Dear Museveni and Kale Kayihura, I only fear God
“But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak these words in your ears” Jeremiah 26:14 -15.
Since 10th April 2008, I have gone through untold torture, dehumanization, traumatisation, deprivation of my money and property and so many ugly scenarios. In June 2008, I almost had a rendezvous with my creator. To be specific, from 27th to 30th June 2008, I was almost dead. All because I use my tongue and my pen to condemn the grave injustice to which Ugandans are subjected by a group of people who purportedly spent five years in the bush fighting to liberate us.
As a matter of fact, majority of the bush war fighters were pursuing self-aggrandisement and self-liberation. Indeed, twenty seven years in power, they claim they are still liberating us even when it is vividly clear that all well-meaning Ugandans yearn to be liberated from the “liberators”.
On 10th April 2008, I had a complaint which I wanted to lodge with the Inspector General of Police Gen Edward Kale Kayihura. I guess he alerted the police men at the gate to torment me because as soon as I reached the entrance, the wretched policemen gave me hell. I straight away went to Human Rights Network (HURINET) and shared what I had gone through with HURINET’s national coordinator Mr. Muhammed Ndifuna. The following day on April 11, 2008, I was arrested and taken to Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) where I spent five days being subjected to all sorts of torture under the command of the then OC station Mr. Johnson Bahimbise. They secluded me from other inmates and locked me into a cell from where they poured too much water on me. From this first cell, I would get into contact with people outside and talk to them. One of the policemen who incidentally happened to be my old boy helped me to call Professor John-Jean Barya. When Professor Barya came to see me, he was audaciously blocked from seeing me.
They took me to another cell from which I wouldn’t communicate to anybody. What I did, I stubbornly got a mug and drew water from a sink and poured it onto the policemen who had come for the morning parade and left me into the torture cell. Later they removed me and pushed me into another tiny cell whose floor was littered with human excreta. When I stepped there, it was too painful as the floor was acidic. Meanwhile the police were inducing some inmates to pour cold water on me. As a blessing in disguise, the water they poured on me diluted the acid on the floor. At one time, my voice was broken and I only prayed to God that if I was to die I go into Abraham’s bosom.
After five days in the cells without eating or drinking anything, I saw my brothers Thomas Tayebwa and Bruce Balaba Kabaasa. I broke into tears as soon as I saw them. In the morning, when they came for me they were shamelessly told that if they couldn’t allow that I be taken to Butabika Mental Hospital, they wouldn’t release me. Tayebwa and Kabaasa were left with no choice. So they escorted me with the Police to Butabika Mental Hospital. I thought that if explained my ordeal to the Butabika people, they would understand. Little did I know that the police had already connived with them to conclude what the police had failed to achieve: to kill me using drugs. I remember when Bruce and Tayebwa were asked why I talk so fast and a lot, Bruce said, “Vincent talks a lot but he talks sense through and through”.
I spent nine days in the hospital at first and I got a leave to submit Manchester University scholarship forms to Kulika Charitable Trust. These forms had been brought to me by friends – Albert Ajuna and Alex Tusiime who found me in a terrible state in the hospital wherein I was subjected to pharmacological torture. When I left I never went back but resumed what I was doing – namely, advocating for justice. In mid May, I was arrested as I was going for a meeting at Uganda Christian University. I was taken to Jinja Road Police Station, deprived of money and assaulted. When I reached Jinja Road I was told to go to the Police surgeon for a medical report. Because I had alerted many people including the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) which sent two lawyers and some friends within the NRM, I was not detained. I was to be told by the DPC that “Nuwagaba, you can go when we need you we shall call you”. I was to learn that a friend who was working with statehouse is the one who called and ordered that they don’t detain me.
After that incident I was hosted on Radio West to represent the legal officer of the Democratic Party. On the programme I decried the incompetence, the mediocrity, the injustice and all social ills that characterized the NRM government including but not limited to deliberate refusal to stock health centres with drugs, neglect of government aided schools, granting of jobs on patronage basis, grand theft euphemistically referred to as corruption, among others. When I reached Kampala on May 28, I went to CPS to formally lodge a complaint about my money and property that were stolen as they arrested me. I was grabbed, beaten terribly and dumped into the dungeon. The following day, Alice Muwanguzi, the then RDC of Kampala found me in the cells. I told her what I had gone through and I said I was not ready to tolerate that nonsense.
Ms Muwanguzi told me, “Nuwagaba, let me go and order for your release”. Around twenty minutes later, I was called only to be dumped on the Police Patrol vehicle and dumped in Butabika. I was in Butabika from May 29 to June 24. I developed scales akin to those of tilapia fish, I developed goose bumps/pimples, I got swollen and I became really pathetic. After realizing that the mission to annihilate me with drugs had been accomplished, I was discharged on the 24 June two days to the UN day in support of torture victims.
