By Umaru Kashaka
KAMPALA - Legislators on the committee of defence and internal affairs wrote a formal protest letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura after he failed to appear before them over issues relating to a Kanungu inferno.
An estimated 1,000 worshippers on March 17, 2000 – 14 years ago – gathered in a church building just outside Kanungu town and were burnt to cinders after they allegedly locked themselves in and set the building on fire.
The killings were blamed on a religious cult known as the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God led by Joseph Kibwetere.
The committee chaired by Mubende Woman MP Benny Namugwanya last Friday resolved to meet Kayihura on Monday to ascertain the timing, extent and outcomes of Police investigations, if any, into the inferno.
Kayihura was also expected to brief the committee on whether there were any cases reported to Police concerning the activities of Kibwetere’s church prior to the blaze and what actions were taken.
They also wanted to know from the Police boss the status of international arrest warrants, if any, for the culprits accused of masterminding the massacre.
However, in a verbal communication, the IGP requested the committee through the chairperson to reschedule the meeting to enable him come with all the information the committee needed.
Lawmakers however took exception to the failure by the IGP to write a letter to the committee explaining his nonappearance, noting that he had held the committee in contempt.
“Let’s treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves. We should not allow anyone to hold this committee in contempt. Why didn’t he write a letter to the committee that he is not going to appear so that we don’t waste time and fuel coming here for no business?” asked Bubulo East MP Simon Mulongo.
“The issue of Kibwetere has been in parliament for so long. The petitioners have been to almost every office over this matter and now we summon somebody and he does not appear to help us execute our mandate,” Emmanuel Eriaku from Kabelebyong County wondered.
The MPs also want the IGP on Wednesday this week to explain the recent actions of Police storming certain upcountry radio stations and stopping talk shows involving opposition leaders from taking place.
“The IGP also has to explain to us why the Police have been blocking the opposition from holding peaceful meetings about the need for electoral reforms. May be he has got a point, we need to know that because to me that is an attack on the Constitution and abuse of the public order law,” Muwanga noted.
The committee also intends to meet with President Yoweri Museveni over the judicial commission of inquiry he instituted following the massacre.
“The president is the only person who can enable us access the report because he is the one who put in place this commission to investigate the Kanungu fire,” said Namugwanya.
“We are trying our best to reach him and fix the appointment before compiling our report.”