By Davis Buyondo
LYANTONDE town – Local police are holding three leaders of a ‘cult movement’ for reportedly discouraging their followers from participating in the ongoing national identity card registration exercise.
During an undercover operation, detectives arrested Thomas Tumwesigye, 51, Francis Tumugyemwa, who is 40 and 43-year-old Charles Bitwirwe from their residences in Kabundabunda village in Mpumudde sub-county on Wednesday.
The three men said to be part of a mysterious cult movement that has been covertly moving around Lyantonde, Lwengo, Sembabule and other areas in the Greater Masaka region sabotaging the exercise.
Thomas Keith Eyaku, the district police commander, confirmed their arrest, saying the self-proclaimed bishops are being interrogated to establish the actual motive behind their practice.
He told New Vision that they have been looking for the trio and their counterparts still at large for discouraging their flock from participating in the national ID registration exercise for over four months.
The suspects, he said, will be forced to register before appearing in court for sabotaging government programs in different districts.
The detention of the three leaders follows an order from Sulaiman Rutuguragara Matojo, the Lyantonde resident district commissioner (RDC) who said their practices had greatly interfered with the registration process.
The three men say they rejected the ID registration exercise because it involves numbers. PHOTO/Davis Buyondo
Each of the accused ‘bishops’ is reportedly said to have more than 1,000 followers in the Greater Masaka region which puts their total estimates at over 3,000 believers.
They indeed admitted their actions, saying their faith prohibits them from using anything to do with numbers.
One of them, citing the Bible – Revelation 13:16-17 – said he asked his followers to reject the ID exercise because it involves numbers. And it was from this biblical allusion that he said “we are afraid to register for such illuminati symbols”.
He went on to say that his faith does not also allow them to associate themselves with things of the modern times such as sending their children to school, medical attention, using computers, carrying mobile phones and others.
Two weeks ago, police in Sembabule district arrested two Triple Six cult leaders for sabotaging the same exercise. They were Nathan Muliisa and his deputy Peter Kaisinga.
Just like in the latest arrests, these two were arrested in Ntusi for preaching against the national ID registration exercise which is taking part across the country.
For their case, the district RPC Joseph Ssekabiito said the security committee had resolved to hunt for Muliisa and Kaisinga after their followers revealed that they had been ordered not to register for the IDs.
Following their apprehension, the two men have been barred from preaching in Ssembabule because they are not registered as religious leaders.
Internal affairs minister Aronda Nyakiyirima said cultism is one of the biggest challenges affecting the national ID project, with Lyantonde district having thousands of unregistered residents less than 30 days to the deadline.