On 26 June, I was covered in the ACTV documentary and my interview was later broadcast on WBS TV. People who watched it were shocked that the NRM behaves this way. On June 27, I woke up in a very worrying situation and went direct home in Bushenyi. I was later to heal from Ishaka Adventist Hospital where they treated the effects of the drugs I had been subjected to. From that time, I went on bed rest until October.
In 2009, I sued the Attorney General and Dr Tom Onen who had been used to subject me to pharmacological torture under civil suit 92/2009. The case was cause listed in May. However, my lawyer, Robert Kafuko Ntuyo kept telling me this and that.
After suing the government and Dr Onen, I further discovered many other glaring cases of people who were tormented by the police and later dumped in Butabika. I discovered a case of Gaudence Tushabomwe who was fleeced of her money exceeding Sh 25 million by an organization that reportedly had links with members of the first family. She was later dumped in CPS cells where spent many days and thereafter dumped in Butabika.
Dr David Basangwa wrote to the Jinja Road Police Divisional Police Commander asking him to restrain me from going to Butabika Hospital. I was declared persona non grata on the grounds that I sued the Hospital. The Jinja Road Police DPC acknowledged receipt of the letter and noted thus, “correspondence received. OC Butabika please take note and liaise with the Hospital Management.
I was beaten several times as I tried to document Gaudence Tushabomwe’s case. The hospital management would call virtually all the high ranking police officers to get me out of the hospital. Shamelessly, today, the police will pick me from anywhere I am exercising my rights and dump me into Butabika. On one occasion when I was beaten from Butabika, I wrote an open letter to Barack Obama and Ban Ki Moon. When the so-called experts at Butabika read it, they told the police officers that I am a genius, that I have overflowing brains and that that’s what disturbs me. My question to Butabika personnel is, “if God gave me unlimited brains for which I thank him, have you found it problematic that you have to diminish my brains using drugs?”
The nakedness of the lawyers and the courts
On 17th August I was arrested from Makerere University, beaten terribly and dumped in Wandegeya Police cells. Both the lows and highs of this country including UN experts pleaded with the then OC CID Rebecca Namugenyi to release me on police bond but she refused. I later learnt that she had received a call from the IGP Gen Kayihura who questioned her why I was allowed to make phone calls when I was under arrest. I had called Gen Kayihura himself, AIGP Julius Sharita, AIGP Asan Kasingye, CP Sam Kyomukama, CP John Ndungunse, among others.
A day later lecturers from Makerere Dr Yasin Olum and Bwire Lumumba found me at Wandegeya. I was swollen like I had been stung by a swam of bees. They pleaded with Ms Namugenyi for my release on police bond she refused. On 19, August the FHRI sent one of its staff members, Rashid Bunya. The police said they would only release me after subjecting me to drugs. They took me to Nsambya Hospital. I refused the drugs that were to be administered under the police orders and I told Rashid that I wanted to see Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana. I went and found the Deputy Director Sheila Muwanga who told the police that it was my right to refuse medication that they wanted to subject me to.
I was taken back to the police and at 2pm dumped in the police vehicle as if I was a terrorist. I was taken to KCC court before Grade II magistrate James Wambaya, remanded to Murchison Bay prison Luzira. I was to be given bail after magistrate James Wambaya had solicited a bribe of Sh 350,000 (three hundred and fifty thousand) from my friends who sadly used my own money to bribe that shark.
To my dismay, by the time I came out on bail I found that my case civil suit 92/2009 had been dismissed on August 28, 2009 without my knowledge, purportedly without my lawyer’s knowledge. Yet my lawyer had always been telling me the courts are on recess that’s why my case had not been heard. When I called my lawyer to inform him of what I had found out, he sounded rude and I got convinced that he had his palm oiled.
I would like to as that the high court gives me the ruling for my case otherwise, I will take on whoever dismissed my case. I would also like to ask my lawyer Mr. Robert Kafuuko Ntuyo to refund all the money that I gave him for to me, there is no work that he did. Short of that I will drag him to the Law Council and the Uganda Law Society, a professional body to which he belongs.
I would also wish to ask magistrate James Wambaya who without any sense of shame convicted me irregularly without a ruling, without a judgement and on some counts without me appearing in the dock for plea taking to immediately resign and apologise to me.
I appeal to Gen Kale Kayihura, AIGP Kawesi to desist from using institutions funded by taxpayers’ money to torture a person who does what very many others have feared to do. It is my and everyone’s patriotic call to condemn injustice. Like Martin Luther King Jr said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
As a matter of fact, I have been dumped in police cells several times; I have been dumped in mental hospitals several times and I have been dragged to the courts of law and prisons several times. The question that should be asked is: what crime do I commit? Why is the regime scared of me? Why can’t I get peace? The truth of the matter is, I am intrepid, I am immune to fear. At least, I only fear God.
The writer is a human rights defender