The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Nobert Mao has called for a fresh search for the remains of Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka who was brutally killed by former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin.
Mao, who is also the President of Democratic Party to which Kiwanuka belonged, said the government should get involved in finding his remains to be accorded a befitting burial.
“We would be happy like the Congolese even if we just received a tooth,” said Mao on Wednesday during the 5th Memorial Day of Chief Justice Benedicto Kagimu Mugumba Kiwanuka at the High Court in Kampala, under the theme: “Benedicto Kiwanuka – Reflections on the Independence of the Judiciary in Modern Times”.
Mao was referring to Congo’s murdered independence hero Patrice Lumumba whose family recently buried his only known remains – a tooth – in the capital, Kinshasa, 61 years after his death at the hands of Belgian-backed secessionist rebels.
“We would at least be able to bury that tooth. The technology exists,” said Mao.
Chief Justice Kiwanuka was murdered during Amin’s administration on September 21, 1972, after he was abducted from his chambers at the High Court in Kampala.
Mao said, “there are now people in Argentina known as ;forensic archeologists;. We know
roughly where he could have been buried but we need the support of the Government to get involved,” said the Minister.
“It will be a glorious day, Your Excellency, when our country finally buries a man whose dream was to have a Ugandan state whose foundation is Truth and Justice,” Minister Mao emphasised.
Museveni being welcomed at Kampala High Court on Wednesday
He added that as the country reflects on how he lived, more reflection should be on how died, a manner which he said speaks more about the human rights and democracy in our country.
In 2013, DP said Kiwanuka was buried by dictator Idi Amin’s soldiers in one grave with then Bank of Uganda Governor Joseph Mubiru in Luzira.
“The bodies are in the same grave at Luzira near Murchison Bay prison. That’s where they were buried after being slain on Amin’s orders,” said then DP publicist, Jude Mbabali.
As a result of the September 1961 Uganda Constitutional Conference held in London, Uganda achieved internal self-government on March 1, 1962 and Benedicto Kiwanuka became Uganda’s first Prime Minister in the new National Assembly.
However, new elections were held in April 1962, and Kiwanuka’s party lost to an alliance of Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress and the Buganda traditionalist party, Kabaka Yekka.
Uganda achieved independence on October 9, 1962, with Obote as the first Prime Minister of a fully independent Uganda.
Mao attending the event
Benedicto Kiwanuka was imprisoned in 1969 by Obote’s government, and later released by Idi Amin who appointed him as the First Ugandan Chief Justice.
Kiwanuka soon came into confrontation with Idi Amin’s disregard for the rule of law. On September 22, 1972 he was murdered by Idi Amin’s forces.
At the event, Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo thanked the family of Benedicto Kiwanuka for giving Uganda their son who served as a politician, as a private practitioner and Chief Justice of Uganda whom he described as “a principled man whose trademark sense of righteousness and commitment to the straight ways of justice” put him at loggerheads with the infamous Government of Idi Amin to an extent of taking his life.
“The man who took oath to protect the life and properties of Ugandans (Idi Amin) took the life of one of the persons he took oath to protect,” CJ Owiny- Dollo said.
Five years since the Judiciary declared an annual memorial lecture in his honour every September 21, every memorial lecture has been dominated by calls for respect of the independence of the Judiciary.
Mao promised to support the President in strengthening the Judiciary and other arms of Government to work as a team.
“We believe that the Judiciary has changed a lot. We promise to support your agenda of the whole Government approach of ensuring that we build a strong state,” said Mao.