The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has asked the Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo to present a comprehensive statement to Parliament in regard to the weekend’s teargassing of the retired Bishop of Masaka diocese John Baptist Kaggwa who was attending a cultural event of his Mbogo (Buffalo) clan in Mityana district.
Kadaga’s directive followed a statement by Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake, who rose on a matter of national importance, telling Parliament about Saturday’s actions by the police in Mityana which used teargas to disperse members of the Mbogo Clan who had convened at their ancestral site at Mugulu in Ziggoti Town Council to attend thanksgiving prayers for their clan leader, Gajuule Kayiira Kasibante.
For seven years, Kasibante served as head of the Buganda clan leaders’ council until last month when the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II replaced him with Omutaka Namwama Augustine Nsereko.
The Mass was led by retired Masaka Diocesan Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa, but the function was later disrupted by police and military officers who fired teargas to block more people from accessing the venue. In the ensuing melee, some elderly persons fainted after inhaling teargas.
Zaake told parliament that the elders had observed all the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) but police officers went ahead to rudely disperse them with teargas.
He said that Parliament needed to condemn the act and also call for the suspension of the Mityana District Police Commander (DPC) Alex Mwine who he said has severally been involved in the violation of human rights.
KASINGYE MEETS BISHOP KAGGWA
As pressure continued to pile on the Police, the force’s chief political commissar, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Asan Kasingye travelled to Masaka to deliver the IGP Martin Okoth-Ochola’s apologies.
In his apology, Ochola admitted that there was an operational lapse that led to the use of teargas which affected the prelate and the cultural leaders.
“The IGP carried out a thorough review and evaluation of the incident, and acknowledges the operational lapse which led to the use of teargas that spread and impacted on the congregation and the public,” Kasingye said in a statement.
Bishop Kaggwa welcomed the gesture but asked the police to put the apology in writing and formally distribute copies to the Catholic Church, Buganda Kingdom and the public.
On Monday, police spokesman Fred Enanga said their actions were to prevent a big gathering in a bid to stop further spread of Coronavirus in the country.
He explained that the incident that led to the firing of teargas was caused by some invited politicians like Zaake and the Busujju MP David Kalwanga among others who came with a fleet of boda-bodas, and several youth who attracted a larger gathering in uncontrolled setting contrary to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines against COVID-19.