafa (Butembe), Moses Angudulu (Terego West), Isaac Mulindwa Ssozi (Lugazi Municipality), Mourine Osoru (Arua Woman), Juliet Kinyamatama (Rakai Woman) plus the NRM flag bearer in the Kibanda North by-election, Taban Idi Amin.

At Seascallop restaurant in Kamwokya, Kampala, yesterday, a group of youths named Organising for Action (OFA) launched a campaign for the removal of the 75-year presidential age limit. They displayed a placard with the words, “Age limit is discrimination: Let people decide leaders of their choice.”

Earlier, at Kampala Central NRM offices on Mukwano mall, Kyaggwe road, the party’s publicity secretaries from Buganda region launched a similar campaign to popularize the removal of the presidential age limit to allow President Museveni to contest again in 2021 when he will have turned 76, and thus ineligible.

The constitution caps the upper presidential age at 75 years, standing in the way of Museveni or his supporters who wish to see him extend his rule beyond 2021 when his current term expires.

OPPOSITION PLOT

As groups within NRM fall over themselves to champion the cause, even as the official structures remain quiet, opposition groups and civil society organisations have begun to actively organise to defeat the move.

However, while NRM meetings go on unabated, Democratic Party president general Norbert Mao was yesterday arrested as he attempted to address people at the Constitution Square in Kampala about the proposed pieces of legislation on land and a presidential candidate’s age.

Mao, whose campaign against land and age limit changes is dubbed “K’ogikwatako” (Should you dare touch it), was arrested yesterday morning together with about 13 party members.

The group was attempting to access the Constitution Square to collect signatures from Ugandans in support of their cause. Mao said on his Facebook page: “Arrested for launching  campaign against land and age limit amendments. Our spirits and resolve are strong. The police should not mishandle our people who are constitutionally mandated to exercise their rights. Ugandans, join us in the struggle.”

Meanwhile, MPs opposed to the move, including some ruling party legislators, have formed a forum to campaign against both constitutional changes. The forum, similar to the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO), a grouping of young MPs that were outspoken against the 2005 lifting of presidential term limits, was formed after consultative meetings held at parliament and at a private office along Ssemawatwa road in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb.

Chaired by Butambala MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, the forum is scheduled to launch its countrywide campaign today, Friday, in Masaka. Named the Parliamentary Forum on Constitution and Human Rights, the forum’s members are working closely with some civil society groups (CSOs) as well as religious organizations.

At parliament, it is coordinated by Shadow Minister for Internal Affairs Muwanga Kivumbi and Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East).

“We have agreed to work together as different forces and it is not surprising that NRM MPs have joined [us] because people in NRM have the biggest chunks of land and are likely to be more affected by the amendment,” one of the promoters told The Observer.

Last week, government tabled a bill to amend Article 26 of Constitution, aiming to enable government to take possession of private land for infrastructure projects where the landowner rejects the compensation offered by the government valuer. The bill has since drawn bi-partisan opposition in parliament.

“The amendment on land is going to fail like it did during the CA [Constituent Assembly] and during the 6th and 7th parliaments because no MP can come out and support such a law. It is going to terribly fail,” said Opposition Chief Whip Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (Kira Municipality).

Interviewed yesterday, the minister of state for Housing Dr Chris Baryomunsi, admitted that some NRM MPs are opposed to the proposed amendment on land but added that nevertheless the government is doing everything to get it through.

“It [the amendment] is facing three challenges; it has been grossly misunderstood because they are tagging it to the amendment of the age limit, others are stubbornly misunderstanding it because of politics, while some believe that if it fails [to pass], the age limit bill will also fail,” Baryomunsi said.

Indeed lumping up of the two proposed changes is bound to cause problems for their promoters, especially with regard to NRM MPs who might be open to the age amendment idea but can’t dare face their people on the land question.

THE LAUNCH

The forum’s campaign is to be launched during two public rallies in Bukoto East and Masaka municipality today (Friday) before it is rolled out across the country.

“When any bill is tabled on the floor of the House, we are duty-bound as MPs to go and consult the public,” Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, told journalists yesterday.

“Ugandans need to know that Museveni wants to own your land as he prepares to make himself president forever,” Kiiza said.

While Kiiza insisted that the campaign they are launching in Masaka is strictly about land, several other opposition MPs told The Observer that the push to remove the presidential age limit cannot be ignored. Commenting on Museveni’s remarks to the effect that there is no age limit proposal, Kiiza said the president can’t be trusted.

