Human rights activists and former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye yesterday castigated President Museveni for asking motorists to preemptively attack any boda-boda rider who is deemed to be following their vehicles in a suspicious manner.
The President’s call of “sorting out boda boda riders” who suspiciously trail people’s cars followed the Friday assassination of the Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi by gunmen moving on motorcycles resembling boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis).
The President made the shocking call on Sunday evening at the home of Kaweesi where he had gone to condole with the family. He bragged how his government had wiped out killer gangsters of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels and said the current wave of killings is being orchestrated by assailants riding on boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis).
Kaweesi, former police spokesperson, was gunned down on his way to work on Friday morning, a short distance from his residence in Kulambiro, a city outskirt. The killers who rained a volley of bullets on his vehicle and also killed his driver Godfrey Wambewo and bodyguard Kenneth Erau, were moving on boda-bodas.
In response, the President advised citizens that once they see suspicious boda bodas riding behind them, they should “stop and sort them out.”
The President’s statement has triggered a barrage of counter-reactions from various actors including Opposition leader Dr Besigye who branded the remark as “reckless” and “scandalous.”
Dr Besigye added that such reckless statements were least expected from a person of the President given that boda boda riders are all-over the country and wondered whether people with guns should go on a shooting spree of everyone riding a boda-boda behind them.
“Somebody going by the title of the President who is supposed to be in charge of all the security organs and for that kind of person to say that if you see a boda-boda following you, stop and if you have guns sort them out. I mean this is horrific, horrifying.” Dr Besigye said yesterday shortly after appearing in Nakawa Court over his ongoing treason case.
“…There are boda-bodas everywhere and everybody is followed by boda bodas, so if people stop and shoot those boda-boda riders and later find outthat they didn’t have guns, will they be prosecuted for having killed people?” Besigye wondered.
He said Museveni’s remark is beyond sheer inciting of mob justice.
“It’s not even inciting mob injustice but it’s outrightly scandalous. They are reckless statements to come from somebody that is still drawing a salary of an officer who is supposed to be in charge of the security in the country,” Besigye charged.
Weighing in on the same, Human Rights activist Nicholas Opiyo warned that if the government acts like it has done in the past assassinations, the security agencies will not catch the criminals who killed officer Kaweesi and his subordinates.
“We must be restraint, measured and diligent even when we mourn. Statements of leaders have a bearing on the actions of many. So things such as ‘get out of your car and deal with them’ is both reckless and amounts to incitement of violence – simply irresponsible.” Mr Opiyo stated on his Facebook wall.
Speaking to Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday, Makerere University lecturer Kabumba Busingye said the criminal law provides for self-defence but cautioned that the means used must be necessary and proportional to the danger.
“While Ugandans can defend themselves, this can’t be by way of blanket call vigilantism and any other actions which go beyond the scope of legitimate self defence, can lead to situations of anarchy and lawlessness,” Dr Kabumba warned.
The president of Uganda Law Society, Mr Francis Gimara, also criticised Mr Museveni’s remark and warned that people should not take the law into their hands nor be encouraged to repeat the same criminals acts like the Kaweesi killers committed. Mr Gimara said the rational measure to take is to regulate the boda-boda industry to weed out criminals.
Another Human Rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi said the lawlessness should be fought from within the Justice, Law and Order Sector organs.
Alleastafrica and Daily Monitor