Citizens on social media have asked why the minister of defence in charge General Duties, Col Charles Okello Engola would deny that UPDF soldiers brutalised civilians during the return of MP Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, from the USA where he had gone for treatment.
Parliament last week summoned line Security Ministers together with the Commander of the Defence Forces, General David Muhoozi, over allegations of torture on civilians by the UPDF officers in the city on September 20.
The MPs demanded that the ministers and the commander of land forces, Maj. Gen Peter Elwelu who commandeered the operations during the return of the Kyadondo East Legislator must be present at the meeting.
When they finally appeared before the Parliamentary committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Wednesday (without Gen Elwelu), Engola said the army would not tolerate the hooliganism being generated by some politicians and their followers.
"The political situation of the country is generally stable. However, the growing tendency of hooliganism and violence among a section of some misguided youth who have formed various pressure groups remain a concern to national security. The UPDF will however continue supporting other security agencies to safeguard the constitutional order and ensure stability of the country," he said.
When MPs asked why UPDF brutalised journalists and civilians during the return of Bobi Wine, the minister said the pictures and videos that had been circulating in the media, were of an army in some country in West Africa.
He did not specify the country but the MPs insisted they had enough evidence and videos showing Ugandan army carrying sticks and brutalising Ugandans. After the video clip of Engola making those statements went around on social media, several netizens attacked the minister over what they described as lies.
Godber Tumushabe tweeted: “Who is this Charles Engola? If you cannot tell the truth about something that happened in broad daylight and recorded on camera, how can you be a Colonel of our nation's Defence Forces! Seriously! Who has bewitched our country?”
“Charles Engola should also be caned first to teach him a lesson,” tweeted Ochwo Amos.
Another person who goes by username, @kabuyeahmed, also said “State Min. for Defence, Charles Engola denied the unprofessional & brutal torturing of Journalists & unarmed civilians by @UPDFspokespersn & @PoliceUg saying photos & videos making rounds are from West Africa. Can you imagine!!
However, the army and Defence spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire was quick to defend the minister by issuing a statement which he said was a clarification on the remarks by the minister.
“We clarify that Hon.Charles Engola never denied misconduct of some soldiers towards journalists. He reported that investigations are ongoing. He clarified on fake news in respect to an earlier accident in Nansana. The photo displayed was of a soldier in West Africa and not UPDF,” said Brig Karemire.
Credit: Daily Monitor Reporter