By Andrew Irumba
The government of Uganda has finally revealed why the police and military brutalised students of Makerere University a few days ago after they staged peaceful protests against the 15% tuition increment by the University Management.
This comes after the Minister for Defence and Veterans Affairs Adolf Mwesige issued a statement to Parliament, in which he revealed that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) did not commit any violence at MAK, but instead helped the police in doing their work.
In his statement titled ‘STATEMENT FROM MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND VETERAN AFFAIRS TO THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION ABOUT THE STRIKE AT MAKERERE UNIVERSITY’ , the Minister states thus;
“In the wake of armed robbery, murder, kidnap especially in Kampala Metropolitan Area, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces in support of the Uganda Police Force made strategic deployments in multiple areas of Kampala city.
These deployments were aimed at curbing criminality which was undermining the peace and security Ugandans have been enjoying since the coming into power by the NRM government.
Some of the areas the Military Police deployed at include; Luzira, Kamwokya, Kiseka Market in Central Kampala, as well as Makerere University.
Makerere University was the staging area for the anti-crime operations in neighbouring areas of Wandegeya, Kivulu, Katanga, Kikoni and Kasubi.
The UPDF opted for Makerere University because the police stations where they would have staged had limited space that could not support a platoon size of a Force with its equipment.
Therefore, by the time the strike started on October 22, 2019 and the Police sought the assistance of the UPDF, Military Police already had its presence within the Makerere Campus.
UPDF leadership through its intelligence and other sources came to learn about the errors committed by some individual members of the Force who could have acted out of the rules of engagement normally issued by the supported Force, and in this case; the Uganda Police Force.
Consequently, on October 28, 2019, the UPDF withdrew Military Police elements that were deployed at the University.
Additionally, the UPDF arrested the Commander who was in charge of the operations at Makerere University and detained him at Makindye Military Barracks.
Furthermore, a Board of Inquiry was set up to investigate all details pertaining to the conduct of the deployed Forces.
The findings of this investigation which are now in the final stages will guide the next course of action that will be taken against those who are found culpable.
As the investigations continue, we wish to state that no person has reported a specific case of sexual assault by a member of the UPDF.
Should we however receive such a complaint, it will be investigated and appropriate action taken.
The UPDF wishes to affirm that the chaotic situation at Makerere University was never occasioned by the UPDF.
The UPDF came in to play a supportive role to the police after the students had for two days behaved in a manner that was in total bleach of law and order.
Finally, we reiterate that the UPDF has a set of principles that define its character. Discipline and being Pro-people army remain its bed rock.
The UPDF leadership with forever uphold that position and whoever deviates from it usually faces the law.”
However, what shocked most Members of Parliament was that the Minister in his statement did not mention anything about the brutality meted out unto journalists who were brutalised by the military and police as they reported about what was happening at Makerere University.
It is not yet clear whether the author of the report intentionally skipped the plight of journalists involved in this case or just ignored the matter.