As debate over the yet-to-be tabled proposed amendment on the presidential age limit heats up and gets caustic every other day, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire has warned groups for and against the lifting of the 75 year upper age cap for presidential candidates not to attempt to gag each other.
In a wide-ranging interview last week with The Observer at his office in Kampala, Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said the country needs to have a healthy debate on the proposal.
Maj Gen Otafiire is expected, as minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, to deliver to parliament the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, which may carry a hugely divisive proposal to remove article 102 (b) that caps the upper age of presidential candidates at 75 years.
Asked whether in his own opinion Article 102 (b) on the presidential age limit needs to be amended, he said: “You see, there is a hullabaloo about 102 (b) unnecessarily.
You will recall that only recently there was an attempt to address this article [Kafeero Ssekitoleko private member’s bill] and an NRM-dominated parliament rejected it.
It is dangerous for a democracy, for the minority or majority to try to gag the other side. Allow people to talk for the age limit. Allow people to talk against lifting the age limit. Then we either have consensus or put it to vote.”
Otafiire declined to say whether or not he supports the amendment he will bring to parliament.
Commenting on another controversial proposed amendment of Article 26 to allow government take compulsory acquisition of private land without prior compensation, Otafiire said the amendment will ensure that infrastructure projects are implemented in time.
“We are not against prior compensation, but the question is adequate compensation. How adequate is adequate? Government goes by the valuation of the government valuer.
“In case the property owner disagrees with our valuation, that stalemate should not stop public works. We are saying that in case of a stalemate, the government should put the money in a court of law, which the property owner can access if he or she wishes,” Otafiire said.
He described as ‘lumpens in leadership’ some of the local government leaders who heckled and poured water on him at Namboole stadium last week.
Otafiire had gone to Namboole to represent President Museveni at a meeting organised by the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA). The leaders said they wanted to hear from the president himself, and not a minister.
Wilfred Niwagaba is the shadow attorney general and Ndorwa East MP.
In an interview last week, he told Baker Batte Lule that all Ugandans must exert pressure on their MPs to resist the move to amend the Constitution and lift article 102 (b) on the presidential age-limit. Excerpts below.
What are your thoughts about the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017?
The Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 that has been brought to amend article 26 by adding clauses 3, 4 and 5 in my strong opinion is unconstitutional in various ways.
One, it’s unconstitutional in the sense that clauses 3, 4, and 5 contradict outright clause 2 of article 26 particularly b (i) that talks about payment of adequate and fair compensation prior to taking possession by government of land compulsorily acquired.
I’m saying this because government is now saying it does the evaluation and if you dispute the compensation because it is neither adequate nor fair, that would mean that government is unilaterally determining what is fair and adequate.
Even the taking over land before the beneficiary has received the money is unconstitutional because it means you are taking possession before compensating me yet the Constitution states that don’t take possession before you compensate.
The other article being violated in my view is 26 again because when you read 26 2(b), it says government shall bring a law to provide for how it will acquire the land but government has never brought that law.
They have all along proceeded under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act which was passed in 1965. That law, particularly section 7, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme court in a 2014 appeal between Peter Magelah and Asuman Irumba Vs Uganda National Roads Authority.
By government trying to reinstate provisions of section 7 which have been declared unconstitutional in this particular constitutional amendment is offending the provision of article 92 of the constitution which clearly states that parliament will not make a law that tends to alter a judgment or decision of court.
Now why would you say it will be unconstitutional if it is that particular article that has been amended?
Yes, it will be unconstitutional in various aspects because I have already showed you that that particular amendment doesn’t comply with the requirement of article 26 1, 2 (a, b). These particular provisions that tend to replicate section 7 offend the Constitution itself.
The minister says land will only be acquired compulsorily as provided for in article 26. If that is the case, why would anyone say government wants to steal people’s land?
The basic principle is that land belongs to the citizens and the same Constitution says, ‘yes government can compulsorily acquire land but for specific objectives, public safety, public security, public works, etc’ because article 26 (2a) is clear.
But you saw in the minister’s presentation complaints that government could not acquire land that was meant to be given to the oil companies. Are those reasons part of the reasons given under the Constitution?
Why are they hiding under this? It’s because if they were to bring the law that complies with the Constitution, they will still achieve what they want. Their sole argument is that the projects are delayed because of the people who refuse to accept the compensation.
