On the 18th of November this year, the police arrested Presidential contender Hon. Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine in Luuka where he had planned to continue his campaign trail that day. He was accused of conduct that would lead to the spread of a deadly disease, a crime created by the Public Health Act.
What followed his arrest would cost over fifty Ugandan lives at the hands of merciless unprompted shootings at people. Truly, shooting recklessly at people was unprompted. One holding a gun cannot claim to have been threatened by another armed with a stone. Discharging the firearm in such a situation amounts to disproportional force.
The police alleged that Kyagulanyi was failing to observe and adhere to the SOPs that were issued by the Ministry of Health. Nonetheless, it was not made clear whether the police would act against similar violations in other camps, especially the NRM camp.
It was clear, however, that it seemed not to matter if one was observing the SOPs in a harmonised campaign programme. Police would interfere with any opposition candidate at the slightest cause they could fancy.
After his release, Bobi Wine tried to incorporate using media to reach out to voters. He would pay to book a time slot with a station or channel yet, he would hardly be allowed by police personnel to utilise the platform. A radio station reported that Bobi Wine had, for a third time, been interfered with by Police after following the right procedures to book air-time with them.
This was not new! Before he had started mass rallies, Bobi Wine had, on numerous occasions, attempted to use media as a platform for his campaign. This campaign method was often frustrated by police personnel who sought to block him from accessing the media premises.
The same was encountered with a blockade of police and army personnel at a Hotel in which he had booked rooms for accommodating his team. Whatever, the cause of this blockade was, it never became public knowledge. The public were reminded of the 2018 Arua saga.
Aside from Bobi Wine whose campaign trail and activities have dominated the national political stage, Amuriat has faced similar challenges with the police force. He was also arrested for police allegations similar to those trumped up against Kyagulanyi.
All this queer conduct of business by police solicited comments from the EC, a body that has often distanced itself from such executive decisions. In a letter to IGP Okoth Ochola, the EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama reminded the police boss of the candidates’ rights during this campaign period.
The EC mentioned complaints from the Presidential candidates and media coverage of the Police blocking candidates from accessing venues. The police was reminded not to intervene with candidates that followed the harmonised campaign programme. Justice Byabakama also reminded the IGP of the a copy of the harmonised campaign programme schedule that must have been received by Uganda Police because the same was duly forwarded.
Further, it was made known to the IGP that the police has a duty to ensure that the electoral activity takes place in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law and guidelines. He was also urged to ensure the smooth actualization of the electoral process. Simply, he, or at least the force he commands, must drop the illiterate and ignorant based modus operandi. It must not be an agent of aggravation!
The police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, duly notified the EC that the letter was received and taken under advisement. For matters of clarity, that is how polite people say ‘Mind your bloody business’!
Truly, the police will still brutalise the public at any opportunity that avails itself. Of course, they will create justifications for it, with the help of the President. A murderous government will rarely fail to rationalise brutality. In those very rare circumstances where all logic fails and police actions cannot be rationalised, we can count on Fred Enanga to argue an apology!
- Joel Kenneth Ndawula is a Student of Law at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi. He is an inspired writer, the editor and author here; a blogger of sorts.
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