Why are Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana quiet?
- Written by MUHAMMAD KAKEMBO
It is now more than a month and a half ever since Makindye West member of parliament Allan Ssewanyana and his Kawempe North counterpart Muhammad Ssegirinya were released from prison after spending nearly one and half years on remand.
However, ever since their release, the two MPs are yet to come out to explain to the country the circumstances under which they were released from jail. Following their release, there was talk in the media and elsewhere that there was a gentleman’s understanding between the government of President Museveni and the opposition led by its leader in parliament Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba to have the two MPs freed.
Mpuuga has vehemently denied that there were any such negotiations, at least involving him. He has vowed to resign his position as leader of opposition if anyone brings any evidence that he was involved in any such talks. Speaking to a number of political players close to opposition rank and file, The Observer has learnt that indeed Mpuuga played no role in the release of the two MPs.
However, those we spoke to couldn’t rule out the fact that there could have been a deal reached between the two MPs and the state.
“I think the media got this wrong; as far as I know, there was no deal between us. When we went to court in the numbers that we did, we just wanted to deny the court an excuse for not granting them bail by claiming lack of substantive sureties.
“In fact, to tell you the truth, we were also very surprised when they were released,” an MP who asked not to be named to speak candidly about the matter said. However, this MP who is also close to Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya said he is also starting to doubt whether indeed there was nothing agreed upon.
“These guys are behaving strangely; if indeed they were arrested for political reasons like we had thought, why have they spent more than a month without telling the country what happened? Maybe, they have showed them the evidence against them and it is solid enough to secure a conviction if they don’t keep quiet,” an MP said.
Another MP from the National Unity Platform (NUP) the same party that Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya subscribe to, said they were also surprised with the behaviour of the two MPs.
“We did everything possible to amplify their suffering, we petitioned court several times to have them released, we visited them several times in prison and attended virtually all their court appearances. We were surprised when we went to Kitalya to pick them and they had already left. It’s hard not to think that there is something that was agreed upon with the state for them to be released,” the MP who we granted anonymity to speak freely said.
Another MP said indeed both MPs were sick by the time they were released but now they are in good shape for them to tell the country what happened.
“I have talked to Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya a number of times. I have asked to see them but none of them has responded; they keep on saying one thing after another. Most of the times their known telephone numbers are off. Really, they are making us to suspect them. Their actions are not typical of politicians,” an MP said. This MP who visited the two colleagues a number of times says indeed their health condition was very worrisome.
“Maybe the government feared that they might die in detention and decided to allow them go. I’m not sure Ssewanyana was capable of spending another month in prison,” the MP said.
Speaking to The Observer, David Lewis Rubongoya, the NUP secretary general, said they have reached out to the MPs and asked them to come out and speak about the circumstances surrounding their release.
“They have told us they are still very weak after the sicknesses they suffered while in prison. Like our president Kyagulanyi has said, we don’t want to pass judgment about them without first listening to them. Let them first get well and then we shall invite the media when they are ready to have an interaction with them,” Rubongoya said.
In fact, on Saturday when The Observer spoke to Rubongoya for this story, he said the MPs had already reached out to him and asked that they address the press on Monday this week.
However, the Monday press conference was called off after Ssewanyana saying he wasn’t in a health situation good enough to have the interaction.
“They will definitely come out and say something. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt,” Rubongoya said.
On February 26 when Ssegirinya visited Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the NUP party president, at his home in Magere, he promised him that he would very soon hold a press conference to share his ordeal with the public.
“Today, Hon Ssegirinya Muhammad visited me at home in Magere. I welcomed him from the long period of illegal detention. I also got a call from Hon Sewanyana. Both comrades assured me that their commitment to our struggle for freedom and democracy still stands firm,” Kyagulanyi wrote using his Twitter handle.
In his other public statements, Kyagulanyi emphasised the need for the two MPs to shed light on their release from prison.
“Ordinarily, when our comrades are freed from illegal detention, we speak with them and that enables us to understand better the circumstances of their abduction or arrest, what happened to them in detention, the circumstances of their release, as well as the general state of their health. For now, their families have told us that they are still undergoing treatment. We shall be in position to speak out better after interacting with them,” Kyagulanyi said in an earlier statement.
He added that he had noted the insinuations that the two MPs were released after negotiations with the government and had made some compromises and undertakings.
“Let me be categorical that I do not know about any such negotiations, and if anyone took part in any negotiations to secure court bail for detainees, they did so without my knowledge or endorsement. Our position remains that we must not beg Gen Museveni and his criminal regime to grant us our God-given rights. The suggestion that one needs to negotiate with Museveni to get bail, which should be entirely a court process, is not only shameful but ridiculous... negotiations involve give and take considerations. We have nothing to give to Museveni in exchange for our rights,” Kyagulanyi said.
Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana were arrested in September 2021 on allegations that they were the masterminds of the spate of bijambiya attacks that left more than 20 people killed in the greater Masaka area. For the one and half years they spent on remand, they had asked court to grant them bail in vain.
President Museveni had on several occasions ostracised the judges for granting bail to persons accused of committing heinous crimes. For the two MPs to be granted bail, the director of public prosecutions first withdrew her objection, saying she was confident that their release will not interfere with the ongoing case.
It was a surprise to many because it was the same DPP who had on a number of occasions resisted their application for grant of bail, arguing that if they are released, they would interfere with court processes. When contacted, Ssegirinya didn’t pick or return our calls to his known telephone number while the known telephone numbers of Ssewanyana did not go through.
First of all, these two guys failed to execute a mission they had been assigned by NRM, they even took money and failed to account for it.
They had a duty to destroy NUP from within but luck was not on their side.They are waiting for the right time to pounce, the consequences wont be nice. They are " NUP Rebels" on behalf of NRM
In other words Wadada, these folks shouldn't complain because, it is the love for money that is destroying them.
Besides, if it is not theatrics, in a natural process I suppose poor health and 1 year and 7-month in a Ugandan prison life, would have deflated their bellies and/or physique..
But these guys in all their "appearances/photos"; especially Hon Ssewanyana with full and shinny cheeks, look like they have been living like Kings in a 5-star Hotel and everyday checking and shinning their fingernails at the swimming pool (no ill wish).
E.g., compare them with Sam Mugumya with no penny in his name and out of 8-year imprisonment in one of DR Congo Military prison.
In other words, Hon Ssewanyana and Ssigirinya would have died 5 times in that Prison.
Therefore, what is Kyagulanyi talking about mbu it's a court prosses? Why were they subject to the court prosses which is known to be run by hardcore organized criminals?
Is that what Kyagulanyi calls the court prosses? Uganda is under capture or a state being captured by militants, so where is the court prosses Kyagulanyi is talking about? Kyagulanyi is the problem and the impediment of the struggle for change, because he believes that there's democracy and rule of law in Uganda!