You can still bring the law that says when the compensation has been rejected as not being fair and adequate, provide a time frame in which it can be challenged in court, provide a framework within which court must make a decision.
If there is to be an appeal process, you can still provide a timeframe within which it should be lodged. You can still provide that the appeal on this matter shall be once because it will still be legal and lawful but don’t remove the citizen’s right to own property.
What do you make of the rumored amendment to article 102 (b) to remove the presidential age limit?
It cannot be lugambo (rumour) because President Museveni has never looked at himself alive when he is not president.
His intention from the beginning is to rule until he dies no matter how he does [it]. So, there is no question of lugambo. Yes, he intends to bring an amendment to article 102; he will pretend that it’s not him but other people.
He is putting in government money to bribe whoever he wants to see it through but Ugandans who love their country and who wish to see a peaceful transfer of power must oppose with all their might and soul to stop that intended proposal to amend article 102(b).
Do you see parliament rejecting those two proposals?
Ugandans should exert pressure on their respective MPs. I know every MP would wish to retain their seat; therefore, he or she must ensure that the people’s wishes are respected.
This battle will not be fought by MPs alone but by Ugandans. That’s why I welcome all sorts of pressures that are being applied by civil society and by all Ugandans to the MPs to look at Uganda as a country more than they love Museveni.
On your part as MPs opposed to these two amendments, what are you going to do to ensure that they are not passed?
We are seeking people’s views in all sorts of fora. We will be addressing rallies countrywide; we will be appearing on various media houses, we will be calling town hall meetings, talking to religious leaders and of course we shall also be talking to our fellow MPs especially from the NRM. We want them to look at the Constitution, to look at the oath they took to defend protect and preserve the Constitution and look at Uganda with its history and get rid of the business of looking at an individual as if he is infallible.
Dr Stella Nyanzi, a Makerere University researcher, has sued the state, five months after she was stopped at Entebbe International airport, from travelling to the Netherlands.
Nyanzi was stopped on March 19, 2017 and interrogated at length by detectives over her acerbic Facebook posts against both President Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni.
In her suit filed on July 28, 2017, Nyanzi through the Center For Legal Aid (CLA), challenges government’s actions of clandestinely placing her name on a “no-fly list,” confiscating her passport on March 19 and subsequently ignoring her administrative complaint about her mistreatment at Entebbe International airport.
She asserts that such actions infringe on her fundamental human rights and freedoms protected by several articles in the Constitution.
According to Nyanzi, on March 19 at 2am, or thereabouts, immigration officers at Entebbe International airport gratuitously intercepted her while she was clearing her flight and blocked her from leaving for Amsterdam, the Netherlands via Nairobi; where she was expected to attend an international scholarly conference.
She says during the fracas her passport was confiscated at the scene by the immigration officers. Stupefied, Nyanzi said she abandoned her journey at 4:30am after her flight left.
“The applicant [Nyanzi] was embarrassed to learn from immigration officers that they were acting on information and instructions issued by the respondent’s [Attorney General] Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) banning the applicant from leaving the country allegedly because government had put her name on a no-fly list,” the suit partly reads, adding,
“The conduct of various government officials during and after the applicant’s ordeal of March 19, 2017 confirmed these allegations.”
Subsequently, Nyanzi, a harsh government social media critic, currently battling criminal charges at Buganda Road court, for allegedly referring to President Museveni as a “pair of buttocks” on Facebook, says barring her from travel abroad was done in bad faith because she was not the subject of a valid court order banning her from leaving the country.
Besides, she says she had responded to all criminal summons issued against her by the state’s law enforcement officers prior to the fateful day and she was given no indication of a travel ban.
“As a result, the applicant’s employment prospects and existing professional standing have been impaired as she cannot under prevailing circumstances fulfill any commitments involving travel abroad. The impugned blockade has not only stigmatized and cast the applicant as a fugitive attempting to escape justice in her own country but also prevented her from expanding and strengthening her international academic, political and civil society networks,” the plaint reads in part.
She says the state will continue to wantonly violate her rights and make life generally unbearable for not only her but also her loved ones, including her children.
This according to her will be done through various unlawful actions including ostracizing her, stigmatizing her, humiliating her, grounding her like a child and crippling her economically.
She wants court to issue an order directing the state to refund all the expenses she incurred during the botched trip such as: transport expenses she incurred travelling to and from Entebbe International airport and the Schengen visa fees, return air-tickets fees and accommodation booking fees.
