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Byanyima Fails to Appear for Interrogation

In 2008, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the incumbent Kiira Municipality Member of Parliament was arrested and charged with promoting sectarianism and incitement to violence through a radio program and the Observer Newspaper.
Edith Byanyima has failed to appear before the Special Investigations Unit-SIU headquarters to respond to accusations of sectarianism and inciting violence. 

On Friday last week, Henry Mugumya, the Director Special Investigations summoned Byanyima to appear at SIU headquarters in Kireka this morning for interrogations.

The summons stem from a protest letter by the family of the late Kenneth Akena, the victim of the Lugogo shooting to the Inspector General of Police to investigate Byanyima's accusations against the people of Acholi.

The trouble between the two parties started after a group of Acholi leaders attacked Winnie Byanyima, the sister of Edith Byanyima for standing surety for Mathew Kanyamunyu, the prime suspect in the murder accusing her of betrayal. Mathew Kanyamunyu is jointly charged with his girlfriend, Cynthia Munwangari and his brother, Joseph Kanyamunyu. 

The leaders including Aruu South MP, Odonga Otto and his Kitgum Municipality counterpart, Beatrice Anywar, argued that it was betrayal for Byanyima, the wife to former Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye to try and bail out the suspects yet Besigye and FDC enjoy mass support in Acholi.

Following the altercation at court between Winnie Byanyima and Acholi leaders, Edith Byanyima was quoted by the media, saying they were in court because Acholi soldiers killed Kanyamunyu's father, James Arthur Kanyamunyu, a reputable evangelist and businessman and his two brothers on suspicion that they collaborators of the National Resistance Army.

"It's so annoying. The Acholis remind us of injustice. They are trying to commit the same injustice. If they had power, we would not be in court. Do they want me to tell them no one has monopoly of violence? This is totally unacceptable." Edith Byanyima reportedly said. 

Akena's family protested Byanyima's outbursts. The family wrote to the IGP through their lawyers, Ojok and Company Advocates, saying they don't in any way wish to curtail Edith Byanyima's God-given right of freedom of speech and expression but vehemently object and oppose her abuse of that right, which she expressed in an ignorant and sectarian manner.

As a result, Police summoned Byanyima for interrogation this morning but she was no show. Police Spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, says Byanyima requested Police to reschedule the interrogations saying she wasn't feeling well. According to Kaweesi, Byanyima will appear on Tuesday. When contacted, Byanyima confirmed she indeed asked Police to reschedule her meeting. 

She however questioned why Police haven't taken keen interest in investigating Odonga Otto and Beatrice Anywar among others for also uttering are sectarian statements and inciting violence.  She wondered why Police have zeroed in on her alone. Edith Byanyima is not the first person to face charges of sectarianism and incitement of violence. 

In 2008, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the incumbent Kiira Municipality Member of Parliament was arrested and charged with "promoting sectarianism" and "incitement to violence" through a radio program and the Observer Newspaper.

The Criminal Investigations Department-CID accused Ssemujju of mobilizing the Baganda against government. CID also claimed that Ssemujju had criticised President Yoweri Museveni in different talk shows for the high rates of human rights violations during his rule. 

In June 2006, Nganda was also accused of the same charges for writing an article that criticized government persecution of opposition leader Kizza Besigye. The trial was halted since the offence was being challenged in the Constitutional Court of Uganda, but Nganda was asked to keep reporting to court frequently. 

The former UPC party president, Dr. Olara Otunu also faced similar charges over his statements in regards to the northern Uganda insurgency, which according to police promoted sectarianism. Otunnu was summoned when he reportedly claimed that President Museveni facilitated the war in Northern Uganda during a radio talk show in Lira.

Otunnu dismissed the summons and didn't show up for the interrogations.  Anybody found guilty of promoting sectarianism could spend five years in jail and another three years for inciting violence.