UGANDA: WAS THE GULU POLICE STATION ATTACK “STAGE MANAGED” TO PIN OPPOSITION?

Aziku Zata.

Aswa Regional Deputy Police Commander, SSP Tom Aziku Zata addressing the media in Gulu over the Gulu Police Station attack.

“The time won’t be easy especially for those who stand in Museveni way as he leads Uganda into a middle income country. The question of guilt and innocence will be secondary and inconsequential”- Nicholas Sengoba a Ugandan political commentator.

GULU-UGANDA: The last time the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), one of the rebel outfits which had been fighting the government of President Yoweri Museveni since June 1986, attacked “Gulu City”, the headquarters of Northern Uganda was actually around 2003. Since then, residence of Gulu have not experienced gunshots again until Sunday, June 11 2016, when a group of armed gang attacked Gulu Central Police Station in the heart of the City, killing an army officer and a senior police officer.

Security people, alleges that the group was on a mission to rescue one of their jailed colleague, a one Dan Oola-Odiya, the Assistant National Secretary for Mobilization of the opposition Uganda Peoples’ Congress party faction allied to outgoing party president, Dr. Olara Otunnu.

Odiya was arrested at gun-point by unidentified men in civilian clothes on Wednesday June 8, 2016 at 8.00 pm along Coronation road in Bardege division as he was about to board a motorcycle taxi for home. He surfaced one day later at Gulu Central Police Station cells where he has since been accused of having links to a group of armed men who attacked Opit Local Defense Unit Detach, on Friday May 27 2016, in Lakwana sub-county, Gulu district. The armed thugs made away with eight guns after killing a soldier and a toddler.

Odiya is the second high profile politician in Acholi sub-region to be arrested in a similar manner. The first to be abducted was the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) parliamentary candidate for Omoro County in Gulu district, Mr. Simon Toolit-Akecha who was abducted at night from his home in Gulu and dumped in a Kampala City suburb early May 2016. Toolit alleges that his abductors wanted him to drop the election petition he had filed against the re-election of Mr Jacob Oulanyah in Gulu High Court.

This kind of arrest and attack is not uncommon in Uganda since the last election on February 18, 2016. The highest profile member of the opposition to face the wrath of Museveni’s security is his erstwhile enemy and former personal doctor during the bush days, Dr. Kizza Besigye arrested on treason charges. Dr. Besigye, who came second in the presidential election, scored at least 35% of the total vote count while winner Museveni scored about 60%. Another is MP for Nakawa Division Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka.

So far, at least 30 soldiers, including Colonel Dan Opito Odwe and a one Captain Ojara have also been arrested on charges related to subversion. Besides the latest attack on Gulu police station, similar attacks were also carried out in Sebei, Rwenzori and Central regions in the last few months.

What people say about these Developments

Most commentators think these developments are stage managed by the Museveni regime as a decoy to purge the opposition, including soldiers who might have voted for the opposition in the last election, while others think it is being engineered by security agencies fighting each other over intelligence funds.

A columnist with the Daily Monitor, Mr. Nicholas Sengoba, wrote on Tuesday, June 14 2016 that Museveni is behaving like a real guerrilla leader who may withdraw from the frontline as a bait to let his enemies jump into the trap just to destroy them later.

“The time won’t be easy especially for those who stand in Museveni way as he leads Uganda into a middle income country. The question of guilt and innocence will be secondary and inconsequential”, he says.

A retired teacher Mr. Michael Ocan says he thinks the insecurity in northern Uganda was “manufactured” to implicate the UPC leadership allied to Dr. Olara-Otunnu since the Otunnu faction is opposed to the alliance between the Jimmy Akena’s faction and National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. Museveni has appointed two members of the Akena faction on his cabinet.

“For me, I think the insecurity is manufactured as a way of settling political scores within UPC. You know Akena and Otunnu do not see eye to eye. The arrest of Odiya is a means of implicating Otunnu”, says Michael Ocan.

Aruu South Member of Parliament, Mr. Samuel Odonga-Otto says the insecurity in Uganda is a “hoax” created by military and police intelligence agencies fighting each other for operational intelligence funds.

“There is no rebel group in Gulu (Uganda). There is just local politics. There is just rivalry between security forces (police and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence). Don’t be surprised to hear that all intelligence funds are allocated to police in this year’s budget. There are people yearning in the military” says Odonga-Otto.

Leader of the Democratic Party (DP), Mr. Norbert Mao posted a press release on social media that Museveni is trying to implicate all of them in the opposition who are advocating for his exit. Security has also been trailing police and military officers perceived to be bedfellows with opposition.

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