The UPDF Soldiers attached to Tooro Kingdom assaulted the students, who were demanding answers why the Tooro Kingdom Concern Offices were open and yet investigations into mismanagement of the programme hadn\'t been completed
There were running battles on Friday at the Tooro Kingdom headquarters, Mucwa between students under the Kingdom scholarship programme and the Kingdom royal guards.
The more than 30 students were protesting the reopening of Tooro Kingdom Education Concern Program (TECOP) offices. The offices are housed at the kingdom headquarters.
On Wednesday, Tooro Kingdom suspended the bursary programme that was being undertaken by Tooro Education Concern, an NGO over irregularities. The Kingdom through Tooro Education Concern contributes 50% of the tuition fees while the beneficiaries meet the rest of the tuition. The Tooro Education Concern offices were also closed on the orders of Harriet Nyakake, the deputy kingdom premier.
On Friday morning, the Kingdom cabinet that was chaired by Steven Kaliba, the Kingdom premier resolved to reopen the offices. However this annoyed some of the students and they stormed the headquarters demanding answers from Kingdom authorities.
They were stopped from entering Kaliba’s offices by armed royal guards, who are Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers. However, when the students insisted, the guards started beating the students using batons. Some of the students were also kicked and slapped by the guards.
Six students were rushed to hospital with injuries inflicted on them during the scuffle.
Steven Mugisa, a student at Uganda Pentecostal University told Uganda Radio Network that the offices should have been opened after investigations into mismanagement of the funds have been completed.
He says that by opening the offices a few days after they were closed, indicates that the kingdom authorities are covering up something suspicious.
Mugisa also questioned the Kingdom’s decision to deploy the army to disperse the students before listening to their grievances. He says that the organization should refund 50% of their tuition that some students had paid.
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Uganda Radio Network has established that the students were paying 50% of their tuition fees in cash directly to Tooro Education Concern, which in turn contributes the rest of the fees and pays it in the bank.
In a telephone interview, Kaliba had no apologies for the actions of the soldiers, saying that they the students deserved it, because they were rowdy. Kaliba says that the cabinet resolved to open the offices, to give chance for auditors to carry out an audit.
Kaliba also says that the Kingdom cabinet will decide whether to resume the bursary programme or scrap it.
Some of the students have opened a case of assault against the guards at Fort Portal police stations.