MPs grill Luweero police over primary pupil’s abortion case

Members of Parliament have grilled officers at Luweero Central Police Station for what they called failure to arrest a clinical officer alleged to have administered an abortion on an underage girl.

The girl, who is a primary seven pupil at St. Joseph Bukomba Primary School, is admitted at Luweero Health Centre IV where she is being treated for post-abortion sepsis.The girl was allegedly defiled by her school head teacher James Ssekito and classroom teacher Ambrose Okwi who later sponsored her abortion but it didn’t go well.

On Thursday evening five female legislators under the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association – UWOPA – visited Luweero Central Police Station and put police officers to task to explain why they had not arrested both the clinical officer Francis Ekeu and the suspected defilers.

The legislators were Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding, who is the chairperson of UWOPA, Pamela Kamugo Nasiyo the MP for Budaka, Mariam Naigaga for Namutumba, Justine Khainza for Bududa and Lilian Nakate, the Luweero Woman MP.

Amos Obina, the Luweero Deputy Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department boss, told the MPs that Police had no knowledge of the health worker who administered abortion but they arrested James Ssekito the school head teacher and were hunting for Ambrose Okwi.

The MPs, however, faulted Obina for what they called mismanaging the case and failing to arrest the clinical officer.  They tasked Obina to present Ssekito to confirm whether he doesn’t know the clinical officer who administered the abortion.

When he appeared before MPs, Ssekito confessed that the abortion procedure was indeed done by Francis Ekeu attached at Luweero Health Centre IV and that he knew him.

Ssekito had by this time been detained for over 24 hours.

MP Lilian Nakate wondered what information police wanted to arrest Ekeu for interrogation and accused Obina of neglect of duty. Nakate adds that leaving key suspects at large for a long time gives them a chance to jeopardise investigations and compromising parents of the victims.

UWOPA chairperson Monica Amoding said she was suspicious police in Luweero could have taken bribes to let the clinical officer and teacher escape without arrest. Amoding vowed to present the case on the floor of parliament and to petition the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura to intervene.

The 16-year-old pupil pinned Ssekito and Okwi for jointly defiling her, aiding her abortion and asked MPs to ensure they are penalised.

Later Dr. Joseph Okware, the District Health Officer said Francis Ekeu had escaped but promised to cooperate with police to bring him to book.

Abortion is illegal in Uganda and Section 141 of the Penal Code Act provides for 14 years imprisonment if found guilty of procuring abortion.

A 2013 report issued by the Centre for Reproductive Health Uganda indicates that 800 illegal abortions are carried out in Uganda each day.

According to the Ministry of Health, 1,500 women of child-bearing age die every year due to abortion-related complications.  The ministry spends up to 38 billion shillings annually on post-abortion care.

Last year, the ministry released guidelines detailing circumstances under which medical workers can perform abortions in hospitals, in a move to save women who get complications while carrying out illegal abortions.