Bony Obicho, 25, a mechanic who was repairing National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi's campaign vehicles is nursing damaged intestines resulting from torture meted out by UPDF soldiers.
Obicho was among the more than 100 Kyagulanyi campaigners arrested on December 30 last year in Kalangala district. The father of two children recounts an agonizing tale of how he was arrested and tortured for repairing cars on Kyagulanyi's campaign trail.
Obicho says it appears the torturous soldiers had observed him fixing the cars that had been damaged on the campaign trail in Jinja, Mbale and Masaka. When they arrested them in Kalangala, he says he was singled out and thrown into a waiting double cabin car, handcuffed and beaten by men dressed in black while driving him to Kalangala police station. The vehicle arrived at the police station at around 6:00 pm.
He was later at about midnight transferred to Kasajagirwa army barracks, Masaka where he was first taken to the sickbay for treatment. He says he was given pain killers but almost immediately, the beatings resumed.
This time around, Obicho says while he was being beaten by soldiers, at a certain point, six soldiers who were beating him tied a white nylon rope around his neck and started pulling it from either side, asking him to reveal Bobi Wine's Plan B. They were also asking why he works on every car shot at or damaged by security during the campaigns.
"They kept asking where I had been trained," Obicho says, adding that the soldiers were suspecting that Bobi Wine might have taken him to countries like Japan, Israel or Germany for car mechanics’ training.
Obicho says he has been repairing cars for over seven years, working with his father who has a garage along Binaisa road, just adjacent to Mulago hospital. His clients included Bobi Wine's brother Mike Wine and music producer Dan Magic among other Bobi Wine’s close associates. That is how he got connected to the NUP party. Obicho says he observed that the campaign team lacked a mechanic, which he offered free of charge. And his services were willingly accepted.
“I joined Bob Wine’s campaign trail with a mindset of helping our country change from the ruling government,” he said.
On December 31, 2020, Obicho says soldiers brought photographs of him working on the damaged cars. And when he confirmed himself in the photographs, he was immediately undressed and asked to bend and face the wall and beaten once again.
On asking why he was beaten, the soldiers reportedly told him that “Kyagulanyi cannot take over power, you are going to die.”
On January 1, 2021, he says he was made to sleep naked on a cold cemented floor the entire night. He was given back his clothes in the morning and taken to another room where he found several colleagues arrested from Kalangala.
The team appeared in Masaka Magistrate's court where they were charged, remanded over assault of police officers and negligent acts likely to spread COVID-19. But Obicho wonders why they were facing COVID-19 related charges yet in detention centres, about 200 people would be crowded in a single room, sleeping body to body.
When they were remanded to Kitalya minimax security prison, Obicho says his health condition worsened and the soldiers called for doctors in Luzira who brought a mobile scan and found that a large portion of Obicho’s intestines were damaged. He showed us scan images of his damaged intestines.
According to Obicho, the sickbay within Kitalya didn’t have drugs and he had to endure the painful days that followed. He was among the 13 NUP supporters granted bail on February 8. After release, he was taken to Mulago and later transferred Lubaga hospital.
“When I reached Mulago, doctors refused me to eat any food with starch but only fruits like apples and drinks like Lucozade [energy drink] on a daily basis,” he said.
Obicho says his medical bills are being footed by the NUP secretariat.
“I can hardly sit or stand. I can’t even work because doctors told me to wait until I recover so as to resume,” he said.
Rony Samanya, a brother to Obicho, says it is very disturbing and traumatizing to see a young hardworking man who was looking after his wife, kids and parents now become jobless and helpless suffering because of torture by the national army.
“We didn’t know that he had been arrested until his wife told us and now we have to stand in the gap which is costly as well,” he said.