By Umar Kashaka
The father of the former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has said it is useless for the Police to investigate the claims that his son was poisoned.
“I first made the statement that my son was poisoned when we received news of his death (on March 20) and repeated that (claim) at his funeral (on April 8), but I didn’t say so-and-so poisoned him, so what are they investigating when I did not name any suspects? The probe is useless,” Nathan L’Okori said through a translator.
He made the remarks on Wednesday, April 13, while chatting with a Vision Group team at his residence in Ajuri village, Lalogi sub-county, Omoro district.
The 92-year-old, who was in an expansive mood, wondered why the Police should record a statement from him.
“They will not record a statement from me because I didn’t say so-and-so poisoned my son. And I don’t know who reported the case that my son was poisoned. Maybe those who reported the case are the ones who felt threatened by my remarks (at the funeral),” he said.
“The Police have not stepped here to record a statement from me and I will not allow them to do so if they decide to come here,” L’Okori, who said he is now in frail health, stressed.
He tried to remain composed throughout the conversation while trimming his sideburns using a shaver.
Museveni consoles L’Okori
L’Okori thanked President Yoweri Museveni for telephoning him to console him at the time Oulanyah died.
“The President called me and consoled me. He asked me to accept that the death of my son has occurred and remain strong,” he said.
L’Okori, however, declined to divulge the details of the President’s call.
“And what I told him (Museveni) is confidential, it is between me and him,” he said, thanking Museveni for bringing peace and stability to the country.
“We don’t want wars because they cause a lot of suffering, death and destruction of property,” he noted.
L’Okori stated that anyone who wants to succeed President Museveni should be able to maintain peace and stability in the country.
Oulanyah, who was also the Omoro County MP, died at the age of 56 in Seattle, US, where he had been flown for specialised medical treatment.
Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng quoted doctors at the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle, saying Oulanyah suffered multiple organ failure due to progressive, recurrent, diffuse large B cell non-Hopkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer of the lymphatic system.
She explained that Oulanyah’s death followed the failure of his liver, lungs, kidney and heart resulting from cancer, bacterial and viral infections, along with bleeding in the intestines.
Aceng told Parliament and the entire country that a missing spleen made matters worse for Oulanyah who has been described by many as an amiable man who treated others with respect.
Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, who replaced Oulanyah in an election held on March 25, blocked debate in Parliament on her predecessor’s poison claims, saying his death should not be politicised.
“We are not going to allow Oulanyah’s death to be politicised. We are still grieving; let investigations go on, if it’s true that he was poisoned, let the culprits be got,” she ruled, while presiding over the plenary session.
This was after the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga, expressed concern over the way the Government was handling the matter and demanded to know whether the investigations would not be targeting some politicians.
Museveni had earlier warned members of the public, especially politicians, against making claims that Oulanyah was killed, noting that soon the Police would come for them.
“I would like to warn some people who are in the habit of taking advantage of problems to make cheap politics. And, actually, we’re going to go for them because I have heard some people saying some people killed Oulanyah. The Police will come and ask you to give them some information because Oulanyah did not die in a private home,” he told MPs at Kololo ceremonial grounds after elections of the Speaker and her Deputy.
Museveni explained that it makes no sense for anyone to claim that the former Speaker was killed yet he died at a reputable hospital in the US and had also been admitted to other hospitals in Uganda before being flown abroad.
During Oulanyah’s funeral in Omoro, his brother, Francis Emuna claimed that a person he did not disclose blocked him from travelling to the US to donate bone marrow to his sick brother, and that by the time he travelled there, it was too late for allogeneic transplant.
Police set up team
On Tuesday, the Police confirmed that a special team had been put in place to interrogate more than seven people over claims that Oulanyah could have been poisoned.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) was handling the matter and would summon all the individuals who were required to write statements.
“We will give an update as to when the persons of interest will be summoned,” Enanga told New Vision in an interview.
“We expect summons to be issued by the end of the week. The team will visit the locus to carry out interrogations,” sources at CID confirmed.
The seven who Enanga said would be summoned over the poison remarks include L’Okori, National Unity Platform party leader Robert Kyagulanyi, National Resistance Movement (NRM) party vice-chairperson for central region Godfrey Kiwanda, ICT minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi and Kilak South MP (FDC) Gilbert Olanya.
Others that Police said would summon include Dokolo South MP Felix Okot Ogong (NRM), northern Uganda-based musician Bosmic Otim and some bloggers.