Who Polices the State? The tragedy of using terror to wipe out unproven terrorists
During the days of Idi Amin, the State earned infamy for deploying extra-judicial killings to resolve purported crime.
Suspected criminals would be arrested and disappeared by security services never ever to be seen alive again.
Yet others would be hurriedly executed at equally hurriedly arranged, moreover, through grisly firing squads.
The fact that the State operatives had turned themselves into the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge all in one, is the reason why hundreds of thousands of innocent people ended up killed for no good reason but merely because the State had rendered absolutely hapless the arbiter arm of government.
Well, Amin was an erratic character, an idiot to quote some latter day holier– than– thou moralists.
His predecessor and later successors in Obote and the Lutwa have also been roundly dismissed by some moralists as having been absolute swines just as whoever is suspected to be a terrorist is sweepingly dismissed currently.
The above ‘purported’ leaders were going by the circumstances of their nature, at least expected to engage in mayhem or extrajudicial killings, for this matter, as a means of resolving conflicts that they would deem criminal in nature or otherwise.
Accordingly, when the Puritans led by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni jumped out of the bushes and marched into power, everybody thought–rather innocently–, the days of Amin’s and Obote’s extra judicial killings had dramatically ended and would never ever again creep back into the country.
Western leaders led the by former President Bill Clinton led the praises for ‘the new breed of African leaders’ as the ones who were best placed to lead to greater heights this dark side of the globe.
Even when the puritans fresh from the jungles encouraged Ugandans to tie and they themselves tied Kandoya ( three-piece excruciating torture style) before burning up former soldiers of the captured regimes, most people including from the civilized didn’t spare a thought to question what was afoot.
After all, the ‘Anyanyas’ as the Sudanese militias that Obote had hired from Sudan to help him fight off the insurgent Museveni rebels, were being roasted alive, had been summarily adjudged by the whole world and the freshest fantastic breed of leaders in town to be biologically terrible substances, and so, who rightly deserved to be subjected to summary killings!
And so, on that sad note, the country and the world at large would wave off the new Puritanical leaders to the world of the unknowns.
And therein partly lies the problem of the progressively degenerating extrajudicial killings as we know and witness them today.
Just before coming to power, the national resistance army(NRA) rebel leader, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni had encouraged the use of summary killings.
Museveni would summarily execute rebels deemed to have killed civilians or engaged in robbery, rape or any other heinous crime to the detriment to the of wanainchi.
He was doing this as a populist game out of the convenience of endearing his guerrilla warfare to the wanainchi in order to attract from them material, financial and human backing as well as favor which factors were crucial on the way of winning the ends of his struggle.
This is why while justifying the need to ban bail for heinous crimes during the celebrations to mark former Chief Justice Ben Magunda Kiwanuka, the president glowingly promoted summary justice he himself was using to resolve crime in the bush as the best justice for the victims of crime.
Museveni demonstrating the contempt he habors for bail for heinous crime, referenced the case of a certain Zebulon who, he said, killed fellow combatants.
In spite of the fact that the ‘westernized’ lawyers such as latter day Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi Katugugu had wanted Kaguta to subject Zebulon to a lighter sentence as opposed to a firing squad since he had killed under the influence of alcohol, the teetotaler in Museveni rejected such lugezigezi.
“If Zebulon had decided to turn himself into a jerrican of alcohol and ended up killing others there was no way I was going to let him off with a lighter sentence”, Museveni mused.
Museveni in his writings and oral narratives, has been unmistakably and vigorously pushing and, in fact, glorifying the Mosaic justice of an eye for an eye.
In many instances, he boasts of how he would during the bush violently visit terror on his opponents in government and within the security circles.
His ‘Sowing the Mustard Seed’ account is littered with names of government officials as well as names of security officials from the past he and his rebels put out of action during the military overtures spanning a period of close to fifty years now and counting.
Even while in government, Museveni has been boldly encouraging members of his security services to put out robbers and pigs in reference to murderers while admitting how his security services indeed summarily kill people deemed by the State to be dangerous.
Case in point, Museveni, after the shooting to death of more than fifty people who were accused of rioting last November against the arrest of then Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine heaped praise on security officers for the blood they had spilled.
He has despite the glaring admission and in demonstration of the contempt he habours for due process, never handed over the suspected murderers to courts of law to account for what they did.
Before then, Museveni who was running for his sixth term and who Bobi was giving a bloody nose, had warned the population to ‘kufanya ffujjo owone’ (dare engage in violence and face the music) and the dire warning ultimately came to pass!
After the shooting of Military General Edward Katumba Wamala, President Museveni unambiguously told the country and within the earshot of the chief justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo, that the security were going to shoot the ‘pigs’.
Security services led by the departed Police Chief, Gen. Paul Loketch indeed killed the suspects thereafter and life moved on without anyone cited for the summary murders.
Earlier on, boxer Zebra Ssenyange had been raided while in the comfort of his home in Bwaise and shot dead by the military.
Museveni acknowledged the fact that the military killed Zebra for ostensibly leaving his yellow camp for the National Unity Platform of Bobi Wine.
No one questioned the murder nor did Museveni hand over the killers who he acknowledged to know to the courts of law for appropriate action.
Even the Judiciary as if complicit would end up rendering a deaf ear as well as blind eye to the transgressions.
During his early days as President, many powerful leaders ended up being shot without any meaningful investigations carried out to get to the bottom of the murders.
Such outstanding politicians who were killed in similar fashion include Andrew Lutakome Kayiira, former Chief of Staff, Apon Acak, among others.
Its worthwhile pointing out the fact that the President has boasted many, many times how he is a Master of violence and therefore can’t be violently overcome.
It is accordingly imperative to point out the fact that to a man holding a hammer even a fly would appear like a six inch nail.
The summary execution of Sheikh Kirevu and many others in recent months, therefore mirrors the long and established tradition of the regime.
In the most recent incidents, and true to his tradition, the President’s narrative of Muslims being collaborators with the Allied Democratic Forces rebels, has been tolerated by the Ugandan society.
The killings have therefore become a well calculated move geared at eliminating political opponents and presumed criminals as opposed to resorting to the due process of rule of law.
That the world is faced by terrorism currently, –shadowy or otherwise–, would naturally give Museveni the blank check to even practice with more gusto his much cherished summary killings method of resolving crime and even matters that are clearly political.
And it can get only worse with the western world fearing to question the Museveni’s terror as long as he guards their commercial and security interests in the region.
The Judiciary has obviously committed a lot of injustice against Ugandans and the establishment as well just like Museveni and his goverinment has committed worse abuses against the wanainchi, but it doesn’t follow the two arms are completely useless.
Given that without due process, the innocent souls, just as it happened during Amin’s days ended up losing their lives amid the legal quagmire, it is only necessary to give a benefit of doubt as well as help strengthen the due process in order to be able to do a good job other than unleashing every clueless Sobi, Kitatta, Karazarwe and Agasirwe in the name of delivering justice.
Granted by shooting to death heinous crime suspects Amin claimed to have reduced crime. But the legal chaos he caused led to an even bigger tragedy of State operatives wiping out with impunity hundreds of innocent Ugandans under the guise of fighting crime.