Police’s handling of a weekend meeting in Mityana District has taken new twists, with Buganda Kingdom loyalists and leaders expressing outrage, the force’s administration offering apologies and an October 20 protest being some of the major reactions to the incident.
Members of the Mbogo clan had gathered to thank God for the milestones achieved by their clan head Gajuule Kasibante in the service of the Kingdom.
Their meeting was at the clan’s ancestral ground at Mugulu in Ziggoti Town Council in Singo in a thanksgiving service for their clan head, Gajuule Kayiira Kasibante.
Recently, Buganda monarch Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II picked Omutaka Namwama Augustine Nsereko to replace Kasibante as head of the Kingdom’s 52 clans.
Kasibante had held the position for seven years.
But at the weekend celebration, tear gas disrupted the thanksgiving service that retired Masaka Diocese Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa was leading.
While the participants say that police had besieged the meeting place, teargassed and ordered them to go home, declaring their meeting illegal, local police officials claimed the tear gas had been fired at a nearby place to disperse rowdy youths but had been carried by the wind to the clan meeting’s venue.
Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga expressed his disappointment with police for interruption a cultural event.
He called on security agencies to respect cultural institutions like Buganda.
“There are so many members of the Mbogo clan with different political affiliations and aspirations, who belong to different religions but are united under the Mbogo clan,” he said in a statement.
“We condemn acts of blocking people from gathering and sharing with their clan leaders.”
Police both in Mityana and at the national level have apologized to Buganda Kingdom and retired Bishop Kaggwa over the incident.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga noted that the disruption of the event was not deliberate.
“We fired teargas which spread to the venue where the bishop was holding the mass. It was not intentional. We apologise to all those directly affected by the teargas including the Catholic Church, the bishop and members of the Mbogo clan,” Enanga said.
Police chief IGP Martins Okoth Ochola also sent a delegation to Bishop Emeritus Kaggwa’s home in Masaka to deliver the force’s apologies “over the disruptions caused during the thanksgiving ceremony.”
“The IGP carried out a thorough review and evaluation of the incident, and acknowledges the operational lapse which led to the use of teargas that spread and impacted on the congregation and the public,” said Police Political Commissar AIGP Asan Kasingye, who headed Ochola’s delegation to Masaka.
On October 20, protesters stormed Buganda Kingdom headquarters at Bulange Mengo to deliver a petition to Katikkiro Mayiga.
The protestors included members of Nkobazambogo, including the association’s former chairperson Hakim Saula; and politicians such as Kawempe Division Mayor Emmanuel Sserunjoji, Councilor Muhammad Ssegirinya, Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Naggayi Sempala, and former Nansana Municipality MP Wakayima Musoke.
Police arrested but later released some of the protestors.
At Bulange, the protesters refused security personnel’s orders to pick only five representatives to meet Mayiga.
After singing the Buganda Anthem, the Katikkiro ordered the security officers to allow all the protesters in.
Saula read the group’s petition to Mayiga, who denied claims that he had failed to champion the glory of Buganda Kingdom.
Both the Katikkiro and the protesters agreed on piling more pressure on the police and the army to prosecute officers involved in the Mityana incident.
Elsewhere, protests also took place in Mityana where police was involved in running battles with disgruntled youth who were demanding the unconditional release of the motorcycles.
The motorcycles were confiscated during an operation that happened near the venue of the Mbogo clan meeting.
Police fired tear gas and running battles to disperse the protesters.
Before their protest was quelled, the youths accused Mityana District Police Commander (DPC) Alex Mukono Mwine as one of the officers who should face prosecution for the weekend incident.
KADAGA SUMMONS MINISTER ODONGO
On October 20, Mityana Municipality MP Francis Butebi Zaake raised the thanksgiving service’s disruption as a matter of national importance.
MP Zaake told plenary that the participants at the meeting had observed all standard operating procedures as advised by the health ministry in the fight against the spread of Covid19.
But police spokesperson Enanga blamed politicians like Zaake and Busujju County MP David Kalwanga who fueled several bodabodas to accompany them to the cultural event.
Zaake also urged parliament to condemn the acts of police and push for DPC Mwine’s suspension. Zaake accuses Mwine of engaging in several acts of human rights violation.
In the end, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga summoned Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odongo to submit a statement on the matter.