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Home > News > Opposition MPs Protest Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Re-arrest, Force Oulanyah To Adjourn Plenary Sitting

Opposition MPs Protest Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Re-arrest, Force Oulanyah To Adjourn Plenary Sitting

Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah (pictured) was today forced to unceremoniously adjourn plenary sitting after the Opposition walked out of Parliament in protest of the rearrest of MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) by security forces.

The two MPs had managed to fulfill stringent bail terms set by Masaka High Court, only for the security forces to ‘kidnap’ them in the guise that they had other charges to respond to.

The actions of the security forces angered the Opposition with their Leader in Parliament, Mathia Mpuuga leading the protest by demanding the Speaker to explain if his office had been briefed about the pending re-arrest as Government had done in the earlier time before their arrest to answer to charges of terrorism related to the rampant killings in Greater Masaka.

Mpuuga remarked, “I am seeking your clearance whether the Speaker was notified of this abduction. Ssewanyana hasn’t been produced in any court and we are here legislating when the state is violating right of our own. The world is watching us behaving as if it is normal going through these brutal actions casting these MPs as criminals.”

He added that the Opposition wasn’t ready to conduct Parliament business until a clear explanation is given on the whereabouts of the two legislators noting, “Without state explaining what is going on we are constrained in participating with state in violating rights of our colleagues. Let the state explain the situation because we are constrained as if it is normal business, relatives, lawyers can’t access them. I am asking whether it is normal for us to proceed and therefore we should sit or you have been briefed as the first case was about these.”

Speaker Oulanyah responded saying it isn’t normal for the MPs to be rearrested without first notifying the Speaker as stipulated in the law and denied receiving such a notification.

“It is abnormal and the best person to explain that can’t be me because I didn’t participate in any of them. In the case we are talking about re-arrest of MPs, certainly the warrant didn’t come up in writing,” said the Speaker.

It was at that moment that Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality) swiftly moved a motion asking to have Speaker suspend the plenary sitting until Government explains the whereabouts of the two legislators.

He said that a similar scenario happened in the 10th Parliament after the arrest of former Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi and he was treated the same way Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana are being treated.

Relying on Rule 59 of Parliament’s Rules of procedures, Ssemujju said, “This parliament postponed sitting until our colleagues who were kidnapped by people dressed as thugs are released. This parliament to suspend sitting until our colleagues were by people who were dressed like things. It has happened before.”

However, Oulanyah quashed Ssemujju’s motion saying the motion he had moved was of significant magnitude and therefore had to notify the Speaker instead of ambushing him.

“For the orderly conduct of business, a motion of such significance may not be without notice, but at least you brief the Speaker so that we know how to process it, because you can’t surprise the Speaker. The law doesn’t allow you to do that,” said Oulanyah.

Despite the Speaker ruling Ssemujju’s motion as null and void, it didn’t stop Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County) from backing the motion describing as regretful for Parliament to proceed with business when some of the MPs had been kidnapped, yet all MPs swore to protect the constitution.

Ssekikubo argued that the presumption of innocence is cardinal in Uganda’s criminal procedure systems, adding that Parliament deserves a clear explanation on what is happening to the MPs, so the other MPs can come out with a straight face and face the country.

“Otherwise, all of us are tainted, it is as if we are in a conspiracy and for one I must say, I am not part of the conspiracy. I want government to take a position on why the government of the people is resorting to kidnapping its own people, it is terrible, it is unexplainable, you can’t explain it, you can’t justify it,” said Ssekikubo.

Oulanyah was forced to adjourn the sitting for fifteen minutes, to allow Government to assemble its team to defend the scandalous kidnap of MPs, but he didn’t fall short of doing what he deos best, giving a verbal artillery on how Government had handled the matter.

The Speaker wondered why Government didn’t notify his office as the State had done with the first summons, and demanded to know the circumstances under which the MPs were re-arrested and where they are being held.

He said, “It wasn’t within my knowledge and neither was it under my authorization or notification that the members are re-arrested. That wasn’t done and it is irregular under the law. I need to know the reasons they were arrested, I need to know where they are being kept and I need to know why they are being kept. It couldn’t be for the same reasons that bail was granted, I just need to know, can somebody give me that information because I need to know.”

David Bahati, State Minister for Industries moved to save face asking for time to allow the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kahinda Otafire to brief Parliament.  

Oulanyah called for calm within the Opposition saying that when things are really tough, they need to keep calm, as they reflect on their next cause of action, adding that just because the State hasn’t already made a mistake, we shouldn’t make a mistake.

“I think we would be best placed to articulate issues and send a clear message that this should never be done, this shouldn’t be done when we are here. We need to face this thing with some level of calmness. Until we get clear explanation with the questions I have posed, we won’t be able to proceed with business,” said Oulanyah.

When plenary resumed, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja confirmed that the two MPs are in custody of State, saying that Ssewanyana had made a statement and was interrogated at Kireka in the presence of his lawyers and Ssegirinya was set to be interrogated too.

But her statement was quashed by Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju County) saying when Ssegirinya was being kidnapped and he was crying that he is sick and he was being bungled into the vehicle and asked whether he had access to medical attention.

Ssekikubo then asked Nabbanja to inform Parliament what prompted government to conduct kidnap, the MPs, “What was strange this time around that it was imperative to kidnap MPs. These MPs presented themselves to Masaka and still went back to respond to their own. Have you found the office of Speaker deficient that you are taking over roles of Speaker?

It was Attorney General, Kiwanuka Kiryowa who angered the Opposition when he admitted it was erroneous not to notify speaker but added that the said MPs will continue to be arrested, “Indeed they have been arrested and everything is being done according to the law, it was an error not to come to you. The two colleagues are going to be presented in court and they can go back as many times as the offences they commit,” said Kiryowa.

His remarks angered Mpuuga, who described Kiryowa’s statement as disturbing before he admitted he had fallen short of leading the opposition, before he announced the opposition was walking out in protest.

The LOP said, “On my side, I am constrained, the Attorney General is being legally scandalous. In the circumstance, I would like to join you for not joining illegality. In this circumstance, I am constrained at leading my team because you are milking the tooth from the front bench. I am afraid I am out of this house because the leader of business has no business to communicate to my side. The rights of citizens are being abused, the Attorney General believes he has discretion. I have no choice but withdraw my team from this vulgar debate.”

After the Opposition walked out, Oulanyah bashed the technical servants for always throwing Government in bad light for continuously breaking the law while carrying out directives from the executive.

“What is the emergency, because when you do we end up like this. You just do things right. Just follow the way and we shall be safe, it costs nothing doing the right thing at the right time and within the law,” said Oulanyah.

Prime Minister Nabbanja admitted defeat and revealed Government would hold a meeting, “We have seen what has happened and we are going to have all those MDAs together and we look for the way forward.” Speaker then adjourned the house.  

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