President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni with Japanes Prince Akishino and wife Princess Kiko at State House
By Hon Hillary Onek, Minister of Internal Affairs
1. When someone dies in suspicious circumstances like Hon Nebanda Cerinah did, the correct thing to do by the authorized investigators of the State is to suspect all persons that had contact with the deceased. These could include friends, associates and any known or perceived enemies. That is why by both common sense and by force of law- its deemed wise to use the Professional Government body to own and take up the investigations. And this is the police and nothing else as provided for in article 212 for this mandate.
Other Agencies or parties may be involved to help the police but not to replace its functions. The police has a well laid down procedure to follow in carrying out these investigations and its professional mandate is well provided for in article 211
Therefore, any other interested party be it close or distant associates wanting to participate in the investigations in one way or another, must work with the police in a manner that does not Jeopardize the investigations.
2. Chloronology of actions taken since the death of Hon. Cerina Nebanda
Police should be commended for moving swiftly to commence investigations in this matter. Within the first night, Police had secured the scene of crime.
- On the 14th December 2012 at around 19.30 hours, Police was informed of the sudden death of Hon. Nebanda .
- Immediately the Inspector General of Police and other officers rushed to the scene at Mukwaya General Clinic in Nsambya.
- There were a number of people including Members of Parliament, relatives and friends at the scene.
- The scene was taken over by the Police Scene of Crime Officers
- A Police pathologist Dr. Moses Byaruhanga was called to take charge of the body while at the scene at Mukwaya Clinic in preparation for post mortem the following day. The body was packed in a body bag and taken to Mulago School and kept in the Department of Anatomy and stayed there overnight.
- Police deployed at the Hospital to maintain security
- Police requested for Post mortem from Mulago hospital using Police form 48 and was carried out on Saturday 15th December 2012.
- The post mortem team was headed by Professor Wabingwa the head of pathology at Mulago hospital. It included DR byaruhanga Police pathologist, Dr kalungi and Dr Onziwuwa all of them staff of Mulago pathology department.
- Meanwhile, many members of parliament had gathered outside the mortuary demanding to access the examination and post mortem room and threatening to reject the body and results if post mortem was done in their absence. Though this was irregular and unknown to police practice on strict handling of exhibits, the Police Pathologist out of Political Pressure succumbed to the MPs demands and allowed three of them to the examination room as observers and not pathologists. These were, Hon Dr Baryomunsi, Hon Dr Bitekyerezo and Hon Dr Sam Lyomoki.
- During the post mortem samples were taken, sealed and escorted to Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) and handed over in accordance with laid down procedure. There three observer MPs voluntarily escorted the samples up to the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL).
- To the surprise of the Police,on Sunday, 16th December 2012 Hon. Dr. Baryamunsi made a press statement that they were sending samples to South Africa and the results would be out in three days. This captured the attention of the Police.
- On the 17th of December, both the Inspector general of Police and CID director, contacted Hon. Baryomunsi on phone asking him about the said sample that he was intending to take to south Africa, how he had accessed it and whether it had been got from the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL). He confirmed that they had another set of sample but declined to explain how he had accessed it. Police expressed its concern and strongly cautioned him against interfering in Police work. In response he threatened the IGP that he would expose him in the Press and reject the whole process. This behavior alone raised a lot of suspicion to the Police. Since the matter could not be concluded on phone, Baryomunsi suggested to the IGP for a meeting later in the evening to discuss further together with other colleague MPs of his. IGP accepted to have the meeting but warned Hon Chris against bringing MPs who only come to threaten and not discuss soberly.
- In the mean time, Police asked the Executive director of Mulago whether he knew that another set of samples other than the ones taken to Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) had been drawn and taken out. He denied any knowledge.
- In a related matter Police got information from the Police pathologist Dr Byaruhanga, that he had been informed by the Mortuary attendant, a one Detective Sergent Aluma that he saw Dr silvester Onzivuwa, (who had been part of the Pathology post mortem team and specifically assigned to cut sample specimens and distribute them into the various containers before sealing), taking some samples out of the Mortuary. That when Sergent Aluma asked Dr Onzivuwa about where he was taking the other samples he replied that he was taking them to their pathology department for internal study and use. This was a strange revelation to the Police and raised more suspicion. The behavior of Dr Onzivuwa in that regard became highly suspicious.
- Later on Monday 17th December 2012, a meeting was held in the office of the Director of Mulago Hospital between the Dr. Byaruhanga, Professor Wabingwa and two other Doctors who attended the post mortem, Dr. Onzivua, the director CIID and the Deputy Director Investigations were Present. The team asked Dr onzivuwa how he had accessed another set of samples without their knowledge and where it was being kept.
