MPs Abiriga, Kamateka clash over inmates

MPs Abiriga, Kamateka Clash Over Inmates

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi

The Arua Municipal MP, Col. Ibrahim Abiriga has bitterly clashed with his boss, Jova Kamateka, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee over the plight of inmates in Arua government prison.

Kamateka, who also represents the Women of Mitoma district in Parliament, had the roughest time of her life on Wednesday during a visit to ascertain the conditions of Arua government prison together with the MPs sitting on the Human rights Committee including Abiriga.

The veteran soldier used the opportunity to accuse Kamateka of being ‘useless’ on claims that she is not doing enough in fighting for the rights of inmates.

Trouble started when some inmates told Abiriga that they are always being beaten by prison warders in cells of the prison which sits in Arua Municipality, a Constituency Abiriga represents in Parliament.

But when their representative, Emmanuel Omirambe presented the issues affecting inmates to the committee members, he didn’t include the said allegation in the report.

Similarly, the Prison authorities denied the allegation, saying it was just brought up to incite inmates to rise against their operations.

However, for Abiriga, the report he got from individual inmates was enough to believe in what they were saying.

He continued to attack Kamateka in person accusing her of not taking the cry of the prisoners seriously.

“You are a useless chairperson. How can you always bring MPs here and fail to act on issues affecting the prisoners?” Abiriga asked Kamateka.

“You came here last year and did nothing. Now you have come here again, I’m sure, nothing will be done and that is why I believe our field visits here are useless,” Abiriga stated.

The situation worsened when Kamateka told off Abiriga that “What did you do to them (inmates) when you were here as an RDC of Arua?”

It was at this moment that Abiriga lost his cool to the extent of threatening to fight Kamateka and any prisoner warder that came his way until the prison gate was opened for his to go out.

As a result, he refused to board the committee van and instead traveled in Arua deputy RDC, Swaib Toko’s car to Desert Breeze hotel where the MPs hard a stake holders’ meeting on their findings.

Among the findings, the inmates raised concerns of congestion with over 900 prisoners being accommodated in a structure meant for 250 inmates, poor sanitation, the plight of the young and old inmates as some of the issues they want the MPs to address expeditiously.