Speaker of Parliament of Hon Jacob Oulanyah has cautioned government security agencies against flouting existing laws and procedures when handling Members of Parliament.
Oulanyah, who said he was “upset” by the manner in which two opposition MPs were arrested after being granted bail recently, warned security forces that MPs cannot be treated with such impertinence.
He further warned that MPs cannot be arrested by junior police or army officers, in the same way that high ranking security officials can’t be arrested by their juniors.
“These provisions of the law are not just decorations, they are for a purpose,” Oulanyah said on Wednesday.
“Ordinarily even if you are to arrest a Member of Parliament, it should not be junior officers. It should not be constables and things like that. It should be officers of a certain rank who should arrest a member of parliament.”
“Like if you are sending some soldiers, God forbid, to bring Gen (David) Muhoozi), you are not going to send military police with no ranks. You will send a person who will say ‘General, we are here, we have to go.’ So that there is that rapport and respect for the office and title,” he said.
The lower ranking officers on the other hand, Oulanyah said, “don’t know the rules, and even if they know them, sometimes they exceed the limit.”
In both yesterday’s and today’s plenary sittings, the Speaker lambasted the Police for the manner in which they rearrested MPs Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, without notifying his office as legally required.
The prerequisite notification, he said, is necessary to ensure that an MP is arrested with dignity.
“If (necessary) I myself can even drive a member to the CID and come back. When you inform me, I will call the MP, and they will go and report to the police and if there is need for detention, that can follow from there.”
“But the way this was handled Gen Muhoozi, it was not right. I have seen the video clips; it was not right…I was very, very upset. It shouldn’t be happening.”
Oulanyah’s remarks followed a concern raised by former Minister for Presidency and Luuka District Woman MP Hon Esther Mbayo, who told the house that she was illegally summoned at the Police CID Offices recently.
Hon Mbayo says she had traveled out of the country about week ago, when she received a call by an officer summoning her to appear in Kibuli.
“In my wisdom I told him to summon me through my boss the speaker of parliament, but he responded that this was a system which was, but is now not respected (anymore).” she said.
The former minister went on to wonder whether the police officers in the country are aware of the laws they are enforcing.
However, Speaker Oulanyah clarified later that he eventually received a summons letter for Hon Mbayo and that he communicated back to the Police that she was out of the country.
“I told them to reissue the summon, but up to now they have not and the Honorable Mbayo has not been able to go and record a statement.