Nyanzi wants court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the state and its agents from continuing to block her from leaving and returning to Uganda without due process.
MAJ GEN KAHINDA OTAFIIRE, a historical member of the ruling NRM and minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, is in the eye of the storm largely because he is expected to deliver to Parliament the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, which may carry a hugely divisive proposal to remove article 102 (b) that caps the upper age for presidential candidates at 75 years.
And on July 22, he was in the news for all the wrong reasons. He was doused with water by angry local government leaders gathered at Namboole stadium that refused to hear the presidential message he carried.
Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire
In a wide-ranging interview last week, Otafiire explained to Edris Kiggundu why it is important for the country to debate the yet-to-be tabled proposed amendment on the presidential age limit soberly and why he is done with the people of Ruhinda county, Mitooma district, who he represented for 20 years before they dumped him in the last election for Capt Donozio Kahonda.
Why do you think local government leaders treated you shabbily to the extent of pouring water on you?
I think it is the tendency to put lumpen elements into leadership positions. I am not surprised. First of all the way the meeting was organised was a bit weird.
Some people were seated on the ground near the track, others were underneath the pavilion then majority were in the pavilion. So, I was wondering how they were going to conduct a meeting when they are almost 200 metres apart.
It was weird. When I arrived, I requested the chairman to be allowed to deliver the president’s message and leave. The chairman obliged and asked the minister of state for Local Government to invite me. Immediately the minister of state stood up, LC-V chairpersons stood and said they had come to listen to the president, and not anybody else.
But you could see that the group protesting was organised. They had planned it. They started surging forward. I decided to leave in protest because there is no way they could insult their minister and I sit and watch that humiliation. I never said anything.
I stood up and decided to leave. As I was leaving, some gentleman who was drinking water, decided to splash it on my back. It was my escort who pointed out that somebody had splashed water on me.
I realized this fellow was looking for an incident which I decided to deny him. I told my escorts, let’s get out of here. I am told the police arrested him.
What I find interesting is the allegation that I had gone to discuss the [presidential] age limit. Certainly if I had gone to discuss the age limit, I would not have left sooner. Age limit would have required my presence and a discussion.
Don’t you think their behaviour is also an indictment on the way President Museveni has micromanaged this country? Everyone thinks it is only Museveni who can solve their problems.
There is this assumption that the president works alone which I find very interesting. Surely the president cannot interact with 38 million Ugandans, one on one.
Somehow the president must delegate responsibility as and when necessary. I am here representing the president as minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The people at Namboole were not even prepared to listen to why the president was not coming. He could have had an emergency or he could be sick.
During your tenure as minister for justice, we have seen judicial officers threatening to go on strike, we have seen prosecutors lay down their tools. You seem to have too much chaos in your backyard...
I think they were provoked by the increment in emoluments of Electoral Commission officials. Their argument is that this is a sister department within the ministry of Justice, what about us?
Do you undervalue our contribution? That is a legitimate demand. What we have been telling them is that we are aware of their plight and we are contemplating improving their emoluments but the modus operandi of doing so is a bit lengthy.
Government has decided, instead of making piecemeal increments, let’s review the whole salary structure and rationalize emoluments. I am asking my people to hold on until we have achieved this rationalization of pay, then we shall improve their conditions and terms of service.
The proposed amendment of article 26 to allow government to acquire land for infrastructure projects has attracted a lot of opposition. Is this amendment necessary?
What the population seems to have forgotten is that the provision for compulsory acquisition of land is there in the Constitution. What we are trying to change is prior compensation.
We are not against prior compensation, but the question is adequate compensation. How adequate is adequate? Government goes by the valuation of the government valuer. In case the property owner disagrees with our valuation, that stalemate should not stop public works.
We are saying that in case of a stalemate, the government should put the money in a court of law, which the property owner can access if he or she wishes. The courts of law will listen to government’s arguments and the owner’s arguments and determine what is adequate. But while the disagreement persists, the project should not stop.
Government has a poor record of paying in time. Many people who have provided services to government have died without being paid. Won’t this law make the situation worse?
Government is indefinite. If Otafiire as minister does not pay you, my successor will pay you. The property owner is not in danger of government running away. Government is continuous. It is the individuals that change.
The amendment has been opposed vehemently both by the opposition and NRM MPs especially those from Buganda. Why insist on it?
