The national army is demanding for an explanation from opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Olara Otunnu in relation to the recent incidents unfolding in northern Uganda.
Army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said on Sunday that armed men attacked Gulu Central Police Station with the motive of rescuing Dan Oola Odiya, the Uganda People’s Congress [UPC] deputy secretary for mobilisation.
“Dan Oola and Mr Otunnu must explain their relationship with attackers on a government police installation,” Ankunda said.
Ankunda said nine attackers and their commander, David Opiyo, have since been arrested after their failed mission.
Odiya who was supposed to be rescued by the group has already been charged with treason and remanded to Gulu central prison.
The army doesn’t explain how the UPC president is linked to the attackers.
Rebels or gangs?
Ankunda said more three UPDF soldiers had been arrested as part of the 30 others including a Major and Colonel who are accused of plotting a coup.
Ankunda dismissed the branding of Gulu attackers as rebels calling them “just gangs” and “amateurs”.
“If they were organised, they could not have lost guns like that. But are being led by someone.”
Speaking on the matter, Gulu district Chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi said it was difficult to tell what is going on and couldn’t confirm whether the attackers are rebels or not.
“We went to Opit [gunmen attacked a UPDF detach here] and have been talking to people to get information. It is difficult to tell if they are rebels,” Ojara said.
UPDF 4th division commander Brig Kayanja Muhanga told Democratic Party president Norbert Mao that the attackers were based in Oyam, predicting that they could be former Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] combatants.
Appearing on KFM Hot Seat Monday, Ankunda said an attack on an army installation is an “act of defiance”, echoing Besigye’s defiance campaign.
Asked whether he thought Besigye was directly involved with the group, Ankunda pointed out that someone must be behind the attacks.
“I can’t say it was planned by Besigye…but these things don’t happen in isolation.”
The state cites the video in which Besigye appeared to have taken oath as the people’s president saying it could incite a public uprising.
The arrested soldiers [who would supply guns] were allegedly part of the group that would take to the streets in the said uprising.
Like Besigye, they will be charged with treason upon completion of investigations.
Forum for Democratic change party has since challenged government to produce evidence in courts linking the arrested soldiers with Besigye and incarcerated Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka.
FDC deputy secretary general Harold Kaija said the arrest and detention of Kabaziguruka and linking him with the detained Entebbe air force garrison commander, Col Odwee Dan Opit, is a clear sign that the regime has failed.
Kaija reminded NRM handlers who said opposition has no support in the army wondering why they are now arresting army and police officers over Besigye.
Appearing on NBS television Tuesday evening, Otunnu said UPC mobiliser Odiya was abducted at gun point last week and the abduction was done by police.
He called Odiya a good man since he has known him for years.
“He is innocent until found guilty.”
Otunnu said what is happening to Odiya is wrong and rogue.
“He is a remarkable man. I have no hesitation to stand by him.”
Mao weighs in
DP president Mao, on the other hand, says the Gulu attack was done by UPDF soldiers who are disgruntled and tired of being used as tools.
He said Odiya was also in charge of polling day logistic in Gulu, Amuru and Nwoya for the Amama Mbabazi campaign.
He was intercepted unknown gunmen about a week ago as he tried to get a boda boda to go to his home and remained in detention for several days without being produced in court.
“Our legal system is based on the presumption of innocence. The continued detention of Odiya or for that matter any of the suspects beyond 48 hours is therefore unlawful and a breach of their constitutional rights.”
Mao called upon the security organs of the state to adhere to the rule of law and refrain from making politically motivated arrests.