Hoima town burst into celebration yesterday evening when supporters and friends of the Hoima LC3 chairman, Francis Atugonza, flooded the streets to welcome him from jail.
Atugonza was arrested early this year for abuse of office and theft of government property. The charges stem from the illegal sale of land in Hoima Town Council to Warid Telecom. The case is being prosecuted by the Anti-Corruption Court.
As Atugonza drove into Hoima, he was escorted by a convoy of cars that joined him at Rive Kafu on the border of Hoima and Kiboga districts. When the convoy reached Kinubi, about a kilometer away from the town center, he was surrounded by hundreds of people who led him in a procession to the Boma Grounds.
The crowd sung and chanted praises to Atugonza and the opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change, where he is National Secretary for Trade and Industry.
In his address to his supporters, Atugonza repeated a claim that his arrest was orchestrated by his political rivals. He accused the ruling National Resistance Movement for sidelining people, who like him, are working for the progress of Uganda.
Atugonza singled out the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Henry Muganwa Kajura, as one of his chief opponents. He claimed a vehicle belonging to Kajura's Public Service Ministry was used in his arrest. He added that it was possible Kajura had influenced the police to charge him.
Kajura has not yet responded to his charge.
Francis Atugonza boasted about his popularity growing despite the fact that it was the first time this year he was arrested for a corruption-related case. In April he was arrested for soliciting for a bribe to influence the outcome of a major town council bidding process.
Atugonza claimed that while he was in prison he was visited by more than 4,500 people. He said it was a sign that he would win back his seat in the 2011 general elections.