MPs query government’s list of missing persons released on Thursday

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Members of Parliament have said they are not content with the list of missing Ugandans released by government on Thursday.

 The Internal Affairs Minister, Gen Jeje Odongo, on Thursday finally heeded to a directive by parliament to release the list of missing persons.

 “Today I am presenting to you a list of 177 clearly identifying the person, the date when the person was arrested, the place where the person was arrested from, the reason why the person was arrested and the case management history,”Odongo said.

The minister told parliament that 43 of these had been arrested for participating in riots whereas 156 were found in possession of military stores and others were apprehended while in meetings planning post-election violence.

“Six persons were released on police bond. ln conclusion, going forward, l would like to inform the house and the general public that a copy of this list is at police headquarters with the office of the Chief Political Commissar. The public is encouraged to check with that office the whereabouts of their missing persons and to get permission to visit them,” he said.

However, following the release of the list, legislators insisted that the list didn’t include many other people who have been missing since last year.

 "I have followed the Minister’s list and not even a tenth of what I have on my list have been read. We need to know the whereabouts of these persons,” Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga said as he tabled a list of 423 persons he said were missing.

 Kira Municipality legislator, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said parliament was being used as a clearing agent by the minister, adding that he feared the list was not genuine.

 The Minister of Internal Affairs says that he has the honour to present a list of kidnapped people! Which honour? You should be having regret. People did not know where their relatives were, and now you have the honour to bring the list,” he wondered.

Lwemiyaga’s Theodore Ssekikubo said there is need to investigate properly the reasons behind the arrest of the people who had been declared missing.

He insisted that it could have been politically motivated.

“At an opportune moment we need to interrogate how people under the military went missing: this country has had a bad history and we need to avoid going back there. There is no way we can allow political differences to end in military courts: It is sad to note that abductions are still continuing,”Ssekikubo said.

The legislators demanded an assurance from government on whether such arrests would not continue but in response, Minister Gen Jeje Odongo insisted that in case any Ugandan commits a crime, security will have to come in an arrest them.

“Arrests will continue, so long as there is reason for the arrest and it is conducted reasonably; I cannot stand and says that there will be no more arrests,”Jeje said.

The development comes on the backdrop of a list containing 458 names that the National Unity Platform early this week released and said were missing.

On Thursday, the Internal Affairs Minister insisted that the list of 177 people is what he had but noted he would crosscheck to find if there are others.

“This is what I have so far but I will go back and check our systems to know where these persons are kept. I will look at the lists members have presented here and establish the whereabouts of these people,” he said.

 

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