22 August 2014

Uganda: CMI Arrest Trader Linked to Sejusa

Francis Matovu, alias Bbutto, a property dealer linked to exiled Gen David Sejusa, claims he was arrested on August 15 by officers from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.

In an intervie won August 17, a day after his release, Matovu said he was interrogated at CMI headquarters for close to eight hours about his links to the exiled former coordinator of intelligence services. Before he went into exile in April 2013, Gen Sejusa authored a letter claiming there was a plot by the state to eliminate political and military officials opposed to First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba's ascendency to the Presidency. That claim was roundly denied by both the army and government.

Matovu told The Observer that he was arrested on his way from Lutembe beach in Entebbe at around 9am.

"They found me in my Land Cruiser vehicle, took me to Kisubi police post where I left my vehicle. After telling me I was wanted at CMI headquarters at Mbuya, they put me in a matatu which had about six people in plainclothes followed by an Ipsum vehicle with armed personnel," Matovu said.

At CMI, he said, he was taken before two officers, one identified as Col Mbonye (deputy CMI chief). He said the two officers questioned him about his dealings with Sejusa.

"I told them I used to do business with Sejusa before he left for London, and that I see no crime in talking to him now regarding business because even President Museveni used to talk to the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi who was at loggerheads with the USA," Matovu said.

"After some time, I requested them to stop asking me about Sejusa because I am not a soldier and I don't regret dealing with him in business purely because it is him who taught me business. By the time he picked me up eight years ago, I was almost a pauper and since then I have been financially upgrading. So, I regard him as my financial parent," he added.

He said he was also asked about his dealings with several other senior army officers, including Brig Wasswa, Karati and Kasujja.

"I told the interrogators that apart from Wasswa, who I only hear about, I had never heard of the others. Actually,one of the senior officers I thought they might have asked me about is Brig.[Leo] Kyanda because recently, through a third party, he wanted to buy my Land Cruiser and I refused."

Asked to comment on the claims, the UPDF spokesman, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said Matovu was arrested by police.

"After Matovu's name kept popping up several times in subversive activities involving Sejusa, he was arrested and later our guys helped interrogate him for eight hours and thereafter he was released. He is now a free man," Ankunda said.

Matovu was also linked to prominent businessmen.

"They also asked me whether I ran business in Kikuubo to which I denied before they further asked me about my dealings with prominent businessmen like Hassan Basajjabalaba. I told them Basajjabalaba is my personal friend and an associate who I see no harm in dealing with. They later released me late in the evening that same day... ," he said.

Intent to sue:

He said he had asked his lawyer Michael Mabikke from KAM & Co Advocates to lodge a suit against the attorney general. Mabikke confirmed on Monday that they had instructions to sue government over Matovu's illegal arrest.

"CMI is not a gazetted prison and is more or less a torture chamber. Bbutto [Matovu] has nothing to do with politics, arresting him caused loss to his business and we're going to take on the matter in court," Mabikke said.

This is the second time Matovu is being arrested in one year in connection with Sejusa. When Sejusa was planning his aborted comeback, Matovu was arrested with other people for distributing Sejusa's return posters in Kampala. They were charged at Nakawa magistrate's court before the case was dismissed.

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