“There are two types of torture; the physical torture they subjected me to and it’s painful, but there is also the psychological torture, which they are doing right now which is more painful. How can a minister I respect like Obiga-Kania go and start lying to parliament?” said Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP.
He was referring to Mario Obiga-Kania, the minister of state for Internal Affairs, who told parliament last week that the lawmaker’s bloody injuries to the head, chest and legs were self-inflicted in police custody.
The minister said Zaake, handcuffed and chained to a hook in a police ambulance, twisted and banged himself repeatedly against the metal bars of the truck. The minister said Zaake hurt himself while being transported from Mityana to Kampala.
The minister made the eyebrow-raising claim after the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga demanded an official explanation to what happened to the youthful MP. The speaker had visited Zaake at Lubaga hospital. Obiga-Kania told parliament that police investigations had proved Zaake had hurt himself.
“According to the statement of the car commander, Zaake kept on knocking himself on the metals of the pickup. It’s possible that these injuries were a result of the knocking,” Obiga-Kania told parliament.
The following day police spokesperson Fred Enanga reechoed the minister’s statement. He said Zaake and other opposition leaders are in the habit of claiming torture in order to attract public sympathy.
“The public should know that Hon Zaake is one person who has a history of violent conduct, which has been witnessed on a couple of occasions in parliament and the Arua [by-election] fracas. He has much disrespect for security personnel. He has previously feigned sickness as a tool to politicize and snub some of the legal procedures in place for political sympathy and some of these they use to mobilize their donors as a political group,” Enanga said.
Interviewed for a comment, Zaake said Obiga-Kania and Enanga told blatant lies.
“When they beat me and fail to sway me from what I believe in, they think I will give in to psychological torture; that’s what they are doing,” Zaake told this writer at his home in Nalumunye. He was discharged on Saturday from Lubaga hospital where he spent close to two weeks.
Zaake said that on top of being so hurt by the minister’s statement, he was equally taken aback by the way his police statement was twisted.
He said he was interrogated on his hospital bed for six hours by Criminal Investigation Director officers.
“I first resisted their interrogation because I was still in a lot of pain but I later allowed them to interview me. They told me they wanted the statement to prosecute those behind my torture. I didn’t think that a minister I sit with in the committee of Defense and Internal Affairs, a person I relate with so well, would twist my statement. He should have used my statement and the security statement to make an independent judgment,” Zaake said.
The People Power youth coordinator has already opened up a case against individual police and military officers who tortured him.
The government through the attorney general was sued too. Those sued include; Bob Kagarura, the police commander for Wamala region, Alex Mwine, the Mityana district police commander, Elly Womanya, the commandant of the police’s Special Investigation Unit, Musa Walugembe, the officer in charge of the Special Investigation Unit, Abel Kandiho, the head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. Others are Hamdan Twesigye and Mulungi Haruna Nsamba.
Zaake was arrested on April 19 from his home at Buswabu-longo in Mityana municipality for flouting the presidential ban on distribution of food to people affected by the Covid-19-induced nationwide lockdown. But in his statement detailing what happened to him while in police custody, Zaake says at no time was he told that he was arrested for distributing food.
“They were insulting me, asking me how a useless person like me can even imagine fighting President Museveni. They kept saying that I was not even worthy to be a class monitor let alone a member of parliament. They told me I should be praising Museveni for making it possible for a person like me to be a leader. Nothing was mentioned about distributing food outside Covid-19 regulations,” Zaake said in a Facebook post, a claim he repeated in an interview with The Observer.
He added that they made him swear that he will never again oppose President Museveni, his wife, Janet Museveni and his son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who they said is Uganda’s next president.
“Will I hear you ever again saying that dog Bobi Wine is your next president?” Zaake quotes one of his tormentors as saying.
This is the fourth time Zaake has been tortured in his four years as a member of parliament. The first time was during the push and pull to amend the Constitution and remove the 75-year age cap to allow President Museveni run for re-election in 2021.
Zaake was also badly beaten during the Arua Municipality by-election after security accused him and supporters of the eventual winner Kassiano Wadri of endangering the president after they allegedly threw a stone at the presidential convoy.