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Besigye’s former aide Sam Mugumya released from DRC prison

Sam Mugumya freed after 8 years of detention in Ndola Military prison in DR Congo. Photo via @FDCOfficial1

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Sam Mugumya, a former aide to Dr. Kiiza Besigye has been released from a military detention in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mugumya has been in detention for over eight years. While details surrounding his journey to freedom are scanty, FDC iron lady Ingrid Turinawe, sent out a tweet confirming that Mugumya was on his way out of detention.

In an interview with URN, Turinawe confirmed that she had information that DRC had finally allowed Mugumya out of jail. Turinawe however declined to comment further, saying that full details would be availed by Moses Byamugisha and other lawyers who have been pushing for Mugumya’s freedom.

Kampala Deputy Lord Mayor Doreen Nanjura, in a facebook post said; “Eight years later, Mugumya Sam is a free man. To you all that stood with him in all ways possible, Thank you. Thank you for understanding the true doctrine of the struggle; We are each other’s keepers,” Nyanjura’s post reads.

The DRC government has in the past declined to extradite Mugumya despite calls by the government and the FDC party.

Sam Mugumya was arrested on October 21, 2014 for alleged illegal entry into the DRC. At the time, the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa said that the DRC government had indicated that Mugumya had gone to DRC to pronounce rebellion against Uganda.

He alleged that Mugumya had willingly stated that the purpose of his entry and using pseudonyms, was because he was going to fight a brotherly government.

Mugumya was allegedly arrested with four other Ugandans. The names of the other three who were allegedly arrested with Sam Mugumya have never been made public.

In November 2016, International Relations Minister, Henry Okello Oryem told Parliament that the DRC government continued to hold Mugumya as outlined under the Ngurdoto agreement on bilateral cooperation between Uganda and DRC.

Under the agreement between Uganda and DRC in 2007, the two countries undertook not to harbor or support subversive activities in either territory.

The government of Uganda had asked the DRC to extradite Mugumya but by 2015, authorities in DRC allegedly declined to extradite Mugumya and 30 other Ugandans then held at Ndolo for lack of an extradition treaty between Uganda and DRC.

There have had several efforts by the FDC party to secure the release of Sam Mugumya but without success. With the DRC joining the East African Community, Human rights lawyer Adam Kyomuhendo had sought a declaration by the East African Court of Justice to block the admission of DRC to East African Community.

Kyomuhendo had accused the DRC of violating the rights of Ugandans, including the detention of Sam Mugumya without trial.

Who is Sam Mugumya?

Sam Mugumya came to the limelight around early 2000s. Together with the current Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye, the two were known to have stood with former FDC President Dr. Kiiza Besigye during demonstrations. The 43-year Sam Mugumya started his political activism when he was a student of political science at Makerere University. He served as the Secretary General of the Youth League of the FDC.

He later became the personal assistant to former FDC president Dr. Kizza Besigye. Mugumya was one of the strong members of the Activists for Change lobby group founded around 2011. He was a prominent figure in the “Walk to Work” campaign in which he was always seen guarding Dr. Kiiza Besigye against security and police brutality.

Mugumya described himself “as easy-going, fun-loving but hardened crusader for justice and freedom.” Mugumya also indicated that he strongly believed in revolutions and that his greatest idols were Dr. Kiiza Besigye and former Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara.

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