Land matters in Buganda have always been emotional and these emotions have always been evoked by some leaders.
These leaders mislead the population, they lead to agitation but normally it is a storm in a tea cup. We are only saying we want to change the principle of prior compensation in case there is a disagreement.
We don’t want to remove prior compensation in its entirety. What do MPs want? Do they want a situation where government projects stall indefinitely or where government should pay unreasonable amounts of money?
Your ministry is putting final touches on a Constitution amendment bill 2017 and it is anticipated that among the proposed articles to be amended in 102 (b) that touches on the presidential age limits. This has already kicked off a storm.
We are working on it. We are organizing to have a constitutional review commission. We are consulting. All articles can be amended. We shall bring for amendment what the population feels should be amended. We don’t take healthy people to hospital. Those articles which are not sick, which have no problem, will not be touched.
In your view, is article 102 (b) one of those that need to be taken to hospital?
You see, there is a hullabaloo about 102 (b) unnecessarily. You will recall that only recently there was an attempt to address this article [Kafeero Ssekitoleko private member’s bill] and an NRM-dominated parliament rejected it.
It is dangerous for a democracy for the minority or majority to try to gag the other side. Allow people to talk for the age limit. Allow people to talk against lifting the age limit. Then we either have consensus or put it to a vote.
Lifting the age limit now would immediately benefit President Museveni, who some say, should give way for another leader. Aren’t we being shortsighted?
I have told you it is dangerous for democracy to try to gag anybody from expressing his/her view whether minority or majority. Let people speak. Let people express themselves.
Then we shall determine the issue either by consensus, or we shall put it to a vote. I fail to understand the motive behind those saying that supporters of lifting of the age limit should not talk. Let them talk, they are Ugandans.
Tensions are already rising over this issue. Won’t the country descend into chaos?
Some people are harassing MPs. Nobody should try to gag the other. That is dangerous for democracy.
Is it not dangerous for democracy for one person to try to cling onto power after more than 31 years?
That is why there are institutions. Let us sort out the matter by debate.
As Gen Kahinda Otafiire, a historical member of NRM, which side of the debate do you fall?
I am minister for Justice and I am in charge of this process. What I want or do not want is immaterial. My job is to play my role.
Some NRM historical members have said the president no longer listens to people around him; that is why he is taking the country on a wrong path.
Are you a member of the historical group? I happen to be a member of the historicals and I am not complaining.
But people like Dr [Kizza] Besigye, Amanya Mushega have made this point before.
Col Nuwe Amanya Mushega is a member of FDC. So, if he is complaining, he is right because the president does not consult him because he no longer belongs to the NRM family.
How often does the president consult you on crucial matters?
I work for and on the behalf of the president. So, do you think he just does things arbitrarily? How can he appoint me a minister responsible for justice and not consult me?
We have seen youthful cabinet ministers come to the fore and take the limelight. People like Evelyn Anite. Yet the feeling is that these young people may fear to give the president honest advice because some cannot believe they are ministers.
Your so-called feelings are perceptions and your perceptions are not necessarily correct. Have you ever been to war? Let me tell you, the frontline soldiers are privates, not generals. Generals command.
As one of the framers of the Constitution, why didn’t you entrench article 102 (b) such that it could not easily be amended by a simple motion?
They left it at the whims of parliament. And me as the custodian of the Constitution and the law, I cannot change the law. I cannot legislate for the framers of the Constitution. That is not in my realm. The power is with parliament.
Turning to Ruhinda politics, supporters of Donozio Kahonda say you are behind his legal woes because he defeated you in 2016. They say you are using your influence as minister of Justice to sway court proceedings against him.
Kahonda is blaming me for forgery. Is he innocent? Am I the court that pronounced him guilty and sent him to prison? Did he commit a crime? He did. If he committed a crime, why doesn’t he answer for his transgressions? Is Kahonda the first MP to go to jail? You remember Godi [Akbar] was convicted for murder.
[Mubarak] Munyagwa was in jail. Jim Muhwezi was arrested when he was a member of parliament. [Mike] Mukula was arrested. So, what is so special about Kahonda? If I had put him under preventive detention, you would say this man has locked up an innocent person. I am not the complainant.
But your supporters and known mobilisers are some of the complainants in the case?
My supporters and mobilisers, if they complain it is because he is their MP. So, if they complain about the character of their leader, do they have a legitimate concern?
