By Mirembe Martina
Former intelligence chief, Brig Henry Tumukunde is set to appear in court today to answer to charges of spreading harmful propaganda during a radio talk show way back in 2005.
Answering to the charges before him, Brig. Tumukunde told court that he would not defend himself against the charges. According to section 137 of the UPDF Act, the charge of spreading harmful propaganda carries a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment. The charges against Tumukunde came when he openly ridiculed the abolition of presidential term limits.
Because of his remarks, it is believed that President Yoweri Museveni got so angry but could forgive the Brigadier if he showed remorse and retired quietly; if not, he will be sent to jail. Tumukunde is appearing in General Court Martial. “Mr Chairman, when we were last here, I categorically stated that I’ll not defend myself. You insisted that you’ll give me chance to think about it which is two more months now. I’m no longer worried about going to Luzira prison which I think is better than coming to this court anymore,” Tumukunde told the court chairman, Brig Fred Tolit.
In 2005, Tumukunde appeared on CBS and Radio One, where he allegedly made the harmful propaganda statements. On CBS’s Palamenti Yammwe program, hosted by Meddie Nsereko, Tumukunde said: “I want to retire from the army but they are not releasing me. Changing the Constitution has a terrible history in Uganda. Obote changed it and you saw the outcome, it started the chain of so many problems in the country.”
Borrowing a Luganda proverb, he went on to add saying, “Gw’owonya eggere y’alikusambya [the foot you save is what kicks you] – but for me it’s grave –gw’owonya eggere y’alikussa [the foot you save is what kills you]. I find it very, very unfair. I was very, very hardworking, I worked so hard but my returns are in negative. Obote was a dictator but he allowed people to argue their political views, practice their ideology and form parties.”
Tumukunde joined the bush in 1982 after sitting his final exams at Makerere University, alongside his friends Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu and the late Col Sserwanga Lwanga. He was a machine gunner and eventually went on to become one of the senior officers of the NRA rebellion led by President Museveni.
Birg. Tumukunde’s fate will be decided upon after the state closes its arguments on January 24.