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Masindi Politicians Protest Arrest of ESO Legal Advisor

Audio 1

The arrest of a UPDF lieutenant for allegedly participating in partisan politics has drawn sharp criticism from the political elite in Masindi district.
On Saturday evening, Lieutenant Patrick Kasumba, a legal advisor in the External Security Organization, was arrested at a meeting to discuss development, economics and land in Masindi. He was picked up by eight gun-wielding soldiers on the orders of Major General Jim Owoyesigyire, the UPDF Commander of Air Defense, shortly after he presented a paper on land rights.
Half an hour earlier, a group of plain-clothed security operatives had attempted to arrest Lieutenant Kasumba. However they were turned away when they failed to identify themselves.
Believing the situation to be in check, the 500-plus politicians, local leaders, cultural officials and civil society activists in attendance at the meeting were shocked when armed soldiers suddenly stormed the hall. The soldiers forced Lieutenant Kasumba out of his place at the high table, where he was seated next to the Prime Minister of Bunyoro-Kitara, Kiiza Yabezi and the Masindi LC5 chairperson, Steven Birija, and marched him out.
Kasumba was bundled on to an army registered double cabin pickup truck and taken to the Masindi Army Barracks.
Patrick Wako, the Masindi District Internal Security Officer, says the vehicle was denied entrance into the barracks because Kasumba's arrest had not been officially sanctioned. The car was turned around at driven to Masindi Police Station, where Lieutenant Kasumba was dumped.
At the police station, no charges were made against the soldier. So, he turned the guns against Major General Owoyesigyire and filed a case of kidnap with intent to kill against him.
David Tamuzadde, the acting District Police Commander, says he had no choice but to release Kasumba because there was no complaint filed against him.
When word got around to Major General Owoyesigyire that Kasumba was released, he stormed Masindi Police Station at about 7:30 p.m. He blasted the police for releasing the soldier and attempts by Bunyoro Kingdom officials to placate him were useless as he shouted insults at them.
Owoyesigyire accused Kasumba of willfully breaking his service code by participating in partisan politics. He said he had a right to deal with Kasumba in any manner he deemed fit.
The army authorities in Masindi were quick to distance themselves from the Commander of Air Defense.
Lieutenant Amos Akampurira, the acting Counter Intelligence Officer for Field Artillery and Air Defense, said he had no official communication on the reason for Kasumba's arrest. He said the army was willing to help any police investigations if it was called upon, but further than that, he had no reason to detain Kasumba.
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The Kibanda County MP, Sam Otada, who witnessed the fracas, said the arrest was unacceptable. He vowed to table a complaint in Parliament on Tuesday to officially protest the event.
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Steven Birija, the Masindi LC5 chairperson, added his voice to the condemnation of the arrest. He said Lieutenant Kasumba is often called upon to give his legal opinion to public matters and that he did not act outside the law.
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