By Our Reporter – Nigerian government denied reports that President Goodluck Jonathan convoy was stoned at on his way to Entebbe International Airport, 40 kilometers south of capital Kampala.
President Jonathan’s Spokesman, Ima Niboro, is quoted by the Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust implying that there was no attack on the presidential convoy. “There was no attack on the president [Jonathan] in Uganda,” the newspaper quotes, the spokesman. Mr. Niboro added: “We only passed by opposition elements whose leader returned to Uganda today, during a peaceful procession on our way to the airport.”
The reaction followed a comment made by the Executive Director of the Uganda government’s media centre, Fred Opolot. Mr. Oplot had told the Reuters that: “The car belonging to Goodluck Jonathan was stoned by mobs. The security shot around the area, and one person was shot dead.”
“Unfortunately, a (motorcyclist) who was crossing (near) the president’s car was shot dead. The security forces mostly used rubber bullets. But he really posed a threat to a foreign dignitary who happened to be a head of state,” the Reuters quoted Mr. Opolot.
Mr Opolot was defending the Ugandan police brutality that fired into unarmed crowd of opposition party supporters who were welcoming Dr. Kiiza Besigye back in the country in which one person was reported killed on spot, although others sources put the number killed to five.
The Nigerian leader Goodluck was among the heads of states that turned-up for the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni, in Kampala.
President Museveni, who has been ruling the country for 25 years, and was sworn in for a fourth term in office on Thursday, May 12, after winning February 18th, presidential elections widely perceived as rigged polls.
Ever since the Uganda’s opposition leaders started a Walk to Work protest against including Dr. Besigye have led a series of often violent protests against high food and fuel prices have erupted and innocent people ranging to more than 10 people have lost their live in the hands of Museveni’s security forces.
On Thursday, Besigye’s followers disagreed with police as the crowd that was ushering in the opposition leader from Entebbe airport 40 Kilometres south of capital Kampala. Earlier in the day, Besigye and his wife Winnie stood up through the sun-roof of their car and waved to several thousand ululating supporters.
The crowds made V-for-victory signs amid a heavy security presence along the 40 km road leading to the capital Kampala, where the inauguration was taking place.
“President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria’s convoy was attacked by Doctor Besigye’s supporters as it was heading to Entebbe State House for the luncheon with the President,” said Fred Opolot, director of the government media centre.
Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakoba said crowds threw stones and pulled mirrors from cars ferrying dignitaries back to the airport after the ceremony.
Besigye, who was Museveni’s personal physician during the bush war that brought him to power in 1986 and was also his main opponent in the last two elections, had pledged not to go to court to challenge the result this time.
According to the Daily Trust, the Permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi, said he was just hearing the story for the first time from our reporter. He declined comments, saying he cannot base his comments on hearsay.
This is not the first controversy since the brutal arrest of Dr. Besigye by plain clothed security operatives two weeks ago. Just after Dr. Besigye’s arrest, conflicting and controversial statements have been issued by the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Kirunda Kiveijinja, Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Matia Kasaija and the Director of government Media Centre Opolot.
Both Min. Kiveijinja and Min. Kasaija defended Gilbert Ariatwe’s uncivilized actions to be lawful when he [Arinaitwe] spearheaded the forceful breaking of Dr. Besigye’s car. The ministers said that Dr. Besigye was threatening the police with the hammer, although TV cameras and Daily Monitor’s cameras captured a hooded man coming with the same hammer. Critics baptized this that possibly “Cameras only lie in Uganda”. Arinatwe has never been apprehended until today and even the identity of the hooded man remains a top secret in Museveni’s security circles.
Minister Kivejinja, instead said that the police was “within its constitutional mandate to restore law and order by disengaging crowds and is allowed by the law to shoot at people as the way of “preventing and detecting crime”. He also mocked the public that they should blame the death of people who have lost lives in the hand of police on “the British and the Americans who manufacture bullets”.
In another controversy surrounding Dr. Besigye when he was on Wednesday, denied boarding on KQ 410/11th May in a view of “intelligence” that a plane with Dr Besigye on board would not be allowed to land at Entebbe Airport.
Kenya lawmakers point the finger at their government for colluding with Uganda government to block Dr. Besigye from returning to Uganda.
But the Executive Director, Mr Fred Opolot, said the government does not control the planned activities of Kenya Airways, which is a private firm supervised by the Kenyan government. Even when the Kenya Airways authority issued a statement suggesting that they had received from the Ugandan government that the plane would not be allowed to land if it had Dr. Besigye on board.