With police and blocking all exit points from his house, Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda developed some quick thinking by climbing up his fence so as to address the area residents.
Police, with the help of military, blocked Ssemujju from exiting his home in Bukasa, Kirinya in Wakiso district for a rally in Kireka. As early as 7.30am on Friday, police had already sealed off the MPs’ home and and parked three police trucks in the road enroute to the MP's house inconveniencing his neighbours using the same road.
Some police officers even jumped over the fence to arrest the MP but took off as soon as they saw media personnel according to Ssemujju’s narration of the days’ events. Ssemujju, together with fellow MPs who voted against the amendment of the Constitution to lift the age limits last year, were meant to hold a rally at Jokas Hotel near Namboole stadium.
But the over 40 police personnel and about 20 army men surrounded Ssemujju’s home and vowed to arrest the MP as soon as he set foot outside his home. No cars were allowed to drive into the gated house, and neither were any guests wearing red (People Power) or blue (FDC) colours allowed in.
Inside his home, his supporters were also vowing to take on the police to have the MP go for the rally. Kampala East Regional Police Commander (RPC), Musani Sabira said the MP’s letter notifying police about the rally, came on short notice although Ssemujju insisted that he sent in the letter on Monday, November 12 three days before the rally as per the demands of the Public Order Management Act (POMA).
According to a copy of the letter, the Inspector General of Police office received the letter on November 12 but on November 15, police wrote back to the MP stopping the rally saying he submitted the letter just a day to the rally on November 16.
Throughout the entire day standout, Sabira was receiving instructions on his mobile phone on what to do. Police’s intention was to either arrest Ssemujju and drive him away or frustrate him from leaving his home.
Sabina gave Ssemujju two options; to either cancel the rally altogether, or write to police again to reschedule the rally. In Kireka and surrounding areas, police and the army had also deployed heavily.
There was a mini scuffle between Ssemujju’s supporters and police as they attempted to arrest him in the afternoon on his way out with fellow MPs including Medard Ssegoona, Paul Mwiru, Winnie Kiiza, Gafa Mbwatekamwa, Rose Namayanja, Gerald Karuhanga among others. The MPs planted a symbolic ‘Constitution' (freedom) tree in Ssemujju’s compound in recognition of the MPs’ vote against age limit amendment.
Following the scuffle that left Ssemujju's wife Faridah in tears, the MP was advised by former Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP) Winnie Kiiza to avoid being arrested on Friday because that would mean the MP spending the entire weekend in jail.
Police, who all the time kept a close eye at the the gates, were caught unawares when Ssemujju climbed up on the fence and started addressing the now swelling crowd that had been drawn by the standoff.
Some police officers were bemused to the point of even laughing at the Ssemujju’s short speech in which he attacked President Museveni for refusing to leave power and blocking his political rivals from exercising their rights.
“Museveni has ruled for so long and aged from power, now he even needs pampers. That is why in his convoy, it’s the mobile toilet van that is serviced the most. These policemen are not the problem, they are simply following orders from Mr Museveni. School children are dying because criminals are burning their schools but they are here at my home as uninvited. All these patrols trucks and policemen deployed here are wasting money and time yet there are no medicines in the hospital” he said in Luganda to the cheering crowd.
“As Bobi Wine told you, Ugandans please wake up and liberate your country if you don’t want to live in poverty for the rest pf your lives as Museveni and family keep on living luxuriously at your expense. Even these police officers at the end of the day, they will fall sick and go to hospitals without medicines.” he added.
"If it's money that is keeping Museveni in power, we have special elderly fund of Shs 25,000 per month for the next 10 years for Museveni and his wife to enjoy. They can't fight a wave of change that has come."
Earlier Leader of Opposition in Parliament Betty Aol Ochan who was the first MP to visit Ssemujju said, it’s such a disappointment that a government pushing for national dialogue is the one now blocking an MP from leaving his home to go and address his constituents.
Aol tried to call police boss Martin Okoth Ochola to find out why his police officers were blocking an MP from leaving his home but Ochola’s mobile number was switched off.
Aol said the continued pushing of Ugandans to the wall will eventually force some to go the bush like Museveni did in the 1980s so as to regain their freedoms.
Meanwhile, Kiiza said Ugandans should get angry one day because they have been provoked long enough by the government’s actions and denial of services and force Museveni out of power. Paul Mwiru echoed the same, saying government was wasting resources on blocking one MP from leaving his home yet social services are in an appalling state.