National Unity Platform Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, whose arrest this week triggered protests have led to the death of at least 39 people.
Bobiwine was released on bail on Friday after being charged with holding rallies likely to spread the coronavirus.
Following the violent political and criminal demonstrations, in multiple urban centres in Uganda since 18.11.2020,police and security agencies arrested more than 550 protesters.
The confrontations began after the arrest of Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, at Luuka Ssaza grounds, Luuka District, due to his continued blatant disregard of the Electoral Commission guidelines, which were further escalated, after bloggers posted FAKE NEWS that he had been killed.
The NUP cell at Kisekka market began the protests with the burning of tyres, and the protests spread to some other areas. All indicators reveal that these events were not just impromptu actions, but part of a loosely coordinated campaign by the political group in the areas of Central Region, Kampala Metropolitan (Kawempe, Rubaga, Makindye, Nakawa, Kira Municipality and Wakiso, Greater Masaka, Busoga and Elgon.
According to police spokesperson Fred Enanga revealed that the arrested protesters have appeared in court . Most of the arrests involved suspects from the KMP area, where the NUP cells were mostly created, followed by Masaka and Mityana; while the remaining group of suspects were from Busoga and Mbale respectively. Several exhibits including bows and arrows, piles of stocked tyres, bottles, drums of fuel, and evidence of mobile money transactions funding the rioters.
The violent demonstrations were being coordinated by a group of three hundred (300) ring leaders who were actively coordinating the distribution of tyres to their flash points and hotspots, using Motor vehicles and Boda bodas. Some of the ring leaders have been arrested and we are still seeking other ring leaders, notably among them are the following;
Malingolingo Nkedi – contesting for councillorship in Nansana Municipality.
Machete Ashraf, the commander freedom bodabodas who are about 50 in number
Nusfa Nakato, a candidate for councilor seat at KCCA
Kulya Saul – KCCA councilor Kawempe North
Rodha alias Maama Kampala mobilizer for NUP cells in Bwaise and Kyebando indusial area
Bagonza Thomas, the NUP candidate for councilor seat Bwaise II, in Kawempe
Mathais Walukagga, mobilizing in Busoga Region.
We also have other ring leaders, who were captured on CCTV cameras and other videos uploaded on social media and widely circulated.
Therefore, what we have seen in the last two days i.e., the violence, vandalism looting, intimidation and threats, are crimes that were being committed targeting people who are not pro-NUP and also against people’s property. Now this is something that we shall not tolerate.
As you all know, the Joint Task Force, respects freedom of assembly and people’s democratic rights, but will NOT allow for violent demonstrators and criminal opportunists to disrupt the peaceful environment, we have had over the years. We have stepped up presence of our security personnel and minimized the use of teargas which is indiscriminate in nature and resorted to the use of batons which are more specific.
The task team of the investigators continues to pursue investigative leads and also monitor online hate speech related to the violent demonstrations. Therefore, those who continue to encourage rioting and threaten individuals on account of their tribes and beliefs etc, across Facebook posts, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp will be attended to by our cybercrime teams.
It’s clear that the organized attacks were aided by social media to sow discord of hatred in society and further instigated by the ring leaders, which fitted the pattern that some of the NUP leaders and supporters want chaos. They were burning tyres, setting illegal roadblocks, using Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs), nailed tyre cutters, damaged CCTV cameras and street signs, damaged tarmac roads, attacked officers with hammers and stones, pangas, conspired to destroy government and private installations including petrol stations and UMEME installations. Some used the protests as an opportunity for looting motorists across the suburbs of Kampala, smashing windows and stealing items from cars and shops.
The riots have had collateral damages which included 28 civilian casualties, 11 injuries of security personnel, damaged 11 Motor vehicles, 2 police vehicles and 2 government vehicles. We also impounded 12 motor vehicles suspected to be carrying materials of riot. As well as ambulances transporting rioters disguised patients.
Going forward, we will continue to work with all partners, to enforce laws prohibiting acts of violence. The Joint Task Force is committed to ensuring that all Ugandan’s freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner. Therefore, we would like to warn all those that are already drawn into the violent protests and those that are intending to join, to reject such calls and remain law abiding.