Defence Minister admits army officers made mistakes in quelling Makerere protests
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on November 7, 2019
The Minister for Defence, Adolf Mwesigye has said the army is still investigating its officers who were involved in the brutalizing of students at Makerere University during the recent protests over tuition increment. Brig. Richard Karemire, the army spokesperson last week revealed that Capt. Richard Lubeere, the officer who was commanding the UPDF soldiers at Makerere had been arrested and detained at Makindye military police headquarters as an inquiry led by Lt. Col. Richard Okumu investigates him. Speaking to parliament on Wednesday, Mwesigye said the army involvement in the Makerere University affairs was made inevitable when Police sought their assistance to quell the protesting students. “By the time the strike at Makerere University started, Uganda Police Force sought for assistance from the UPDF and military police already had presence within the Makerere campus,” the defence minister said. The Minister, however, admitted there were “some errors” made by army officers but noted that they acted swiftly and withdrew them. “The UPDF leadership from its intelligence and other sources came to learn of errors by some individual members of the force who could have acted out of the rules of engagement normally issued by the assisted agency and this case, the Uganda Police Force,”Mwesigye said. He noted that consequently, the officers deployed at the university were withdrawn before their commander of the troops was arrested and detained as investigations into the matter are ongoing.
The Minister said findings from investigations which are in their advanced stages will guide the army leadership on the next course of action.
Sexual harassment claims
Following the nasty protest against the 15 per cent cumulative tuition policy approved by the university council last year, a combined security operation by both the police and the army launched an onslaught that saw a number of students arrested.
As the demonstration escalated, security personnel were seen forcing themselves into the university halls where a number of students were either severely beaten or arrested or both.
Videos that leaked showed the military forcing the students to undergo some drills as they were being wiped, gestures that attracted wide condemnation.
Some female students later came out to claim they were sexually harassed by the military when they raided their halls of residence.