By Francis Kagolo
The ministry of foreign affairs has said they do not have funds to return the remains of two Ugandan men executed in China over drug trafficking.
The ministry said today that Government does not offer funds for returning bodies of Ugandans who die from abroad.
Andrew Ham Ngobi, 39, and Omer Ddamulira were executed on June 25, in the city of Guangzhou over possession of cocaine worth $2.6m (about sh6.6b). Their bodies were later cremated.
Sources at the Uganda mission in Beijing said that at the time of arrest, Ddamulira was carrying 28kg of cocaine while Ngobi had 15kg.
Addressing the press in his office, the ministry publicist Fred Opolot said they do not have funds to return the remains of the two men because “financially it would be an extremely heavy burden” to budget for such incidents.
“That is why we are engaging the bereaved families very closely to ensure that they get back the remains of their people,” he said. There is an ongoing process to have bilateral agreements allowing transfer of prisoners between Uganda and China. Even then, Opolot also expressed pessimism whether the agreements would also cater for ‘extremely dangerous” offenders like drug traffickers.
He made the remarks after meeting Ngobi’s wife, Marriam Nabbanja, who spent hours at the ministry seeking for ways of returning the remains of her husband.
Nabbanja said Ngobi was a production manager in one of the local soda companies. He started travelling to China when his uncle (name withheld) introduced him a more lucrative business of importing clothes and supplying them in Kampala.
On his third trip, on the fateful Friday October 8, 2010, Ngobi did not return with his uncle. When he communicated with the wife on January 30, 2011, he said he had embarked on another job in China and that he was okay.
Nabbanja recounted spending close to nine months in 2011 without knowledge of Ngobi’s whereabouts until she inquired from the International Police (Interpol) in Kampala.
Having known Ngobi as a trouble-free man for three years, Nabbanja said she was “shocked” discovering from Interpol that her husband was arrested over drug trafficking.
Up till now, she is yet to be convinced that Ngobi was a drug trafficker.
“He loved me so much. He was a humble man. He had a job of a production manager in a big company. He had built a number of boys’ quarters on top of the family house. Then what more would he yearn for?” the woman wondered.
“Why didn’t they arrest him at the airport when he was entering if indeed he had cocaine?” she asked.
Besides the widow, Ngobi is survived by a 16-year-old daughter who is currently in Senior Three at Our Lady of Consolate Kireka secondary school.
“I used to work in the same company with him but when we got married he stopped me from working. He has been our bread winner,” Nabbanja said, cautioning Ugandan youth to go slow with the people promising them jobs abroad.