Why do you want to condemn the people of Ruhinda to the leadership of a crook? What crime have the people of Ruhinda committed that they should be led by a crook? They could have voted for him when they did not know. Now that they know!!
Some say his imprisonment will benefit you because if eventually he serves a long jail term, there will be a by-election and you will stand.
I am not involved in Kahonda’s troubles. I do not intend to go back to Ruhinda. I have clearly told the people that I am finished with them and I am not going back whatever the circumstances.
You appear upset by the people’s decision to elect another person who was in prison during primaries and the general election.
After what I have done for these people, if they don’t appreciate my work, I don’t think there is anything I can do to endear myself to them. They need me and I don’t need them.
Aren’t you being arrogant?
No. They need me for development purposes and I do not need them. I have said it before, I am saying it now. After what I have done for them, if they don’t appreciate, then enough is enough.
May be there is something you did that annoyed them.
I don’t think so. They were just excited about change.
What kind of legacy would you want to leave behind as Gen Otafiire?
I want to be remembered as a man who fought for democracy, peace, unity and prosperity. That is what I fought for.
My conscious advice is: let everybody be calm and live and let live. Let’s resolve the discussion [about age limit] by reasoning, not emotions.
To counter the widening opposition campaigns aimed at defeating the recently tabled Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 on compulsory acquisition of private land by government, cabinet has asked the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to come up with a bold counter strategy to address misconceptions.
According to the minister for ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, government is keenly following the messages being delivered by the opposition at campaign rallies and on radios and will soon launch its own campaign to popularise the amendment.
Using the proposed amendment to Article 26, government wants to take compulsory possession of private land for infrastructure projects without prior compensation of the land owners. It argues that the prior compensation clause stalls government projects.
“We have asked the mother ministry [Lands] to draw up a strategy for us to counter their messages. Their [opposition messages] are largely built around propaganda; we are going to counter them with facts,” Tumwebaze told The Observer on July 27.
ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze
On July 13, deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana tabled the Constitution Amendment bill, which seeks to amend Article 26 and give government unfettered access to private land.
The draft legislation is tailored to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of government infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising from the land acquisition process.
The bill drew bi-partisan opposition with some MPs arguing that the spirit of the amendment is intended to defeat the provision of Article 26(b)(i), which requires government to make prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to taking possession or acquisition of the property.
For two weeks now, the opposition has held campaign rallies against the proposed amendment.
The campaign launch was in Masaka district. And so far the campaigners have been to rallies in Kampala and Wakiso and have spoken loudly on radio talk shows and social media.
Opposition efforts have been complimented by their NRM colleagues who are actively campaigning against the land amendment on different social media platforms.
Using various WhatsApp groups, NRM legislators are circulating messages warning against the bill.
One such message ends with a hashtag, #MyLandMyLife borrowed from former FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye’s campaign against land grabbing, which reads:
“The proposal, if passed [God forbid] will allow government to compulsorily take over your land before prompt, adequate compensation and before an opportunity to challenge it in court. In other words, they will take over your land, offer you their valuation of its value, if you disputed it, they will deposit their assessment of the price of your land in court, while you challenge the same in court.
“It means if the land is your only source of livelihood, you will be forced to leave it without a proposed place to go to, and without compensation. You and your families, including graves of your forefathers and mothers, if any, will be forced out.
You will find a place to go, many times to nowhere. In the alternative, and because you will have been rendered destitute, you may be forced/compelled to take even a low compensation just to survive.
“The law violates fair hearing provisions, reduces a dispute over your land to a monetary compensation only and whittles judicial independence by removing a possibility of a plaintiff winning a case and reversing a takeover of his or her land.
It is an insidious and toxic amendment that will plunge the country into chaos, poverty and instability.
“There are options government can take, other than amending the constitution that can resolve what is an apparent problem of delayed compensation.
1. Expedite the land dispute resolution mechanisms. This will resolve the problem of delayed land utilization arising from protracted litigation and disputes around ownership and land compensation. This is because even other citizens are suffering the same problem government claims to be suffering.
“2. Related to (1) above, there are matters considered urgent and thus the law provides for their expeditious disposal by the courts. These include election petitions, constitutional cases, matters relating to children etc.
“The same can be extended to large government projects requiring the courts to hear them expeditiously. This will protect land owners against arbitrary and illegal actions of governments and their agents.
