Parliament summons Minister Otafiire over Luzira Prison relocation

Kampala, (UG):– Parliament has summoned Uganda’s Internal Affairs Minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire to defend the government’s proposal to relocate Luzira Prison from Kampala to Buikwe District to allow the construction of an International Conference Center and Commercial Hub.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Among issued the directive in response to a matter of national importance raised by Igara County West MP, Hon. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, on Wednesday, February 28, 2024.

Hon Mbwatekamwa said he was concerned that the government is making a critical decision without consulting the people’s representatives.

“The story about the relocation of Luzira prison has been in social media, but I have not seen any minister or the Prime Minister come to this House to explain if it is true,” the Igara county legislator submitted on Wednesday.

Last week, DailyExpress broke a story that President Museveni had written to the Minister directing the relocation of Luzira prison and allow the land on which Uganda’s maximum prison sits to be turned into a five-star hotel by the Chinese firm, Tian Tang Group.

In the letter dated July 10, 2022, Museveni said he had received a letter from Tian Tang Group requesting to restructure the prison into a five-star hotel and relocate it to a new area at their cost. Museveni said in the letter that he totally supported the idea.

In his implementation of the Presidential directive, Gen Otafiire in a letter dated February 22, 2024, invited the Attorney General and other stakeholders for a meeting to discuss the actualization of the proposal with the view that his ministry had found land where Luzira prison would be relocated and that negotiations were ongoing to purchase the land.

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“The Uganda Prison Service has identified 3.5 square miles in Buikwe, out of which they have agreed to purchase 1 square mile for the said location,” Otafire wrote.

MP Mbwatekamwa told parliament that he was in possession of two letters already in the public domain regarding a presidential instruction to Otafiire to carry out consultative meetings over Luzira prison relocation.

“The letter by the President on the relocation of the prison is dated July 10, 2022, and the letter by Otafiire inviting stakeholders in regards to the directive is dated February 22, 2022,” Mbwatekamwa said before expressing concern that the minister charged with the relocation has had bad press, where he is accused of grabbing a government ranch in Njeru, Buikwe district.

Among those cognizant of Parliament’s rules of procedure, I guided Mbwaketamwa to wait for the Minister’s presence to raise his concerns.

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“Can you raise that issue when Gen. Otafiire is in the House? Our rules say you cannot speak about a person who is not in the House,” said Among, who added, “The issue of the Official Secrecy Act applies, but if it is true, I would like to ask the minister to come and give an explanation.”

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