“Museveni is a liar, he has lied on so many occasions and shouldn’t be taken seriously,” she said.

According to our sources, on Saturday at State House Entebbe, President Museveni is expected to meet with some lawmakers promoting the removal of the age limit.

On the same day, local government leaders have a meeting at Namboole stadium during which lifting of the age limit is likely to come up, possibly as a petition to the ruling party organs.

4 hours 56 min ago

President Museveni’s private secretary on political affairs has said he has never received instructions or permission from his boss to start a campaign rallying Ugandans to support the removal of the age limit.

David K Mafabi says that his involvement in coordinating a Tuesday meeting that resolved to support removal of the age limit from the constitution was strictly personal.

On Tuesday, Mafabi coordinated a ‘symposium of diverse members of the movement’ where they resolved to, among others, to carry consultations on “whether or not any Ugandan who is 18 years and above should be disqualified from being president.”

He says that while most people are concerned about the age limit resolution, the meeting deliberated on many issues of national importance such as creating an upper house for parliament where the wisdom of the likes of Kizza Besigye, former premier Apolo Nsibambi or Bidandi Ssali would be utilised.

“Why do Ugandans waste such people? Imagine Besigye got 3.5 million votes in the presidential elections. That alone should be automatic qualification to parliament. This debate should not be about one person, it about national cohesion,” he said.

On whether he coordinated the meeting on behalf of his boss, Mafabi said formal engagements about age limit have not commenced and would ideally be done through party and government structures. What happened at Kati Kati, he said, was an informal gathering where patriotic Ugandans pooled resources to discuss national matters.

“I am not your usual public servant. What I do is not partisan politics; what I do is the duty of a patriot,” he said. 

“Some of us are not in this thing for material benefit. I actually feel insulted when people make such suggestions; I feel very insulted. I left the world of work and joined the struggle in 1985; that is 31 years ago. So, this is not a job for me, it is a deployment in the revolution. And I want to tell you that I agree with President Museveni’s strategic [objectives]. That is why I am doing this.”

Mafabi says that the spontaneous groups spouting to push for the removal of the age limit are testimony to people’s support to President Museveni’s continued stay and strategic objectives. 

“You will see more of these come up…and I don’t think anyone is mobilising them,” he said.

Pressed further on whether they have never had a conversation about this topic given his closeness to the president, Mafabi alluded to the fact that he took the oath of allegiance and secrecy before taking office.

“The truth is that the president is not manipulating anyone; he has no hidden hand in this. The point he is making is that he is a busy man and it is not yet time to turn his attention to such matters.”

At a press briefing in State House, Entebbe, yesterday, President Museveni was asked about Mafabi’s activities and he said his man was being provoked.

Below are the resolutions of the Kati Kati meeting.

1. That it is our duty as members of NRM in our Constitution to fight propaganda detrimental to the interests of NRM (Article 9 (2) (d)), explain the achievements of NRM to the population (Article 9(2)(c)) and exercise the right to submit proposals or statements to the National Conference or National Executive Council (NEC) of the NRM (Article 9(1)(f));

2. That the leadership of the NRM urgently initiates wide consultations of its membership on land right matters, as well as urge and mobilize Ugandans to participate and cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry into land matters set up by the President of the Republic of Uganda in 2016, in order to contribute to a comprehensive national consensus Ugandans on land matters;

3. That the leadership of the NRM urgently initiates wide consultation of its membership to determine:
a). Whether or not any Ugandan who is 18 years and above, should be disqualified from being President of the Republic of Uganda;
b). Whether or not term limits should be simultaneously restored;
c). Whether or not a second Chamber of Parliament should be created;
d). Etc;

4. That the NRM widely explains the achievements of the NRM Government and reminds the population of the achievements with a pledge to further improve service delivery;

5. That the NRM reminds its members that the main objective of a political party is to compete for and acquire political power, and urge our members to work for the continued service of Ugandans as well as prepare and front our best candidates to contest for political office, in order to win their electoral mandate and maintain the NRM party in political power in 2021 and the subsequent elections;

6. That these resolution be urgently submitted to the National Chairperson of the NRM, the  Secretary General of the NRM  - for onward transmission to the National Executive Council (NEC) and Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the NRM, etc - with the aim to generate consensus,  correctly advise members of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus and in so doing provide and exercise political leadership in the country, reference Articles 11 (3)(b),(e), and 13 (4)(a) - of the NRM Constitution.

4 hours 57 min ago

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