Minister Opendi while on the floor of parliament on Tuesday said that although PMPU is supposed to be under her authority, up now she does not know where it gets orders from, whom it reports too and where it keeps the exhibits it confiscate from the local miners.
The State Minister for Minerals, Sarah Opendi has asked Parliament to summon the minister of Internal Affairs Gen. Jeje Odongo to explain why the Police Mineral Protection Unit (PMPU) is still brutalizing local miners yet Parliament ordered for its dismantling.
She added the PMPU has become a habitat of lawless police officers who are respecting nobody, and even participate in the abuse of human rights.
“The Police Mineral Protection Unit has been a challenge to us, it’s supposed to work under us and get directives from us but the reverse is true. As the political head of the sector, this unit has deliberately ignored my commands and it has been doing contrary to our orders plus abusing human rights of Ugandans in mines,” Opendi told Parliament.
She added that at first, she thought the unit was getting orders from the top command of the Police but while in the meeting with President Yoweri Museveni together with Inspector General of Police (IGP) Okoth Ochola, the latter denied giving PMPU any orders because he expected the unit to be getting directives from the ministry. A matter that even made president Museveni wonder.
Following the submission of Minister Opendi, the Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga asked Gen Odongo to appear before the parliament to explain to the country why the unit in question is still operating despite it’s poor records.
Kadaga wants the minister to explain why PMPU was created, under what law was it formed and where it gets funds that facilitate its operations because Parliament does not know it. And finally, they want the minister to explain whom it takes reports too after operations.
“This is a matter of concern the ministry of Internal Affairs should come to this house and tell us the development of mineral protections unit, its structures and how it was established,” Kadaga said.
The PMPU was established in 2017 following an increase in crimes in Uganda’s gold mines. It was formed under the orders of the former IGP Gen Edward Kale Kayihura purposely to curb illegal mining in all the country’s mineral deposits.
However severely reports have showed that the unit is doing the opposite of its original objectives because ever since its formation, a lot of reports from Civil Societies Organisations have been accusing its officers of inhuman behaviour towards the local people.
Reports also showed how the unit has misused its authority by stealing minerals they get from artisanal miners instead of parading them as exhibits before the courts of law.
It was from this background that Parliament last year through its parliamentary committee on Natural Resources called for its dismantling however, up now, it’s still operating.