The deployment of armed security personnel at the airport, in and around Entebbe and Kampala demonstrated their inclination to use brute might over righ.”
Nicholas Opio Opio to prevail upon the MP to cooperate with the police, while deputy Inspector General of Police Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi led operations in Entebbe in collaboration with the Chief of Defence Forces and heads of intelligence agencies.
Ms Akullo asked Mr Opio to travel to Entebbe but sources said she kept interrupting their meeting at her office to make and receive calls with apparent updates and new instructions. Mr Opio is reported to have rebuffed the pleas and only went to Entebbe after he received a call from the female MP who put on speakerphone instructions she was giving to a top police officer to grant Mr Opio access to the airport.
Sources say, Mr Opio then drove to the airport and was allowed through the many road blocks partly because he was smartly dressed and security might have assumed he was simply a passenger trying to get to the airport or because word had been shared to let him through.
At the airport, Mr Opio succeeded in talking to Bobi Wine by telephone, advising him to be mindful of his weak state of health and the heavy deployment outside. Mr Opio is said to have then headed straight to the VIP lounge where he was shortly called by Assistant Commissioner of Police James Ruhweza. Initially, Mr Opio declined to move to the Entebbe Aviation Police station preferring that the meeting take place at the airport, but he later agreed and was taken by a police pick-up to the station. In 2005, on return from self imposed exile, four-time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye was allowed unfettered movement with a large procession from Entebbe to Kampala. His convoy closed the only access to the country’s airport for several hours but also showed the massive support he
Mr Opio did not find Mr Ruhweza at the police station. In the meantime, Bobi Wine, who arrived on flight KQ412, had been picked up from the tarmac and whisked away through the Old Airport, suggesting security forces were operating with more than one plan.
Mr Opio declined to confirm this detailed account of his involvement, only giving general comments about his client’s treatment.
“The deployment of armed security personnel at the airport, in and around Entebbe and Kampala demonstrated their inclination to use brute might over right. Police statements a day before his arrival made no attempt to hide their disdain for Bobi’s and his supporter’s rights to peaceful assembly,” he said.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said Bobi’s private return plans, which included being received not by family but “colleague leaders and artists,” a visit to his mother in Najjanankumbi, lunch with family in Kamwokya before heading to his home in Magere were thwarted because “that was enjoyed. Since them, his every movement has been closely monitored. Police have in several occasion blocked him from leaving his home in Kampala. Police also arrested Dr Besigye when he attempted to mobilise Ugandans to Walk to Work demonstrations against the rise in cost of living. bound to cause us trouble with processions and assemblies that were unplanned and unregulated.”
Mr Opio said, “In the circumstances, Bobi was unable to even assert his basic right. He was yanked from plane still on the tarmac, out into a police car and driven in a convoy of military and police cars to his home. His family members and lawyers as well as fellow MPS were blocked from receiving him at the airport, our attempts to reach out to the authorities to respect Bobi’s rights and ensure his free movement were futile. It was clear to us that the command chains of this operation were opaque and unwilling to engage except on their own terms.”
Mr Kayima said the whole operation was down to, “engagement, positivity and what else, luck!” He is however keen to avoid the darker sides, the arrest and brutality against journalists, some of whom were kept at various police facilities for hours and their equipment confiscated.