Nine people including University students are in police custody for staging a protest in support of the resolution by the European Union calling for the suspension of the East African Crude Oil pipeline-EACOP project.
The affected students are mainly student leaders from Makerere, Kyambogo, and Makerere University Business School-MUBS. They took to the streets on Tuesday dressed in their university gowns armed with placards and banners calling on the government to halt the oil pipeline project.
Police intercepted the protesters around Kingdom Kampala Building on their way to the EU offices at Crested Towers where they expected to hand over a petition compelling the government to halt the EACOP project. In their petition, the protester demand that the EACOP project is stopped until certain safeguards are implemented by the government to stop human rights violations.
John Solomon Nabuyanda, one of the protesters, said the East African crude oil extraction contract that was signed between the Ugandan government and the oil company is marred with irregularities, the reason why it is hidden from the public.
“There is no member of parliament or minister with a full understanding of what is in that agreement. There is public anxiety about this project. We want to know how many people have been compensated or displaced from their land, and the safety of Ugandans who will be working there. But you can’t get that information”. Nabuyanda said
Other protesters said Uganda National Student’s Association leaders couldn’t convince them in the recent protests, because they were also used as puppets to mobilize students in a protest supporting the project.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango, says that the organisers of the protest didn’t have authorization since they didnt get police clearance. He says that the nine protesters have been charged with inciting violence and illegal assembly.
Onyango explains that four out of the nine suspects in custody were hired by the students to participate in the demonstration. The arrest of the protesters comes a few days after a group of students from various schools marched around Kampala and Hoima streets accompanied by brass bands and the police protesting against the resolution by the European Parliament on the oil pipeline project.
In its resolution, the European Parliament said the construction of the East African Crude Oil pipeline –EACOP will increase human rights violations and environmental destruction in the areas it is set to pass. The resolution continues to elicit mixed reactions from the public with some in favor and against the project. However, President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has since assured Ugandans that nothing would halt work at EACOP.URN