ISTANBUL – The Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake who happens to be the Parliamentary Commissioner has said that his party, National Unity Platform – NUP hired an international human rights lawyer to mitigate the “extradition efforts” and rather push for the granting of asylum documents to the wanted anti-government blogger Fred Lumbuye “so he could be taken to a safer haven in another European country or North America.”
Zaake earlier this week posted photos of himself at Entebbe Airport, saying that he was flying to Turkey to help in the release of Lumbuye.
In his Saturday post, Zaake said that upon arrival in Turkey, they were hopeful that their efforts to reclaim the freedom of Lumbuye would yield.
“We had to first establish the entire gist of the matter and assess the situation on ground but of course this would not be achieved by us on our own but rather with the indulgence of our NUP coordinators within Istanbul,” he said.
He said that they followed up and engaged the concerned Turkish authorities to establish what had inspired the eventual arrest of suspect, claiming that they were told that he was arrested on orders of Ugandan government.
“Our lawyer wrote to the Turkish attorney and laid a series of humanitarian and political grounds that would implore Turkey to heed to our prayer of either granting comrade Lumbuye a resident permit to stay within or consent to his asylum to another willing country which in this case was Netherlands where the paperwork of asylum had even been concluded.”
On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Zaake and team travelled to Turkey as part of their parliamentary duties and not to stop the extradition of the Ugandan government critic.
“The Embassy would like to clarify that Hon. Francis Zaake travelled to Turkey as part of a Delegation of Parliamentary Commissioners and other members of Parliament on Official Government business to undertake a benchmarking visit at the request of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda. The visit is being coordinated by the Ugandan Embassy in Ankara with the relevant authorities of the Republic of Turkey,” the statement said.
According to the Ugandan Embassy in Turkey, Zaake arrived together with other MPs on August, 5 and is scheduled to meet with different managements of Atlas University Hospital, MedicalPark Hospital and Liv Hospital in Istanbul to discuss mechanisms of cooperation between these hospitals and Parliament.
“Media reports alleging that the honorable Member of Parliament travelled to Turkey for any other purposes other than official Government business are misleading and should be disregarded.”
However, the statement didn’t explain whether on the sidelines of the benchmarking trip, Zaake or any other MP can’t be allowed to engage in any other business, including visiting Ugandans staying in Turkey.
Lumbuye, who has been for long wanted by the Ugandan government is known for making reckless statements online via Facebook Live against President Museveni, the first family, Buganda Kingdom, Katikiro Peter Mayiga and other government personalities.
In many of his vlogs, Lumbuye could be seen donning the popular red beret attached to the people power movement and its supporters in Uganda.
In July, 2021, the spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Department, Charles Twine said that security agencies had intensified efforts in tracking the blogger whom they say was the prime orchestrator of the devastating news of the ‘death’ of president Museveni.
This followed President Museveni’s directive to security services to quickly investigate and follow up individuals who peddle false news on social media.
On Friday, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem said that Lumbuye would be deported back home on Saturday.
However, the government has since remained tight-lipped on his whereabouts.