“3. Reform the land administration system to return land survey in the hands of public office other than private surveyors, review the method of value assessment from the current government valuation to bring it into conformity with market rates.
“4. Revisit the roles of district land boards, government valuer and clamp down on speculative buyers and internal fraud in the land sector.
“Say no to the constitutional amendment bill that seeks to amend Article 26 of the constitution.”
According to the state minister for Housing Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the ministry of Lands is planning a multi-pronged approach to counter the campaign.
Its strategy involves public meetings across the country in addition to a media campaign that will see them place adverts in the print media and on TVs and radios to explain some of the misconceptions about the bill.
According to Baryomunsi, the amendment has been grossly misunderstood due to politics.
“What the proposal is saying is that when a value has been attached to your land or property and there is a disagreement on the value between the government and the owner, then government should be allowed to take that payment promptly to courts of law and then continue with the project but then the owner still has a right to continue negotiations or mediation or arbitration or even seek court redress so that his concerns are addressed,” Baryomunsi said.
The Kinkiizi East MP said one misconception being peddled is that government is introducing a new idea on land ownership.
“There is a public misunderstanding, some people think [that] government is introducing compulsory acquisition of land but it is already there in the Constitution; the only change is that we put a provision that facilitates government to quickly undertake projects without unnecessary delays but also guarantee the right of the owner of the land to negotiate or even sue for better values that are attached to that land,” Baryomunsi said.
“This amendment is not a creation of NRM, it is already there in the old laws like the Land Acquisition Act of 1965, and was redrafted in the Constitution. Some countries have put land in the hands of the state in order to facilitate development. In our situation, land belongs to individuals and the government has to be enabled to do work which benefits everybody,” Baryomunsi added.
KAMPALA- A supporter of new Kyadondo East MP Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, who says police injured his testicles and penis, has sued government.
Mr Sande Patrick Byamukama is seeking compensation from government.
He contends that on June 29 when the Electoral Commission held parliamentary by-elections in Kyadondo East, he was assaulted by three police officers at Kasangati Polling Station. He says one of the officers grabbed his wallet containing Shs105,000.
Mr Byamukama says he held grip of one of the policemen demanding that he returns his wallet and mobile phone.
“The other two policemen dragged me to a room in the nearby bar/guest house called Resort. The police barred the press and the public from accessing the room,” Mr Byamukama states in the suit file.
“While in the room, one policeman started strangling me as another was beating and kicking me all over my body and the third pulled my testicles so hard that blood started oozing through my penis,” the suit further states.
Further in his suit, Byamukama contends that he was thrown onto a patrol truck and driven to Kasangati Police Station before being transferred to Kira Police Station where he spent five days in custody without food.
“At Kira Police Station, I was passing blood in stool and in urine.
I was never given any treatment and I was never allowed visitation by my wife and relatives until Monday July 3 when I was released on police bond,” the petitioner says.
Byamukama is represented by Rwakafuuzi & Co Advocates.
Besides compensation for damages, Mr Byamukama is seeking court to declare that his arrest by police violated his right to liberty under Article 23 of the Constitution.
He also wants court to declare that the violent grabbing and takeaway of his wallet and Smartphone was a violation of his constitutional right to property in Article 26 (1) of the Constitution.
By close of court business yesterday, the Attorney General had not filed the government’s defence against the suit. The hearing date had not been fixed either.
MUKONO- Mr Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesman who had received an in-calf cow under the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme, has returned it following protests by some Mukono District councillors.
The councillors led by Mr Davis Lukyamuzi, a councillor representing Nagojje Sub- county, on Monday attacked officials in charge of OWC, accusing them of giving cows to financially stable individuals in the district like Mr Opondo, yet the project was designed to lift the poor from poverty.
“The cows were given to rich people and influential ones who have the capacity to buy their own animals; leaving out needy people like widows and people with disabilities,” Mr Lukyamuzi said.
According to the distribution list, Mr Opondo, Hajj Haruna Semakula, the Mukono District National Resistance Movement vice chairperson, Mr David Kironde Kibugujju, the Mukono District Veterans chairperson and other politicians benefited from the 42 in-calf cows that were distributed in the area, on Monday.
Mr Opondo, said on Wednesday that it was his wife who applied for the cow, but since councillors had raised a lot of ‘noise,’ he chose to return the cow.
