Uganda: 18 Years Later, Still No Answers in Death of Attorney General Ayume

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The late Francis Ayume. Photo: 

Harold Acemah

[Aluta Continua!]

Celebrating Ascension Day with joy and sorrow

In the Church calendar May 16, 2021 will be celebrated worldwide, with joy, as Ascension Day and marks 40 days after Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. It’s the day our Lord Jesus Christ returned to heaven after a successful completion of the mission God sent him to accomplish here on earth, a mission which took him three years. Jesus was only 33 years old when he was crucified and died on the cross at the hands of Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

 I tell you, any leader who cannot complete his mission in three or five or ten years, at the most, is a conman, a fraudster, incompetent and a pathological liar who is deceiving and taking God’s people for a ride.

On a very sad note, May 16 marks exactly 18 years since a dear friend and a great son of West Nile and Uganda, Francis Ayume, passed on in a mysterious motor vehicle accident on Masindi-Kampala road.  For me, and I believe for many Ugandans, the agony, pain and sorrow inflicted by that tragedy has not gone away.

I thank God for Ayume’s exemplary life, his family, his friendship and his Christian witness. I believe that God has received him in heaven where he will dwell forever in the communion of saints.

Francis Ayume was a gentleman and jolly good fellow whose trademark was a broad smile which said I am glad to see you. He was a friend, fellow Christian of the Church of Uganda, fellow Old Boy of Busoga College Mwiri, fellow West Niler and fellow citizen of Uganda.

Like me, Ayume believed firmly in the unity and solidarity of the people of West Nile and was against the fragmentation of our region into several tiny and useless districts which are not economically viable and only serve the political interests of mediocre politicians who seek to divide and rule wananchi indefinitely. Like me, Ayume was born in the 1940s when the entire West Nile region was one district and he would have preferred it that way.

May 16, 2004 found me at the Embassy of Uganda, Brussels, Belgium. Another friend, Mr Tom Buruku, called early in the morning to inform me of the tragic news. I was devastated and rendered powerless and speechless. I took a couple of days off to recover. My last encounter with Francis Ayume was on July 4, 2003 at a reception held at the US Embassy in Kampala to celebrate the 227th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the USA. I left Uganda soon after on assignment at the Embassy of Uganda, Brussels and returned in 2008.

Since May 2004, the relevant authorities of Uganda government have, to the best of my knowledge, not yet released a police report on the alleged accident in which the former Speaker of Parliament of Uganda and Attorney General lost his life, despite a promise made to this effect by then minister of Works, Transport and Communications, Engineer John Nasasira. The people of West Nile would appreciate the release of the said report. Better late than never!

In this regard, I would like to thank Mr Ssemuju Ibrahim Nganda for his Opinion published in The Weekly Observer of June 3, 2004 titled, “The mystery of Ayume’s death” which captures accurately the anxieties, mood, fears and contradictions surrounding that foul incident of May 16, 2004. The sentiments expressed are pertinent today, 18 years down the road. As Ssemuju lamented in his article, “So who will tell us the truth and what is the truth?” As Scripture teaches, only the truth will set us free!

What is the way forward vis-a-vis this tragedy which awaits closure? I urge MPs from West Nile to pursue this matter courageously and relentlessly to its logical conclusion. I request the Mayor of Arua City to name a street in honor of Francis Ayume. I urge wananchi to pray unceasingly to God for appropriate action and solution. I tell you, God listens to and answers petitions and prayers of His people.

I am reminded of what prophet Isaiah wrote a long time ago. “Say to those with fearful hearts; be strong, do not fear, your God will come. He will come with vengeance, with divine retribution. He will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:4 (NIV). Make no mistake God will soon save His people.

May the peace of God be with Mrs Elisabeth Ayume and the bereaved family!

Arua, Uganda.

May 8, 2021.

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