With a seeming resurgence of terror attacks in the country, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga has rallied the population to cooperate with security agencies in efforts aimed at fighting the terror threats but with a caution; not to allow to be used by the state.
“We want to encourage the population to cooperate with security because terror is indiscriminate… be vigilant and report appropriately,” Mpuuga said on Wednesday during a press conference at Parliament.
“We want to warn the general public to avoid being used in circumstances where the state is so desperate,” he added, making reference to statements by an attendant at a bar and pork joint in Komamboga, a Kampala suburb that was attacked at the weekend by suspected terrorists.
“That kind of conduct is dangerous to the public, and some of us who have been here for time know how the Ugandan state works. The public should desist from being used by the state in ignorance by exploiting their gullibility, but only cooperate where they actually have information so that the population is properly protected,” Mpuuga said.
The police said the Komamboga attackers used an improvised explosive device (IED) at the popular hangout leaving at least one person dead and scores of others injured.
A day later, a suspected suicide bomber blew up himself aboard a Mbarara-bound bus at Lungala in Mpigi along the Kampala – Masaka highway. Both attacks have been linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Mpuuga wondered why the country’s security agencies didn’t take seriously an alert by the UK government of a possible terror attack and instead offered assurances of their readiness to deal with any form of threats.
“The attacks came on a backdrop of advisory warnings from the UK governments to which our security responded with conviction that they are aware and ready. Readiness connoted the capacity to stop or avert the terror, but we are here grieving the loss of lives,” Mpuuga said.
The UK issued a security advisory on October 14, warning its national of a possible terror attack in Uganda targeting crowded and public places like hotels, transport hubs, restaurants and bars.
“One of the biggest challenges in fighting terror is by state actors, communicating in riddles because we have a dozen of them that are managing security in the country – each communicating variously and throwing the public into confusion. We invite the security agencies to give the country coherent and consistent information,” Mpuuga said.
He also appealed to the government to avoid using the resurgence of the terror as an opportunity to settle political scores.
“Whereas terrorism breeds desperation, it’s not the space of government to act desperately. When citizens are scared, the government has a duty to continue giving the public that they are in charge. When we hear stories of accusations without proper investigation including outpost accusations against political groupings, our understanding is that the government would have elected not to investigate but to act in a heist and lose an opportunity to investigate and get to the bottom of the investigations,” the LOP said.
Besides a demand for proper investigations, the Leader of the Opposition also wants accountability of the funds which were appropriated by Parliament in 2018 to fund the national security budget.
“In 2018, Gen Museveni addressed Parliament on issues of national security and in it announced a raft of measures to curb insecurity; we want to demand of him to come and offer scorecard as to how the measures he so proposed because the measures were followed with a request in the budget,” Mpuuga said.
In the wake of killings that claimed the lives of high profile personalities including the then Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga, President Yoweri Museveni addressed Parliament on June 20, 2018, during which he announced measures aimed at curbing insecurity in the country.
Three months later, Parliament approved a government request to borrow more than $ 104 million (Shs 374.4 billion) from Standard Chartered Bank to finance the National CCTV Network Expansion Project which was key among Museveni’s measures to fight criminality.
“We demand that Gen Museveni should inform the country on how these measures have worked,” Mpuuga said.
Mpuuga also addressed the press on the condition of MPs Allan Ssewanya (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) whose bail application was rejected by the High Court in Masaka.
The Nyendo-Mukungwe legislator called on the judiciary to act in conformity with the law since judicial power is derived from the people not from the state.