URN Reporter Brian Luwaga relieves his experience of being manhandled by Police while in the in the line of duty. Luwaga is currently covering the contentious Luweero by-elections.
On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, I was kicked and slapped by the Police while reporting on the Luweero by-elections.
The beating was administered by Director of Operations in Police Grace Turyagumanawe while I was covering the Democratic Party candidate Brenda Nabukenya’s rally.
At 7:30pm, anti-riot police officers escorted by a teargas van cordoned off Kasana playground in Luweero town where Brenda Nabukenya was holding her rally.
The Police were commanded by AIGP Grace Turyagumanawe who ordered for the rally to break up. Turyagumanawe informed the opposition politicians that their rally had gone past the 6pm deadline for political campaigns and should end.
On stage at the time was embattled Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago. Lukwago asked AIGP Turyagumanawe not to teargas the peaceful supporters.
Lukwago went on to warn Turyagumanawe not to wreak havoc at the playground because he already has a criminal record which is documented in the 1996 Justice Julia Ssebutinde report.
Turyagumanawe immediately ordered the police officers to break up the rally. Speakers, including politicians, who were on the stage scampered for safety as police fired teargas and moved to arrest those who attempted to resist.
The politicians locked themselves in their cars as police continued to fire teargas and a stampede broke out as people who had come to listen to Nabukenya fled.
In the chaos, police fired teargas canisters that ended up landing in the compound of Everest College leaving 10 students unconscious.
I had hidden behind a police truck shadowing Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze at the rally.
When the situation became calmer, I approached Savannah Police Spokesperson Lameck Kigozi for comment on why AIGP Turyagumanawe had opened fire at people who had come to attend the rally.
But Turyagumanawe saw Kigozi going away to make a statement with me and intervened. Turyagumanawe tried to grab my recorder while shouting at me to leave the scene.
Kigozi pleaded with Turyagumanawe in vain to stop kicking me as I tried to get away from him. I eventually managed to free myself and ran for my own safety.
Later the Police spokesperson Lameck Kigozi called me on phone over the incident. He said the incident was regretable but defended Turyagumanawe’s actions saying the situation had been out of control.
Kigozi accused opposition politicians of campaigning beyond 6pm which is why they had been dispersed.
The incident has been reported to Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda for action against AIGP Turyagumanawe.
The election is scheduled for Thursday May 22nd, 2014.
The Luweero district woman MP seat fell vacant after the court of appeal nullified the election of opposition candidate Brenda Nabukenya on the grounds that the election didn’t comply with electoral laws. The race has NRM’S Rebecca Nalwanga,Brenda Nabukenya of Dp,Ramulah Kadaala and Faridah Namubiru all independents.