- Dr. Onzivua informed the meeting that indeed he had the samples and he had removed them during post mortem on the instructions of Hon. Dr. Baryomunsi and Hon. Dr. Lyomoki for taking to South Africa for independent analysis. He refused to hand over and declare to the meeting the whereabouts of the samples and the conditions of their custody which was among many other concerns a serious issue to Police in as far as management of the chain of evidence is concerned. Dr Onzivuwa instead told the meeting to contact the MPs if they wanted anything about the samples in question. This was yet another strange revelation of how a pathologist consultant who had been put on the post mortem team by virtue of his work at the hospital, could now claim to have worked covertly under the instructions not of his senior- the team leader Prof Wabingwa and the head of pathology but that of third parties who were mere observers. Why that sinister and clandestine behavior? Automatically, this made Dr Ozivuwa and his alleged instructors serious suspects. Their whole motive remains unclear to the Police and government. Is this the transparency the MPs were clamoring for?
- After the meeting and given the exhibited suspicious behavior of Dr onzivuwa Police CID director handed him over to the Deputy Director of CID for a statement. He stubbornly refused to record the statement, he instead wrote a letter seeking advice from the director CID on the request by members of Parliament to take samples to South Africa.
- In the evening of the same Monday, a meeting which Hon DR Baryomunsi had requested with the IGP was convened. The IGP was unable to attend it because of other engagements. But he delegated the Director CID to represent him. It was attended by five members of Parliament (as the majority) namely Dr. Baryomunsi, Hon. Bitekyerezo Medard, Dr. Hon. Lyomoki, Hon. Katuntu, Hon. Bahati, Ag. Commissioner GAL, Police CIID Director, Executive Director Mulago Hospital. Dr. Onzivua who had also been invited was suspiciously absent.
- Hon Dr Baryomunsi designated himself Chairman of the meeting, dominated the meeting, narrated all he had discussed with IGP on phone and strongly stated their condition of taking samples to South Africa. CID director and Government chemist objected to the manner in which a separate sample had been obtained secretly without the knowledge of the Police, and management of Mulago hospital as well as using the staff of the hospital in a manner contrary to laid down administrative procedure. CID director also objected to any samples going out or being handled in a manner not supervised by the Police.
- The CID director and Government chemist further told the meeting that since some other samples were in their custody they needed to handover to the Government analytical laboratory and fill police form 17a, which is the standard form used to detail the type of exhibits and specific analysis required. Another suggestion by the Government Chemist was that even if Dr Onzivuwa was to be permitted to go to south africa, he should go escorted by the Police and an analyst from the the Government analytical laboratory. The MPs rejected this idea. The police wondered what their intention was? The MPs later booed the CID director and the meeting ended in disagreement. Yet again, this behavior worried the police and wondered why the MPs were maneuvering in a non transparent manner yet they were claiming to be pushing for transparency.
- The Director CID expressed also in the meeting the concern of the Police about some MPs purporting to represent the institution of Parliament, yet no communication had ever been received from the management of parliament, be it from the RT Hon Speaker or the Clerk to Parliament requesting for the involvement of Parliament or its members in the investigations, which would also be unprecedented. In the same meeting the MPs said that Parliament was not interested in Prosecution but to only do an independent investigation for their own consumption. Hon Katuntu, repeated the same on the floor of parliament and it’s on hansard. This again was very strange to the Police and government as to why Parliament, the third arm of government would not be interested in the prosecution of the alleged killers of the late Hon Nebanda, if any. How then would they want justice to be done? If they are not seeking Justice what else as they seeking? So one wonders whether, the views of the MPs were their own or that of Parliament as an institution?
- Finally, Police discovered that Dr. Onzivuwa had ignored all Police warnings and went ahead to smuggle out the samples to South Africa. He was eventually arrested at the airport. Police had all the causes and justification to arrest him.
- The actions of Dr. Onzivua of insisting to take the samples were irregular since:-
ii. There is no written communication from the Speaker of Parliament to request him to take these samples. He is not a Speaker of Parliament to write on behalf.
iii. The Prime Minister who authorizes all government workers to travel abroad had not allowed him and his office was not aware.
iv. The alleged Permission from the Director general of health was just an internal clearance from the ministry of health where Onzivuwa works and was to be the basis for seeking permission from the Rt Hon Prime minster. Besides, Dr Aceng of the ministry of health had not been party to all the above processes and was not aware of the controversy and irregular behavior surrounding Dr Onzivuwa.
Why politicize the matter?
Government is extremely concerned and indeed much more suspicious at the way some political leaders are quickly turning the matter into a Political Contest, interfering with Professional Process of investigation and using the press to peddle a malicious campaign. Could this be some deliberate cover up? Could some of them be having some clues that they are trying to hide through diversionary Political attacks on government? This is a matter government cannot let go. All suspicious behavior will be investigated irrespective of whether one is an MP, high ranking or low.
4. WAY FORWARD
Government is committed to complete the investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of Hon. Nebanda with a view to establish the truth. The Government reiterates its condolences to the family, relatives and the people of Butaleja upon the demise of Hon. Nebanda. Indeed Government has extended its contribution in meeting the burial expenses.
As far as the burial of the late Hon. Nebanda is concerned, Government will respect the decision of the family on the date and procedure of the burial arrangement.
Hon Hillary Onek, Minister of Internal Affairs