Bigirimana says leading activist was not arrested
Publish Date: Jun 23, 2014
Bigirimana says leading activist was not arrested
The chief executive officer of FIDA-Uganda Irene Ovonji (right) and the chief executive officer of Nnabagereka Development Foundation Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe during a media briefing on the arrest of their colleague at FIDA-Uganda headquarters in Kampala. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
  • mail
  • img

By Francis Emorut

KAMPALA - The permanent secretary of the ministry of gender, labour and social development, Pius Bigirimana, has disepelled claims that a leading women activist was arrested on his orders.

He has also gone on to criticize women rights activists for being “redundant” over recent remarks they made over the alleged arrest of their colleague.

The PS made the remarks in response to accusations by the women activists who protested the reported arrest of Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) executive director, Rita Aciro on his orders, saying it was an act of intimidation.

According to activists, Aciro was arrested by the Police on orders of Bigirimana when she attended a meeting for United Nations Joint Programme on Gender Equality (UNJPGE) with gender officials.

When contacted for a comment, Bigirimana burst into laughter and said: “Those people [women activists] are redundant. They don’t have anything to do.”

He denied that Aciro was arrested.

“The truth of the matter is there was no arrest. There was no mishandling. It is a lie there was nobody who arrested her,” he told New Vision on phone.

The gender ministry PS argued that women activists were not in the meeting since he was the one chairing it and the director of gender and community development, Jane Mpagi, is the one who asked Aciro to vacate the meeting.

“When she came in I asked Mpagi who that woman (Aciro) was and whether she was invited. As the chairman of the steering committee I never invited her,” he said.

He explained that after the meeting he went to the office and chatted with Aciro and that she even apologized.

Bigirimana is alleged to have asked Aciro why she had come to ‘disorganize' the meeting and demanded her to apologize on the remarks made during a press conference last year denouncing his appointment.

‘Attack in personality’

“The permanent secretary questioned her presence at the meeting which she had been invited to. Her phone was taken away. During this time he expressed his grievance over a press conference held in May 2013 by the Women’s and youth movement as well as civil society organizations to denounce the appointment of persons implicated in corruption scandals to public offices,” Irene Ovonji, the chief executive officer FIDA-Uganda, said.

Gender ministry PS Pius Birigimana denies UWONET's Rita Aciro was arrested

The activists expressed their displeasure on the manner their own was reportedly arrested in what they termed as detention incommunicado.

“While detained Aciro could not make contact with her lawyer as requested since her phone had been taken away. In addition, the lawyers present from FIDA-Uganda to represent her at the ministry were denied access to her,” they said in a joint statement.

“We are dismayed when women’s movement raises issues of public concern it is seen as an attack on personality,” Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe said.

She said this was an attempt to silence women on critical issues affecting society.

Justus Rugambwa, the executive director of DENIVA, pointed out that the ghosts of OPM scandals were still following the gender ministry.

“What we are managing now are those ghosts. It’s the first time a public officer orders for an arrest of an individual. It’s a sad situation,” he said.

The activists expressed their concern during a media briefing in Kampala on Friday.

“An attack on one of us is a testament of continued narrowing of space on issues of democracy and governance,” said Patricia Munaabi, the executive director of Forum for Women in Democracy.

The activists demanded a written apology on the attack of women’s movement and urged the Police to refrain from being used for personal vendettas.

They also want government to take action on the abuse of office by public servants.

Aciro was released following the intervention of UWOPA chairperson Betty Amongi.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
National Teachers Day: Museveni
As you all know, Monday, 5th October, was the national teacher's day. Here in Kampala, at the Lugogo Cricket oval to be specific, a beaming President Museveni took his place as Guest of honor....
Educationists advise education ministry to decentralize medical boards
Education officers and Inspectors of Schools have asked the ministry of education to decentralize medical boards to effectively attend to terminally sick teachers....
Independence Day: As it happened
Relive the 53rd Independence Day anniversary main celebrations at Kaunda grounds in Gulu....
Museveni receives UNRA Commission report
President Yoweri Museveni has commended the tremendous work done by members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Uganda National Roads’ Authority (UNRA)....
UWEC unveils Letaba, Kibonge’s heir
It took time for many tourists at the Uganda Wild life Education Centre (UWEC) to notice what had happened at the lion's confine....
VP warns against hurried scrapping of death penalty
The Vice President EdwardSsekandi has said that abolishing death penalty for capital offenders needs sensitization so that the victims and those affected by such crimes and the community can appreciate such a move....
Should Makerere University fees policy be reviewed?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter