On January 5, Works and Transport minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala flew a military chopper to Kalangala to rescue supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) who had been in police detention for almost a week.
At least 27 Kalangala-based NUP supporters were arrested on December 30, 2020, the day Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu went to the islands district for his presidential campaigns.
More than 90 NUP supporters were arrested on the fateful day, and the majority of them who were part of Kyagulanyi’s campaign team were transferred to Masaka where they were charged with taking part in an activity that is likely to spread an infectious disease and incitement of violence.
Having 27 Kalangala-born detainees at Kalangala police station over politically motivated charges became an issue of concern to the NRM leadership in the district who feared that it could affect their candidates’ chances at the elections.
This is why NRM leaders led by Fred Badda, the party’s parliamentary flagbearer for Bujumba constituency, met the Resident District Commossioner (RDC), Daniel Kikoola, to speak to the police to release the opposition political activists without a charge.
Kikoola and his deputy Bakunda Mushambo engaged the District Police Commander (DPC), Benon Byamukama who informed them that the case file was not in his hands but in those of the head of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Grace Akullo.
The only person who could convince Akullo to drop the case file was Gen. Katumba Wamala who is a born of the district.
On January 4, the minister is understood to have asked the DPC to delay taking the detainees to court to allow him time to engage Akullo.
The following morning, the same chopper that airlifted Kyagulanyi out Kalangala following his arrest on December 30, landed at Kibanga Primary School playground in Kalangala town council with Gen. Katumba on board.
In the company of Badda and Kikoola, Katumba Wamala headed straight to the police station where he had a brief meeting with the police commanders before addressing the detainees whom he cautioned against rioting.
Outside the police station, NUP leaders in the district were waiting with dozens of other supporters ready to stand surety for their colleagues.
“Everything has been settled, no one is going to be taken to court, you can use the money you had prepared for the court process for other things,” Katumba Wamala told the excited opposition supporters.
He said that there was no reason for prosecuting the detainees.
“In Ssese (Kalangala district) we have a very strong social bond, we know each other based on our family networks, a difference in political opinion can’t divide us. If these young people were misled by people who came from outside Ssese… because we had never tasted teargas here, this was the first time; I believe that it is better for us to resolve this issue amicably,” Katumba said.