Conflicting accounts emerge on Todwong shooting

Richard Todwong at Gulu Independent Hospital
Richard Todwong at Gulu Independent Hospital. Internet Photo.

Conflicting reports continue to emerge about circumstances under which Richard Todwong, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party deputy secretary general, was shot on Saturday night.

Todwong is currently admitted at International Hospital Kampala (IHK) after being airlifted from Gulu where he was first admitted with gunshot wounds. A source at Gulu Independent Hospital who preferred anonymity said that Todwong was at about 9am on Sunday morning airlifted from Gulu airstrip aboard a UPDF helicopter to International Hospital in Kampala for specialised treatment.

A medical report obtained from Gulu Independent Hospital indicates that National Resistance Movement (NRM) party deputy secretary obtained a soft tissue injury of left thigh.

The report says 45-year-old Todwong with in-patient number 50618 reported to the hospital with gunshot wound two hours after the incident with no prior ill-health reported.

Gulu Independent hospital says continuous monitoring for vital signs of threats to his life after every two hours cleared him of any danger to his life after treatment.

He was stable, alert and not in pain with no sign of shock as he reported to the Gulu based hospital.

“A round shape puncture wound estimated to be 3-4cm in diameter with rugged edge proximal to the left lateral thigh, was noted locally oozing with venous blood. Another similar wound just proximal to the left knee joint about 2cm in diameter, not actively bleeding,” the report of Dr. Anena Joyce Oyet who treated Todwong states.

Dr. Anena was not available for interview when our reporter visited the hospital. But her report that our reporter saw ruled out injuries to the hip joint despite saying there was local swelling of the thigh along the imaginary line joining the two wounds with tenderness. Joint range of movement was unaffected and sensation was intact, according to the report.

Todwong was reportedly injured by his own weapon on Saturday evening as he drove to Gulu town. He underwent x-ray from Gulu Independent Hospital that ruled out any internal fracture or dislocation.

The report however states that complete blood count signifies occult blood infection prior to the incident. His wound was dressed and patient put on anti-biotics,” it concluded.

The incident happened at Coo – Pelwor trading centre in Kiryandongo Sub County in Kiryandongo district at about 9pm. The trading centre is between Bweyale and Karuma trading centre.

Thomas Lapyem Awany, a lawyer and the younger brother of Todwong, says “Todwong had just driven through a rowdy mob at an accident scene in Coo Pelwor trading centre when the incident happened.” Lapyem, however, doesn’t give details of what happened at the accident scene that could have necessitated Todwong to pull out his gun.

Joyce Alima, former deputy speaker of Gulu district local government says Todwong accidentally shot himself “as he adjusted himself on his car seat.”

Captain Okot Santos Lapolo, Gulu Resident District Commissioner has ruled out assassination attempt on Todwong. He confirmed after speaking to family sources in Gulu that the NRM deputy secretary general injured himself using his own weapon.

James Ochen, the NRM chairperson in Gulu has also confirmed it was an accident.

When our reporter spoke to Martin Okoyo, the Gulu district Police Commander, he said that neither the accident nor the shooting were reported to Police.

Lt. Hassan Kato, the UPDF 4th Division Commander says he was yet to be briefed on the details of the accident despite Todwong being airlifted from Gulu airfield near the division barracks.

Quoting Maj. Gen. Charles Otema Awany, the Commander of UPDF Reserve Force and also the eldest brother of Todwong, Gulu based Mega FM reported that Todwong shot himself as he paid attention to a suspicious vehicle trailing his car in Diima village in Kiryandongo district. This account from a member of the family makes no mention of the accident.

On Sunday evening, NRM secretary general, Justine Kasule Lumumba, issued a statement saying that there was a fatal accident involving a Tata Lorry and a motorcyclist.

“On the evening of Saturday February 18th, 2017 while driving to his country home in Nwoya District, the Deputy Secretary General, Hon Richard Todwong, found a boda-boda cyclist who had just been knocked down by a Tata Lorry Registration No. 307 UDG at Chopelwor Village. The lorry sped off, leaving the injured cyclist by the road side. Unfortunately the boda boda rider passed on,” reads the statement in part.

Lumumba noted that Todwong acted as “a leader and responsible citizen” and pursued the truck. This, according to Lumumba, “necessitated Todwong to fire gun shots in the air to dispel by-standers as well as force the driver of the truck to stop.” The truck driver however continued running until they reached a roadblock mounted along the road by traffic police where the driver was arrested.

“It was while explaining to the police officers at the road block that the officers pointed to Hon Todwong blood stains on his trousers. So, we cannot establish at this moment whether he shot himself or was shot by someone else,” says Lumumba.

– Uganda Radio Network