Toolit, Ugandan Election Challenger Could Be Killed For Doing The Right Thing

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Toolit left and Oulanyah. Source: www.monitor.co.ug

[Commentary]

While Forum for Democratic Change candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye, now sworn in as president on May 11 has correctly been the news focus, there is another unfolding story that could have grave consequences for its victim.

Simon Toolit Akecha is an ex-Member of Parliament and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) parliamentary candidate for Omoro County, in Gulu, in the recently concluded 18th Feb, 2016 Ugandan election.

Toolit was reportedly kidnapped at 3 am in the morning,  on the 26th of May 2016 by four unknown gunmen. The witness to this heinous crime was his own son who was bundled into a room and tied up under gunpoint at the time the security officials picked up his father. The son is reportedly traumatized after witnessing the abduction.

What is Simon Toolit Akecha's crime?

Toolit and Jacob Oulanyah are longtime political rivals. The state machinery under the Gen. Yoweri Museveni regime has been deployed to preserve Oulanyah from the humiliation of having to appear in court to defend himself against allegations that he stole the Parliamentary seat and that he did not win the election.

It's no secret that Gen. Museveni wants Oulanyah in Parliament by any means. As Deputy Speaker and one of the most loyal Museveni supporters he is expected to do his bidding.

One of Museveni's priorities is to remove age-limit so he can run again in five years in case his son cannot inherit power. 

Toolit, however, is contesting the controversial announcement that the ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Oulanyah was the winner. Toolit was leading in the provisional results by the time the presiding officer halted the election exercise to declare Oulanyah the "winner."

Toolit challenged the declaration by filing a case against Oulanyah and the Badru Kiggundu chaired Electoral Commission (EC) in which he claimed he was robbed of victory. The petition asks the court to nullify the results of the elections.

Toolit has been under intense pressure from the state to drop his petition against Oulanyah, now, recently "elected" Deputy speaker of parliament.

The state through its agents reportedly unsuccessfully tried to entice Toolit with a 1.5 billion Ugandan shillings --about $429,000-- bribe in favor of him dropping the case, in addition to a job as a commissioner with Uganda Revenue Authority ( URA).

Toolit who considers himself the legitimate winner refused to be compromised by the state and proceeded with the case.
Now his life could be at risk for being a man of principles.On the first hearing of the petition on 18th of May before Justice David Matovu in Gulu high court, Oulanyah and his defense team who were duly served with summons acted in contempt of court by failing to show up to respond to the case filed against him. This prompted the judge to adjourn the case to the 26th of May 2016.

Not by coincidence, on the night before the second scheduled hearing, Toolit was abducted from his family home in Pece division, Gulu Town.Information from security circles is that Toolit is being kept in an undesignated detention facility in summit view, Kololo, an upscale residential area in Kampala, the capital city, now under the military control of the Special Forces Command (SFC) under Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba,  Museveni's son.

The SFC operates independently from the national army the Uganda people’s defense forces (UPDF). Within the SFC, there are Para-legal wings in charge of investigations and counterintelligence that operate outside the ambits of the law.

These units have powers to arbitrarily arrest, abduct, kidnap and detain political opponents of the regime without trial. During the elections of 18th Feb 2016 when the dictatorial regime was sensing that the provisional results were tilting towards Dr. Kizza Besigye, they came in and hijacked the whole electoral process right from the district tally center to the national tally center; the SFC guards were visibly seen manning all elections related systems and other activities.

SFC units took full command of Namboole tally center by ordering all the opposition poll observers out of their observation stations. The SFC also switched off all the results electronic transmission system and took absolute control of the process by transmitting doctored results to the Electoral commission from the 18th Feb-2016 until the 30th of March 2016.

The SFC units were also disbursed to all the countryside’s to work with the Museveni watch dogs units of Resident district commissioners (RDC) District internal security officers (DISO) Gombolola internal security officers (GISO) and Parish internal security officers (PISO). Their operation was to confiscate and destroy all evidence that would incriminate them in the electoral tampering.

All polling agents of the opposition suspected of being in possession of these materials were rounded up and ordered to surrender the declaration forms under gun point and the majority of them were detained without charge for over 14 days.

To further obstruct justice the SFC also laid a siege on the headquarters of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) the main contenders of the general elections.

The SFC with the support of Uganda police confiscated all electronic devices and data including from members of staff from these offices with the purpose of sabotaging the compilation of evidence to challenge the elections' declaration. Due to his "good" work, Muhoozi has now been promoted to general of the army. He can now sit on the military high command and await succession.

Meanwhile Toolit, who just wants what is rightfully the mandate given to him by voters, could risk losing his life for doing the right thing, legally, through a court of law -- challenging fraudulent results.

 

Editor's Note: If you have a relative, loved one, or friend who's also been abducted by state security agents please send detailed information with background to mallimadi@mail.com.

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