NUP News

Kibalama’s martyrs day abduction marks 5 years

On the morning of June 3rd, 2019, John Bosco Kibalama an accountant by profession, resident of Gayaza and a Masters student at Makerere University woke up to go about his routine errands. He was flagged off by his wife and children whom he promised to return to with the day’s bread. When he turned his back to exit his house in his Toyota Prado TX vehicle, this day would turn out to be his possible final goodbye to his beloved ones. None had anticipated that the Busiro North MP hopeful who had expressed his overt affiliation to the People Power movement would make a journey of no return.

The day that followed on, his vehicle and belongings were found intact by police abandoned along Mpererwe-Gayaza Road but him as the occupant was no where to be seen. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years, yet every other sunrise brought in chilling silence. The loud silence from authorities prompted the family and friends to have so many questions that remain lingering like a haunting melody.

His disappearance came at a time when the regime was picking up our comrades from their homes and taking them to designated safe houses that the probing tenth parliament human rights committee would eventually be blocked from accessing. This was a time when vocal regime critics were being snatched off the streets and taken to safe houses.

Kibalama’s abduction on Martyrs day is quite telling given the significance of this day that is marked on the national calendar to remember the faithful who paid a price with their dear lives for what they consciously believed in.

In a 2019 interview with The Observer, Muhammad Kavuma, the LC-I chairman of Nampunge village, Kakiri sub-county, Wakiso district –where Kibalama was born and groomed from gave his account and analysis of what could have influenced the abduction of Kibalama.

Kavuma said that a few months into his political consultations for the Busiro North seat, Kibalama started receiving strange calls from people he didn’t know, warning him to stay away from the constituency. The calls became more ominous after the violent August 15, 2018 Arua by-election in which he and People Power led by Robert Kyaguanyi aka Bobi Wine helped propel Kassiano Ezati Wadri to parliament.

“He had dedicated his time and resources to People Power activities. There is no place that Bobi Wine went to that he didn’t go. We can’t for sure say that it is his political activities that influenced his kidnap but what we can confirm is that he had no any known enemy who would be interested in his disappearance,” Kavuma said.

“They (abductors) didn’t take anything from the car. His wife Monica Nabukeera drove the car home and waited to hear a call for ransom but no-one called till this day. We are extremely worried about his life. We don’t know who kidnapped him or what they want,” Kavuma said. A case file was opened up at the nearby Nakanyonyi police station under file number SD/02/04/06/2019.

“There is no security office we have not been to. We went to Kampala Central police station, and they told us they don’t have him. We went to the Special Branch at Kireka and they checked and also told us, they don’t have him. We have been to CMI [Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence], ISO [Internal Security Organization], they all said they don’t have him. We don’t know where else to go,” Kavuma said.

Comrade Kibalama’s children

As Kibalama marks his fifth year with no trace of him, the regime Prime Minister Rt. Hon Robinah Nabbanja went on record on February 2nd, 2023 and admitted in a startling interview to holding Kibalama in custody and attributed his ‘arrest’ to the spate of attacks on police stations that happened that year of 2023, yet Kibalama was reported missing way back in 2019. In her own words, Nabbanja said, “But we are fortunate that Kibalama was traced. He was arrested recently in October (year not specified) in a place called Kakiri, and he is one of those claimed to have killed police officers in Kiboga, Wakiso and other places,” she said in a February interview on the sidelines of parliament.

Triggered by the Nabbanja interview, Kibalama’s wife, Ms. Nabukeera Monica tried to reach out to the Prime Minister by telephone to ascertain where her husband was being held after all these years, but the PM watered down her efforts and instead stopped receiving her calls.

The Kibalama case has been followed up by our legal team which even lodged a case with the high court. All habeas corpus applications filed by our legal team and Kibalama family have been disregarded by the regime. His wife Monica Nabukeera and the children continue to grapple with fear at the tick of each second.

To date, about 18 known comrades whom we categorized as #TheMissing18 are nowhere to be seen. Eye witnesses who saw their abductions live under fear. The Uganda Human Rights Commission headed by Ms. Mariam Wangadya has also appeared complicit in these crimes of abduction by attempting to silence the families of our missing comrades. Most have confessed being approached by UHRC officials tasking them to negotiate for financial settlements to have the files closed.

But despite all this, the National Unity Platform will remain committed to demanding for the accountability of all the missing, and the perpetrators of impunity will be brought to book.

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