The body of fallen Butaleja MP Cerinah Nebanda in Parliament PHOTO BY GEOFFREY SSERUYANGE.
By Nelson Wesonga & Yasiin Mugerwa
Posted Saturday, December 22 2012 at 02:00
The lawmakers argue that a new post-mortem is unlikely to reveal the real cause of the death of their colleague, though the burial date is yet to be confirmed.
Parliament sought to end the controversy over the death of Butaleja MP Cerinah Nebanda by stopping all further post-mortem investigations. A report compiled by three MPs appointed by the House told legislators yesterday that the passage of time and the introduction of preservatives into the body meant a new post-mortem was unlikely to give an accurate cause of death.
The report was done by MPs Dr Chris Baryomunsi [Kinkizi West], Dr Sam Lyomoki [Workers], and Dr Medard Bitekyerezo [Mbarara Municipality].
Dr Lyomoki, who presented the report, told the House that it was feasible for another post-mortem to be done but except that it will be of very limited value. “In view of the fact that the body has been embalmed with Formaldehyde (Formalin) and knowing that Formalin makes extractions of poison from the body extremely difficult, it’s unlikely that useful results can be got from the new samples from an already embalmed body,” Dr Lyomoki said.
“Given the fact that this case has caused serious controversy and difficulty, it would be unreasonable to continue causing additional trauma and anxiety just because one wants to exclude a small spectrum of poisons which even require sophisticated and expensive facilities for detection,” Dr Lyomoki said.
They recommended that burial, which had been delayed by the controversy, should go ahead. Parliament also adopted a recommendation from the trio directing government to stop the “harassment” of MPs and a consultant pathologist earlier contracted by the House to conduct a parallel investigation into the cause of death.
The pathologist, Dr Sylvester Onzivua, was arrested as he prepared to fly to South Africa with body samples. He was detained for two days and released on police bond yesterday. Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek accused the pathologist of illegally obtaining the body samples and irregularly trying to leave the country without permission, claims Dr Onzivua denied in an interview with this newspaper.
Yesterday’s special sitting of Parliament, which was still in session by press time, followed one on Tuesday that ended in acrimony, as MPs accused the government of bungling the investigation. The ruling party MP from Butaleja, who was critical of many government programmes, was pronounced dead on Friday evening at a medical facility in Kampala where she had been taken.
Government yesterday said the report by the three MPs to the House contained falsehoods but Mr Onek was blocked from giving a government response to the matter. Premier Amama Mbabazi and Attorney General Peter Nyombi were booed by members for attempting to disown the doctor’s report.
Instead, MPs adopted a fifth recommendation from the trio, urging the government to respect and promote medical professionalism. MPs paid tribute to their fallen colleague, who was described as a “gallant political foot soldier” who loved to speak the truth and hated corruption.