East Africa

Former Uganda Prime Minister Hon. Amama Mbabazi fears arrest

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Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi has expressed fear of a government plan to arrest him on framed up charges.
Mr Mbabazi, who is also the ruling NRM’s secretary general, was sacked from Cabinet on September 18. President Museveni later said he sacked Mr Mbabazi for his involvement in divisive activities which he did not elaborate.

Mr Mbabazi’s sacking has been interpreted as a punishment for his perceived presidential bid in 2016, although he has persistently denied the claim.

Law firms representing Mr Mbabazi have written to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions seeking verification of reports that there is a plan of an impending arrest of the former prime minister and subject him to humiliating and degrading treatment.

Mugisha & Co Advocates, Akampurira & Partners, Muwema & Mugerwa Advocates and Solicitors and Twinobusingye Severino & Co Advocates on November 5 cited Mr Mbabazi’s concerns about reports in some media that he was being investigated in connection with a case of Arab investors and the National Bank of Commerce, where he was a shareholder.

“Our client’s attention has been drawn to various print and electronic media reports indicating that your respective offices are conducting criminal investigations… with intent to charge him with trumped up serious criminal charges of fraud and money laundering which are politically motivated,” the lawyers stated.

However, Gen Kayihura yesterday denied knowledge of any such investigation, saying: “I am not aware of any investigations. At least I am not investigating anything,” adding: “I have not received this letter.”

Since his sacking, and subsequently being forced to take leave of party activities by the NRM Central Executive Committee, Mbabazi has refused to comment on anything concerning his relationship with government or issues in the NRM.
During the Prime Minister’s Question time on Wednesday, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda denied claims that the State was persecuting his predecessor.

“I do not have reliable information that my brother is being persecuted,” Dr Rugunda told the House, adding “Uganda is a free country and anybody should be treated with dignity and Amama should not be exclusively targeted.”

Busongora North MP William Nzoghu had asked Dr Rugunda whether he was aware that Mr Mbabazi was being politically persecuted.
NRM deputy spokesman and executive director of the government Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo, said he was not aware of any investigations against Mr Mbabazi.

“It is very strange that Amama and his lawyers are basing on a Red Pepper story to make all those claims. NRM and government do not operate through Red Pepper,” he said. “He is not beyond suspicion, investigation and even arrest if the police and the investigating arm of government find any evidence against him.”
In the letter, Mr Mbabazi’s lawyers observe that the manner in which the said investigations were being conducted was in bad faith.

“It is politically motivated to curtail our client’s fundamental human rights and freedoms and is intended to ambush him and subject him to humiliation…,” the letter reads.

The lawyers also demanded that Mr Mbabazi be granted full information about the said criminal investigations in order to enable him prepare his defence as is required under the Constitution.

Yesterday, DPP Mike Chibita, declined to comment on the claims because he was out of office but referred the matter to Mr Amos Ngolobe, the acting DPP.

Mr Ngolobe said he was not aware of any investigations against Mr Mbabazi and that his office had not received the letter from his lawyers.

A copy of the letter which this newspaper has seen, however, shows that the DPP’s office received the communication yesterday, November 6, 2014.

“One is entitled to documents after he or she has been charged. That is the normal way things work,” he said. “But I am not aware of any investigations and if I am not aware, then the office of the DPP is not aware,” Mr Ngolobe said.
Yesterday, Mr Severino Twinobusingye one of the lawyers representing Mr Mbabazi, insisted the DPP and Kayihura had received their letter.

Claims on Mbabazi
Some media reports have indicated that Mr Mbabazi is being investigated over fraud and money laundering. However, government officials named to be heading the investigations claim there are no such investigations on Mr Mbabazi.

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