Ministers contradict on Lumbuye's whereabouts

Gen Jeje Odongo

Gen Jeje Odongo

The minister of Foreign Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo has conflicted with his junior minister Okello Oryem about the whereabouts of Ugandan blogger Fred Lumbuye.

The whereabouts of Lumbuye, who was arrested in Turkey about two weeks ago, remains a mystery with Oryem earlier saying that he'd been deported and awaiting trial in courts of law. Some security sources have previously intimidated that Lumbuye was deported into the country on August 7 aboard Turkish Airlines and is being held in Gulu. But according to Gen Odongo, discussions are still going on between Uganda, Turkey and Interpol regarding the extradition of Lumbuye.

On Tuesday this week, while appearing live on NTV morning show, Oryem said "he [Lumbuye] is alive, people shouldn't be worried about him. The relevant authorities will at the right time bring him before courts of law. People should be busy looking for survival, not asking about Lumbuye." He added that as far as he knows, Lumbuye had not been harmed, corroborating earlier reports that Lumbuye has not been tortured whilst in army detention.    

Questioned about these remarks by Kyadongo East MP also the shadow minister for Foreign Affairs Nkunyingi Muwadda, Oryem indicated that he'd been misquoted as saying that Lumbuye was already in the country. 

"Was Lumbuye deported or he's still in Turkey because Hon. Oryem is around there. That will answer us precisely because Hon. Oryem said Lumbuye was deported. The minister [Odongo] says discussions are going on. So is Lumbuye in Uganda or in Turkey. And recently Hon. Oryem said Lumbuye would be produced in courts of law in Uganda. Now the line minister is saying discussions are ongoing. Let us at least get one thing clear. Is Lumbuye in Uganda or Lumbuye is in Turkey?" asked Nkunyingi. 

In response, Oryem said; "I said he was supposed to be deported, they were specific words - presupposed. As a lawyer himself, he's very careful with his words, am very careful with my words. So for him [Nkunyingi] to say that I said that he was deported, I think it was a misquotation of what I have said. And to say that I said he will be produced in the courts of law, I never said that he will be produced in the courts of law in Uganda. I said that at the appropriate time he will be produced in courts by the relevant officers. That is what I said."

Lumbuye's troubles started after among others, allegedly being the source of a rumour that dominated social media in July indicating that President Museveni was very ill and was admitted to a hospital in Germany. The following days he took his allegations to even another level when he announced that Museveni had died from the hospital where he had been taken.

Speaking a few days later, Museveni, said the country has got another challenge of social media, which needs to be dealt with urgently. He ordered security agencies to hunt down anybody who is trading rumours that he was dead and for those outside the country, their citizenship should be revoked.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd