The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has dismissed as untrue reports that security agencies arrested a UPDF officer at the precincts of Parliament.
Legislators on Tuesday claimed that John Mwale, a UPDF officer, who was at Parliament to visit the Speaker, was arrested. Mwale claimed that he had been arrested and tortured by the army.
Hon. Luttamaguzi Ssemakula (DP, Nakaseke South) said that the officer had met him and had advised that he puts his complaints in a petition and have it presented to the Speaker.
Members were debating reports of the Human Rights Committee about alleged torture of suspects and detainees in Nalufenya detention facility. MPs condemned the torture reported at Police stations and detention facilities.
The Speaker instructed the Commandant of Parliament Police to furnish her with a report about what happened to Mwale.
The Speaker said during Wednesday’s plenary that Mwale had been in Parliament, had breakfast in the Parliament Restaurant and even addressed a press conference with the Nakaseke South legislator.
“He addressed a press conference and spent a lot of the time in Parliament Building. He exited Parliament Building at 2.00pm. I have pictures of him walking freely, on the bridge, in the corridors and on the steps of the North Wing,” said Kadaga.
The Speaker gave times at which the said officer walked into Parliament Building, what he did, where he went until he left the Building, as recorded by the CCTV cameras.
“Members, not anyone can address a press conference here, if this happens again, I will discipline you for breaching the Parliament Rules,” added the Speaker.
The Speaker said that Mwale was in the Parliament Building without her “knowledge or authority.”
Lt Mwaale told press at parliament on Wednesday that he Was Beaten By His Fellow Soldiers at Mbuya Barracks on orders of his boss one Maj. Ramathan Gidudu.
He says he was scalded with a red hot machete, had one of his finger nails plucked out and was punched hard that he even lost some teeth.
The solider who presented photographic evidence of the torture claims it was as a result of misunderstandings between him and Commander Gidudu.
However, the army spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire however, says this torture never happened and that Mwaale sustained the injuries long before his arrest.
On the contrary, Karemire says, Mwaale was “a habitual drunkard and violent officer.”
“He was in the wee hours of 6th Feb 2015 arrested from Kisenyi bar and because of his very violent character, was handcuffed on arrest,” said the army mouthpiece in a statement.
“He was subsequently charged in the Military Police Unit Disciplinary Committee for drunkenness, insubordinate behavior, and attempt to commit arson.”
Karemire says the soldier was convicted and served a sentence of one year; underwent various medical treatment at various centers aimed at saving him from some long time held ailments.
“He was released on 22nd July 2016 and ought to have reported back to his Military Police Unit. He is still a serving UPDF officer and can access free and proper medical treatment. Any concerns he may have, can still be handled by the leadership.”
Earlier this evening after addressing press at Parliament, there were reports that Lt Mwaale was grabbed by suspected soldiers and whisked away, which sparked murmurs in Parliament corridors.
But the army spokesperson when contacted also dismissed the reports telling us, “I can confirm to you that he is currently at his house.”
Brig Karemire stressed that the UPDF remains firm in dealing with any indisciplined soldier “using our tested legal methods.”
“Discipline remains our bedrock and a core value of the UPDF culture and no gimmick can make us deviate from it,” he added.