Uganda’s Internal Affairs State Minister James Baba has dismissed claims of a letter bomb that was allegedly sent to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
Baba told Parliament on Thursday that the allegations of a letter bomb are not true saying that the letter did not contain any explosive materials.
Baba was briefing parliament on the preliminary results of the investigation into the letter bomb that was sent to Kadaga and that it caused facial injury to one Herman Kabogoza, the administrator in the speaker’s office who received it. The reports of the said letter bomb emerged on February 2 in the media.
Baba says the counter terrorism unit of the parliamentary police came immediately after the reports had circulated with sniffer dogs; radiation detector and explosive detectors which did not detect anything of an explosive or radioactive nature.
He added that the counter terrorism unit took the package to the government analytical laboratory for further analysis to identify the origin of the parcel. Police then went to the Post Office and were informed about the reception of similar nine packages including one that was addressed to the President.
Baba said that police received the packages and the one addressed to the President was tested alongside the one sent to the Speaker to ascertain whether or not the contents were harmful to human lives or whether the parcels were from the same source. He said that the results of the tests from the two packages are of similar nature and that they show traces of volatile organic components which are more likely to have come from ink. He noted that they did not contain explosives or materials of explosive nature, or radiation or biological chemicals commonly used in terrorism.
He said that the investigations showed that the two parcels came from the same address and that they were posted from P.O.B0x 7007, 3109AA which he says is in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Baba added that Kampala Hospital, where Kabogoza went for treatment said there was no physical trauma found on him. The minister said that Kabogoza was not satisfied with the opinion of Kampala Hospital and has sought medical assistance from Nairobi hospital which has not yet released its results.
But MPs did not accept the submissions of the minister saying that the fact that police waited for the issue to be raised in parliament to start investigations shows that they did not take the matter seriously. Kinkizi East MP Chris Baryomunsi asked the minister whether the government’s analytical laboratories have the capacity to assess and confirm that there is no evidence of bioterrorism materials in the envelopes.
He said that the kind of technology which is required to detect those materials is sophisticated and recalls how the laboratory failed to carry out the tests required during the post-mortem of the late former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda.
Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu said the report sounds shallow and wondered how the police can have a report when the investigations are not yet concluded. Dokolo County MP Felix Okot Ogong also questioned why the report presents one side of the story. He wonders why the police did not stretch its investigations to the other people that received the parcels to find out whether they got the same problems as Kabogoza or not.
Baba said that the other seven parcels were addressed to UBC Managing Director Paul Kihika, New Vision Editor in Chief Barbra Kaija, former FDC leader Kizza Besigye, UPC president Olara Otunnu, Minister Sam Kutesa, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Peter Werikhe.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah asked the minister to report to report back to Parliament in two weeks with a more detailed report.