Parliament business last afternoon came to a standstill, as opposition MPs walked out in protest over the manner in which their colleagues, Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North-NUP) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West-NUP) were rearrested after courts of law granted them bail.
The duo, accused of masterminding the recent spate of murders that rocked the greater Masaka area leaving 26 people dead and alleged engagement in terrorism, were between September 24 and 27, 2021, rearrested by security operatives under unclear circumstances.
The MPs led by the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, shortly before walking out, said that their colleagues were not only, “illegally kidnapped,” but have also been kept in ungazetted places where they don’t have access to their families, lawyers and doctors.
During the plenary session chaired by Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, Mpuuga demanded to know whether his office was aware of the wellbeing and whereabouts of his members.
“I would like to know whether the Office of the Speaker was notified about the rearrest of Hon. Ssegirinya and Hon. Ssewanyana. Because it’s unfair for Parliament to conduct business normally yet some of its members are under unclear arrest,” Mpuuga said.
The Lwemiyaga County MP-NRM, Theodore Sekikuubo then rose on a matter of National importance saying he doesn’t subscribe to NUP but that they deserve their rights as Ugandans and criticized the UPDF representatives for not being helpful on the matter.
“Members of the UPDF are just seated and very quiet and are not helping the situation yet they are supposed to sit, watch and help the country. The Government should put a position as to why the government is resorting to kidnapping its own people,” he said.
Oulanyah in his response said his office was never notified by the police on the arrest of the two MPs and also demanded to know the circumstances under which the two MPs were rearrested.
The speaker, not convinced with the statement by the State Minister for Trade, David Bahati to have a statement on the matter provided to the House the following day, suspended the House for 15 minutes to allow the Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa and Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Kahinda Otaffire come up with a clear explanation.
Upon resumption of the House, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja confirmed the rearrest of the MPs and that Ssewanyana who was arrested first had been interrogated and recorded a statement in the presence of his lawyers.
She said Ssegirinya who was arrested yesterday would also be interrogated and a statement taken in the presence of his lawyers.
The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, explained that the matter was being handled in accordance with law and that the two MPs would be presented to court.
He went further to state that the MPs can be rearrested as many times as the offences they commit, a statement that sparked outrage from the members present especially those of the Opposition which prompted the leader of Opposition to withdraw his team from the opposition side from the chambers of Parliament.
Mpuuga described the statement as shocking, disturbing, and legally scandalous and that he and his team would not be a part of the unlawful manner in which the situation is being handled.
The Speaker agreed and strongly expressed his displeasure with the manner in which technical personnel in government implement directives by flouting the rules.
“Can we just do things right? The biggest problem is the technical people who rush to implement, what is the emergency? “Oulanya wondered.
He commended the Leader of Opposition for expressing his displeasure on the matter and the manner in which he peacefully led members of his team out of Parliament.
Photo Credit: Parliament Press