The Archbishop of Uganda has denied suggestions that last month’s attack on the House of Bishops was a premeditated murder plot orchestrated by prominent government leaders.
Speculation in the Ugandan press after the 23 Aug 2016 incident has focused on why the police left the bishops unguarded, and if senior government ministers and army officers with financial interests at stake were behind the attack.
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali said he wanted to “make it clear that, contrary to some reports, there was no prior plan to murder the Archbishop and the Bishops of the Church of Uganda whatsoever, and no collusion from the authorities to leave us unprotected.”
The archbishop said he believed the attack had been a spontaneous assault by squatters. Archbishop Ntagali told Anglican Ink that after a full day of business the bishops meeting at Uganda Christian University resolved to “get into a university bus to visit the farm where there is land dispute and conflict by squatters. The Province gave this very land to the University for Development.”
“Some squatters include a minister in the Uganda government and other politicians who have been very negative about the ownership of the land by the university,” he wrote, adding: “We notified the local police chief and the district commission to provide security to the bishops and they agreed but did not keep to time.”
“When we visited the land, which is being encroached by the grabbers, some young people became violent and wanted to burn our bus. When the diocesan Bishop of Mukono called the Resident District Commissioner by phone, he panicked and quickly came with the District Police Commander with his people to rescue us.”
The archbishop said the church held the deeds to the property and that the “matter is being investigated and we hope it will be sorted out.”
At the church’s Provincial Synod, the local district police commander Fred Ahimbisbwe apologized for the incident, stating: “It is true I received the letter from UCU requesting us to accompany the bishops. We were supposed to give you security but I was in a meeting so I did not know that you had gone to the place.”
Archbishop Ntagali rose and said he and his brother bishops had forgiven their attackers, “but they must repent.”
One insider told AI he believed the church was wise to let the matter drop, noting that it would serve no purpose to press the issue, as the church had the upper hand in having clear legal title to the properties. The position taken by the archbishop allowed the church’s opponents in the government and military to save face and settle the matter outside the public spotlight.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the government would investigate the incident and take appropriate action.