The Forum for Democratic Change -FDC party Chairman Wasswa Birigwa has accused Secretary General Nathan Nandala Mafabi of holding him hostage at the Party headquarters.
On Thursday Birigwa visited the party offices at Najjanankumbi where he was scheduled to address the press about the affairs of the party. Journalists were barred from accessing the headquarters while Birigwa forced himself in through a small gate.
Birigwa who accessed the premises at around 11 am couldn’t come out until after 5 pm when he was seen scaling through the fence with the help of some youth believed to be party members.
After the incident, Birigwa said that there were over 50 drunk bouncers and youth who were guarding the party offices. He said these were under the command of one Meddie Musisi who was allegedly taking instructions from Mafabi.
He said that when media was denied access he pleaded with them to let him come out and address the media from outside the gate, but his plea fell on deaf ears.
Birigwa said he was held hostage for hours in the hope that journalists would leave and him too without a press briefing. He said that the fracas happened in the presence of party president Engineer Patrick Amuriat.
FDC has been embroiled in internal fights involving two factions. It all started on Monday when the party spokesperson Ibrahim Semujju Nganda convened a consultative meeting with some FDC members and informed them of some suspicious money that he says Nandala brought into the party during the 2021 general elections and together with Amuriat utilized it.
The money is alleged to have come from President Yoweri Museveni. Mafabi together with Amuriat also addressed the press refuting the allegations. One of the party founders Dr. Kiiza Besigye also held a press briefing in which he asked Nandala and Amuriat to step aside from party responsibility. Biriggwa said that he organized the press briefing to address the issues in the party.
Birigwa however said that his captors thought he was going to talk about the party elections meant to commence on Friday. There was contention over the elections with Birigwa suspending them while Amuriat announced that the has no powers to suspend the elections and insisted that they will be conducted.
Birigwa, Ssemujju, and others wanted the elections to be postponed until an investigation into the money issue is concluded.
But Mafabi denied taking Birigwa hostage and accused the party chairperson of stage managing the escape. According to Mafabi, he was not at the party headquarters at the time of the incident. He also apologized to the journalists who were assaulted and their phones taken by youth who emerged from the party offices.
The victims included Urban TV intern Rachel Ainembazi, Radio Sapientia journalist Charles Katabalwa, CBS’s Joseph Balikuddembe, and George William Katoloba from Namirembe fm.
The journalists have asked the Secretary-General and Party President to take action against the youth and also compensate for the property lost.
One of the journalists William Nkonge said he was assaulted by two youth despite having a press identity card.
Katabalwa says that he pleaded with one of the FDC members to restrain the gang who were assaulting him but in vain.
Balikuddembe said that his phone was also taken and attempts to get a police report at the Najjanankumbi police post yielded no results then as the police officers there asked him and the others to report the case to Katwe Police Station.
Charles Nkonge, FDC Chairman for Youth in Wakiso District condemned the actions of blocking the party chairman and hiring youth to assault party members and journalists.
The FDC Deputy Treasurer and Buhweju County Member of Parliament Francis Mwijukye was also denied access to the premises. He condemned Amuriat and Nandala for blocking Birigwa’s press conference. He said such actions are proof that Amuriat and Nandala are working against the party to the advantage of President Yoweri Museveni.