Parliament was yesterday compelled to briefly arrest the commandant of the Police Mineral Protection Unit, Ms Jessica Keigomba, for allegedly “telling lies” to a House committee.
Ms Keigomba had appeared before the Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Kiboga East MP Keefa Kiwanuka (NRM) to explain the eviction of artisans and small scale miners in Buhweju District that left more than 60,000 people homeless.
However, Ms Keigomba told the committee that there was no eviction, adding that residents simply fled the mines without being forced since they knew they were involved in illegal activity.
“We did not evict anyone from Buhweju but when people learned that we were around, they fled and left the place. Before that, we had gone there twice to sensitize the public and requested them to come to the ministry and acquire the right documentation,” she said.
However, Mr Kassiano Wadri (Arua Municipality, Ind) probed further saying: “Is the witness insinuating there was no eviction in Buhweju?”
“There is no eviction,” she replied. Earlier, the Minister of State for Energy, Mr Simon D’Ujanga, had told the committee that there was an eviction of illegal miners, and “only landowners, who were not involved in mining activities, would be allowed back to carry on with their livelihood in December.”
The committee members led by Mr Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju, FDC) and Ms Oliver Katwesigye (Buhweju, NRM) compelled the chairperson to hand over the officer to the authorities to record a clear statement detailing her personal account of incidents in the district.
Ms Keigomba was also accused of breaking an oath administered at the beginning of the session.
“We have a document signed by the minister, attesting to the eviction that happened. It is clear that this witness (Keigomba) is deceiving under oath,” Mr Mwijukye said.
Ms Katwesigye said: “We went to Buhweju and we know that people were given two hours to leave the mining area. When we went to the site, we found the police guarding the place, what were they guarding if they had not evicted people?”
But Ms Keigomba insisted: “My work was to prevent illegal mining and the people of Katenga were illegal miners, so I halted them, but we did not evict them.”
The committee vice chairperson, Mr Andrew Kaluya (Kigulu South, NRM) then demanded that action be taken.
“We promised the people of Buhweju that we are going to deliver justice to them, we cannot continue to entertain lies coming from officers who are supposed to have protected the people,” Mr Kaluya said.
Ms Keigomba was temporarily held at the CIID Department of Parliament and released after recording the statement.
Ms Annabel Nyinamahoro, the head of security at Parliament, executed the arrest, since she was the only officer of equal rank available.