COSASE probes Umeme over extortion and torture

KAMPALA – The Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) is set to probe the conduct of Umeme officials after consistent claims of torture, extortion and unlawful conduct.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among directed the Committee to institute the probe after the public outcry against the conduct of the company’s officials.

Several Members of Parliament have lodged complaints, with multiple claims of extortion and torture as well as carrying out illegal connections.

MP’s James Niringiyimana for Kinkizi County West, Seth Wambede for Mbale Northern Division, accused Umeme of connivance with Police officers to arrest people and extort money from them with threats of prosecution.

“I went to Jinja Road Police Station, 12th September, 2021 where a person in my area was arrested over electricity related matters but to my surprise, these Umeme people had been given powers to arrest and prosecute,” said Niringiyimana.

MP Wambede described a tormenting incident that a member of the clergy in his constituency went through at the hands of Umeme officials.

“I was called by my parish priest over an electricity connection incident in my area. These Umeme people with Police had arrested him; put him on a pickup and took him to a forest near Mbale town and took everything they could before letting him go,” he told Parliament.

After several complaints, MP Ephraim Biraaro of Buhweju West says, Umeme had ignored his pleas in the constituency to treat the members of the public in a humane manner, but rather tortured and arrested them violently with the help of the police.

“Madam Speaker, we need to consider terminating the contract of Umeme as the service provider for power,” said Biraaro.

Biraaro told Parliament that after frequenting the Umeme office in Ishaka with little success, he considered tackling the issue from Kampala, but he was not accorded the due attention.

The State Minister for Energy, Okasai Opolot who attempted to respond by defending Umeme was shouted at by the angry legislators, and advised to consider consulting about the behavior of Umeme officers and its operations.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among ordered the Committee to conduct an inquiry and report to the House on the actions taken against the perpetrators of the illegalities of Umeme.

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