“Although this cow was requested by my wife, I have decided to return it following a lot of hullaballoo from the public and councillors, after all she already has two cows she is taking care of,” Mr Opondo said while handing over the animal to a one Ms Florence Nakachwa, a resident of Ntawo Village in Mukono Municipality and Mr Robert Ssempebwa, a Mukono Town agent, at Mukono District headquarters. OWC officials were absent.
Dr Fred Mukulu, the district production officer said the cows were given to people who have the capacity to look after them “very well.”
Many people in different parts of the country have previously complained about the method used to distribute cows under OWC programme.
They say, only “wealthy” people and politicians are given the animals leaving the primary target-poor people – sharing seeds of various cereals like maize and seedlings of various plants like oranges and mangoes.
Ms Sarah Kagingo, the OWC spokesperson, recently clarified that all people regardless of their social or political status in community are eligible to receive cows provided they are vetted by district leaders.
Supporters of the ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) yesterday held a peaceful procession in Lira town expressing support for the removal of the presidential age limit.
About 20 NRM supporters, mostly women, marched from Lira district headquarters – about 20 meters away from Lira Central Police Station on Wednesday through Olwol road, Oyite Ojok lane then Obote Avenue up to Lira Bus Park led by Moses Opio, the former Lira district NRM chairperson.
They held placards calling for the amendment of Article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution, which puts a ceiling on the age of the person holding the Office of the President at 75 years.
"General YK Museveni Paka last" [General YK Museveni forever], read one of the placards. "We support the removal of term limit," read another.
Opio said they came out to express their support on behalf of a bigger section of NRM supporters in Kampala, who have mooted plans to amend Article 102(b) of the Constitution. According to Opio, they want the age limit lifted so as to allow Museveni to contest for another term in 2021.
Under, the current provision in Article 102(b), Museveni would be above 75 years and ineligible to contest for the seat in 2021. Born in 1944, Museveni will be clocking 77 in 2021.
Patrick Okwir Kampala, one of the NRM party mobilisers who also participated in the procession, says they want Museveni to continue with his leadership to consolidate the prevailing peace and improve the social economic status of Uganda.
But Joel Otema, a human rights and political activist described the group as ‘attention seekers’ who are looking for personal gains from Museveni.
Otema says unless under a certain spell of witchcraft, no single person in Lango sub-region can jump out of their home to express support for the extension of Museveni's stay in power.
Otema says Lango sub-region, which is riddled with poverty and unemployment, can never welcome and appreciate any attempts to extend Museveni's leadership beyond 35 years (after 2021).
Morris Chris Ongom, another human right activist wonders why the group would waste their time to hold a procession he described as “useless” instead of taking advantage of the prevailing rains to cultivate their gardens.
Dan Okello, the Uganda People's Congress party chairperson, faulted police for allowing the procession he described as unlawful. He wondered why police would allow the NRM to lead the procession without any interruption, yet opposition politicians are always picked and locked up whenever they dare do the same.
He accused the police force of being partisan, a thing he says Ugandans shouldn't tolerate. David Ongom Mudong, the North Region Police spokesperson, confirmed that the NRM supporters didn't notify police about their procession. He however, couldn't explain why police didn't break up the procession just like it has done to those organised by opposition supporters.
Although government is yet to table the proposal for the removal of the presidential age limit, speculation is high that government could smuggle the proposal during ongoing discussions on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Gen Kahinda Otafiire has been named in the irregular transfer of a government building to a suspected land grabber.
Otafiire while serving as minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry allegedly initiated the idea of granting a letter of no objection to Birus Properties, a company owned by Simpson Birungi, the Proprietor of Movit Products Ltd.
Birungi used the letter to apply for a lease on plot 60/62 Alidina road in Jinja municipality and to process titles for the same land. The alleged clearance and directive by Otafiire is said to have facilitated the land grabbing and later demolition of buildings despite interventions by the Privatization Unit and the Inspectorate of Government (IG).
The building was one of the 27 properties under direct control of the Privatization Unit then mandated with the management or divestiture of properties formerly under the African Trade Development Fund (ATDF).
The Education Service Commission under secretary, Emmanuel Orum, who served in the trade ministry during the time of the transaction, told the on-going Lands Probe Commission that; Otafiire first communicated the decision to Ambassador Julius Onen, the then permanent secretary in the ministry of Trade.
