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Weekly roundup: Public angry over Magara’s murder, death of veteran journalist Cheeye and Makerere sex scandal

Gen Henry Tumukunde lays a wreath on Suzan Magara’s casket at the burial in Hoima on Thursday.

The kidnap and eventual murder of Susan Magara, a 28-year-old cashier in her father’s business, was this week’s headline breaker, with the public once again angry with police for failing to track down the killers.

The public’s attention was drawn to the fact that in the four weeks of Magara’s kidnap, the kidnappers kept calling her family members on a weekly basis and yet police was unable to track them down.

She was kidnapped on February 7 from Kabaka Anjagala Road in Rubaga Division, Kampala and her body discovered dumped at Kitiko, between Kigo and Kajjansi near the Entebbe Expressway early this week.

Another intriguing moment is that she was killed despite her father paying the Shs700m ransom money demanded by kidnappers. Magara’s father was forced to raise the money after the kidnappers sent him a video, which showed them chopping off his daughter’s fingers and threatening to kill her if they did not raise the $1 million (about Shs3.6 billion) ransom, which was later reduced to Shs700m, following negotiations.

Susan’s murder prompted Cabinet to direct ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze to investigate the presence of many unregistered SIM cards that are being used by criminals in the rising spate of kidnappings that have engulfed the country.

This came after it was revealed that Susan’s kidnappers had used 17 SIM Cards registered under forged identities.

Agaba in hospital after being attacked by armed robbers at her shop in Bweyogerere on Thursday.

As Magara was being laid to rest in Hoima District, Police on Thursday afternoon shot dead two armed thugs after they attempted to rob a businesswoman in broad daylight in Bweyogerere, a suburb in Wakiso District.

According to eye witness statements recorded at police, the armed robbers, who were riding on a boda boda, attacked the owner of Wabiyoona Plaza in her office. She had reportedly withdrawn money from the bank in order to pay off her workers their monthly salaries.

It is said the robbers tried to grab her bag containing the money. However, she resisted, prompting them to stab her in the neck and grab the money.

It is said the businesswoman screamed for help, attracting the attention of residents. It is said that a VIP escort car in the vicinity at the time scared the robbers and as they tried to flee, they fired in the air, attracting police, which shot them dead as they fled.

The dark week was further compounded by the death of veteran journalist Teddy Seezi Cheeye on March 1 after he was knocked by a boda boda cyclist as he crossed Jinja Road in Nakawa.

Cheeye had spent one year out of Luzira Prison, where he had spent eight years over corruption related cases.

Different speakers at the Requiem Mass at Our Lady Church Mbuya, called on government to launch investigations into the death of the former Internal Security Organisation director of economic monitoring.

The former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Philip Wafula Oguttu, was among the mourners present at the Requiem Mass who said they were not convinced that the motorcycle hit his long-time friend, Cheeye.

Meanwhile, Makerere University was back in the news for the wrong reasons. The university was once against rocked by the sex-for-marks scandal where Dr Swizen Kyomuhendo, a lecturer from the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, was caught in a TV investigation, allegedly demanding for sex from female students in exchange for marks.

The principal of the Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Associate Prof Josephine Ahikire, gave the lecturer up to Thursday, March 1, to offer a written explanation over the matter or face disciplinary action.

However, he did not respond and was subsequently suspended. The suspended lecturer has also been stopped from accessing any of the college premises, or interact with any student of the university before investigations are completed. The VC also ordered the implicated lecturer to hand over all university properties to school authorities and vacate his offices as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the story of Internal Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo asking police to first assess their own internal weaknesses before blaming the public for being hostile to them must have excited the public.

Speaking at the opening of the police council meeting Kigo, Wakiso District, on Monday, Gen Odongo said whereas the police is concerned about the negative publicity, it should first focus on the behaviour of its officers.

“It is true that every time you read [news]papers, it is only negative stories being written about police. We need to ask ourselves on why we are only being cited in negative stories. We need to address issues that could be giving us that negative image,” Gen Odongo said.

The minister’s remarks must have received flowers from the public given that several senior police officers have been implicated in crimes such as murder, unlawful arrests, extortion and robbery. A case in point is Joel Aguma (former professional standards unit commander) and former Special Operation Unit commander Nixon Agasirwe, who are facing trial before the court martial over charges of treason.

The story of Security minister Henry Tumukunde praising Opposition leader Kizza Besigye as a powerful man who never abuses his power must have shocked many in government and security circles.

In a gesture uncharacteristic of a serving government official, Gen Tumukunde also described the opposition leader as very principled while still in government and never divided people.

“There has never been a person in Uganda with power than Col Kizza Besigye. Even when he was still in government, if he summoned you, you would see a young man with power under 30 years. But he never abused his power,” he said.

The minister made the remarks on Friday at the burial of Timothy Mark Kainamura, the son of NRM historical and former minister Mathew Rukikaire, in Rwakebengo, Rukungiri District. Besigye was also in attendance.

Tumukunde added that whereas Besigye has left government, he has remained powerful and influential in the country.

“The only person that almost got close was Amama Mbabazi. Besigye is out of government and he still remains a very powerful man. But most importantly he never divided people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Uganda has this week been hosting the summit of the heads of state and governments of troop contributing countries (TTCs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) at Spoke Resort Munyonyo.

However, President Museveni  told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that Somalia is still fragile and any quick withdrawal of troops and funding, the state will be thrown into turmoil.

Mr Museveni’s concerns come amid declining financial and logistical support to Somalia as TTCs begin a gradual withdrawal from the country.

The UNSC in August 2017 agreed to a phased withdrawal and troop reduction of Amisom by 2020.

But the TTCs argue that this is unrealistic and would undermine their previous gains.

Amisom has so far recovered 80 percent of the country from Al Shabaab militants but TTCs said the country remains prone to militant attacks.

The countries want ample time to integrate, reorganize, train and mentor Somali security forces.

Somalia President Abdullahi Mohammed also reiterated the need for support from Amisom.

President Museveni with Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, after the ummit of Heads of State and Governments of AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries today at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Friday: COURTESY PHOTO

Meanwhile, the public’s attention has been drawn to the wealth of former Bank of Uganda Director for Supervision Justine Bagyenda. This is after it was revealed that she has Shs19b stacked away on three accounts, making her several times richer than her former boss, Dr Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, who is the highest paid salary earner in Uganda.

Sources have intimated to PML Daily that the money was accumulated in six years.

Dr Mutebile, the central bank governor earns Shs53.3 million per month. According to statements available, Bagyenda has been banking Shs66.6m per week, making it Shs266m per month between 2013 and 2018.

 

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