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Gunmen run away with documents related to Masaka crude pipeline claims

Oil pipeline plans on track, to pass through many districts of Masaka

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Unidentified thugs have broken into the offices of Community Transformation Foundation Network-COTFONE, a Non-Government Organization that is helping persons affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline-EACOP project get compensation.

Yisito Kayinga Muddu, the  Programs Coordinator of COTFONE says that the thieves went away with four laptop computers, two tablets, a cellphone handset, and key organization document files. Kayinga is a renowned Human Rights Defender on matters relating to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Lwengo, Rakai, Kyotera, Sembabule, and Gomba districts.

The offices are located in Kiwangala Trading Centre in Kisekka Sub County, Lwengo district. The district coordinates activities that aim at empowering community actors to address the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups in the greater Masaka region.

It is said that six men cut the fencing mesh to access the premises. Four of them broke the main entrance door and entered the house while the two remained outside to keep watch. In his complaint statement recorded at Kimanya-Kabonera division Police station, Kayinga indicates that the thugs also made attempts of breaking into his home which is located close to the offices, but they were repulsed by the neighbours who raised alarms.

Before they entered the house, an occupant identified as Irene Nantege had run out and taken refuge in a banana plantation behind the house.

He alleges that the stolen files contained grievance statements from persons affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline-EACOP project; which were being prepared to be taken to court. He adds that prior to the burglary, he had received threats through anonymous callers cautioning him against his activism.

Muhammad Nsubuga, the greater Masaka Regional Police Spokesperson confirms that they registered a case of burglary and theft, saying that their investigations have begun. He says that their scene-of-crime officers have visited the affected offices and have obtained clear clues that can lead them to the perpetrators.

Hussein Mwisho, the Officer In-charge of Kyabakuza division police says they could not use the sniffer dogs to trace the suspects since the matter was reported late and the scene had been tampered with.   However, police have advised Kayinga to improve home security by installing cameras and deploying security guards for protection.

Richard Birimuye, the leader of Kyotera PAPs, condemned the attack on Kayinga saying that it is meant to scare him from fighting against violations as far as the pipeline is concerned.   He adds that the raid on Kayinga’s home has already sent a signal to the affected persons not to complain about any irregularities in the project.

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