Orum told the Commission that Ambassador Onen asked him to carry out due diligence on the request by Birus Properties for a certificate of no objection for takeover of plot 60/62 Alidina Road in Jinja.
He added that he was driven by an agent of Birus Properties to Jinja to carry out the purported due diligence on May 12, 2011. But he declined to name the agent who drove him to and back from Jinja for the due diligence as directed by Ambassador Onen and instead asked to reveal the person in camera for fear of persecution.
Orum said that a meeting held by Beswale Kezaala, the former mayor of Jinja municipality, RDC Richard Gulume, the Town Clerk and two councilors reportedly gave no objection to the application by Birus Properties to take over the property.
But the lead counsel of the Land Probe Commission, Ebert Byenkya faulted Orum for failing to carry out due diligence as directed by Ambassador Onen. He noted that although Orum traveled to Jinja, he failed to consult the sitting tenants mainly, traders and returned from Jinja without ascertaining whether the sitting tenants had consented to the eviction and eventual demolition of the building.
But Orum said that a decision had already been taken by the minister and permanent secretary to have Birus cleared to take over the building. He said the two, who were his seniors in the ministry, made Orum to sign and grant a letter of no objection to Birus Properties in the afternoon of January 13, 2011.
"He [minister] had made up his mind that the property belongs to his political stewardship, therefore it was a directive to us", Orum said.
The Commission established that Orum did not only stop at writing the first letter of no objection to Birus Properties, but was also asked by the agent of Birus properties to write another letter to clear the minister.
"When I wrote the first one, three weeks after; the same person comes and says am not happy with the language you have used here. Why don’t you remove the name ‘minister’ and the word ‘Otafiire’? Then, I asked him that has he complained, and he said; ‘no but I don’t think you should write it like that. Just say that we’ve granted’. Then I told him that; 'you know these things of lands, they keep on reoccurring, supposing in future something happens?
I want somebody who will read this letter in future to know that I was acting on the pressure from somewhere and I did not have any peculiar interest in it'. And that is how I wrote that letter and now it has come to exonerate me. If I had written as ‘we have given him land’, no body would know that there was pressure on me to write or to write that no objection in the way I wrote. So the letter itself gives a point of reference", Orum submitted.
The Commission heard that the Inspectorate of Government investigated the matter and found that the ministry of Trade had no authority over the property. The Commissioner for Land Registration, Sarah Kulata cancelled the title in December 2014 but the Commission established that, Birungi assisted by a senior police officer, proceeded to evict the tenants and demolished the building in January 2015.
Birus Properties managing director, Simpson Birungi who has since constructed a storied building on the disputed land is yet to testify on the matter. Minister Otafiire is yet to be summoned to the commission to give his side of the story. This is the second complaint against the minister in relation to suspicious land transactions during his tenure as minister of Tourism, Trade, and Industry.
He was in 2010 accused of authorizing the irregular sale of ministry of Local Government stores to an investor claiming that it posed a security threat. The accusations were made by the then ministry of Local Government permanent secretary, Muhanguzi Kashaka during the Public Accounts Committee hearing.
The Auditor General's report of June 2008 had questioned the sale of Plot No. 133 Sixth Street, Industrial Area to a private investor.
Court in Nakawa has adjourned a case in which, 22 men are accused of murdering former police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his body guard and the driver.
The suspects appeared before the Nakawa Grade One magistrate, Noah Ssajjabi this morning. They include among others Abdu Rashid Mbazira, Buyondo Mohammed, Higenyi Aramazan Noor Din, Mugerwa Yusuf aka Wilson, Bruhan Balyejusa, Maganda Umar Aramathan, Ahamada Senfuka Shaban, Hassan Tumusiime, Ibrahim Kiisa, Osman Mohammed Omarete, Magambo Hamidu, Abdu Majid Ojerere, Kyambadde Joshua Magezi and Musa Ntende Abubaker.
The suspects in court earlier
They are charged with three counts of terrorism, murder and aggravated robbery. Ssajjabi adjourned the case to August 9 after the state prosecutor;,Rachael Nabwire told court that investigations were still ongoing.
This is the second time court is adjourning the matter. On July 13, 2017, Ssajjabi adjourned the case citing the prosecutor's strike.
The late Andrew Felix Kaweesi was gunned down together with his body guard Kenneth Erau and driver, Godfrey Wambewo on March 17 in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb.