Uganda: New Accusations Against Kayihura

Kampala, Uganda — Since August 27 last year when he was released on bail, embattled former inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura has appeared to be on the road to rehabilitation and possible freedom.

Many observes assumed his privileges to have been partly restored when he received two brand new Toyota Land Cruisers--one from the army and another from police as part of his privileges for serving the two institutions.

Kayihura appeared to have unimpeded travel within the country and State House aided him as he applied for visas to travel with four others including his wife and a military officer to Germany for medical treatment.

Kayihura's road to freedom was even marked with an important milestone, on Feb.04. That is when he would appear again before the Military Court Martial at Makindye military barracks in Kampala on three charges; failure to protect war materials, aiding and abetting kidnap, and illegal repatriation of Rwandese exiles. The Court Martial is yet to give a hearing date for the case and Kayihura appears at every beginning of month as part of the terms for his bail.

The same court was set to decide on the bail applications of Kayihura's co-accused; Herbert Muhangi, the former commander of the defunct Flying Squad Unit and that of Col. Ndahura Atwooki, the former director crime intelligence. Both officers have been under military detention since when CMI arrested them together with Richard Ndaboine, the former head of cyber intelligence. They are also facing charges of failure to protect war materials, aiding the kidnap, and illegal repatriation of Rwandan nationals.

But, The Independent can exclusively report, that Kayihura is not free to travel around as was assumed and new charges again him are being prepared by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

Details remain scanty but The Independent has learnt that the intelligence bodies are now investigating Kayihura over allegations that he instructed Herbert Muhangi to work with Congolese to steal vehicles from Uganda to sell them in DR Congo and raise Shs200 million per month for an unstated purpose.

Apparently, the security organs have Congolese who are ready to confess that Kayihura, through Muhangi, was working with them.

In another charge, the security agencies allege that Kayihura instructed Abdul Kitatta; the jailed former head of the defunct Boda Boda 2010 to kill people with machetes in Kampala and its suburbs. The goal was allegedly to discredit President Yoweri Museveni's record on security.

Kitatta and 12 others were remanded to Kigo prison in January last year by the army's Unit Disciplinary Court over charges of failure to protect war material, being in possession of military stores, among others, following their arrest the same month.

Connecting Kitatta and Kayihura to gangs that used machetes to kill people is a major accusation. The machete wielding gangs sent shock waves across central Uganda in 2017 forcing police to carry out a sting and arrest scores, some of who claimed they were working with police.

The killings by these gangs caused a security crisis that saw President Museveni instruct CMI to take over many police functions including arresting and detaining police officers accused of working with criminal elements.

Resurrecting dead charges

That the security agencies are resurrecting these charges speaks volumes about the direction they intend to take in terms of pinning the accused, insiders say. Capt. Charles Ssekayita, who is representing Muhangi, based on Kayihura's freedom to plea for bail for Muhangi at the last court martial sitting.

Ssekayita argued that Muhangi faces the same charges with former Police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura who was granted bail. "I pray that court follows the same precedence and grant Muhangi bail," Ssekayita said.

Ssekayita pointed out that Muhangi had spent 290 days in detention at Makindye military barracks without trial.

"If the person is remanded for over 180 days, the Constitution stipulates that he is entitled to mandatory bail," he said. He added that his client suffers from peptic ulcers that cannot be treated in detention.

With Kayihura out of jail and on the path to rehabilitation and freedom, everything appeared to point to possible freedom for Muhangi and others.

But the fresh investigations mean that these officers and the former police are not yet off the hook. The new charges mean they can be re-arrested even if they are granted bail.

Insiders say the security agencies have arrested many low ranking officers to implicate Kayihura. The plan according to highly placed sources is to get the arrested officers to confess crimes against Kale in exchange for their release.

Kayihura's lawyer, Elison Karuhanga told The Independent that he was not aware of the fresh investigations but would not be surprised.

"What we have always been aware of is that there is an industry that manufactures fake news against him, why and by whom we do not know," he said.

Karuhanga says that, no one asked Kayihura about the new accusations during the 70 days he was under military interrogation at Makindye Military Barracks and no one has asked him about the same ever since he was granted bail.

Yet at one point Kayihura faced up to 19 charges, according to his other lawyer, Jet Tumwebaze.

The latest charges follow others that appear intended to keep a noose around Kayihura.

Insiders say the ISO boss; retired Col. Kaka Bagyenda, in January sent a radio message to President Museveni and other security agencies that Gen. Kayihura has links to Australian-based Australia-based Ugandan cardiologist, Dr Aggrey Kiyingi. Kiyingi has been linked to rebel activities.

According a source familiar with the intelligence reports, ISO intelligence indicated that Kale had also formed a new terrorist group called People's Agency and that the same group has been throwing leaflets around the country.

Apparently, ISO arrested a boda boda rider linked to the group. Upon interrogation, the rider took them to his house, where ISO found a drone and boom-making materials. ISO claimed to have credible evidence that Kale is the one who formed People's Agency.

It is not the first time such accusations are emerging. In July, Kaka paraded before the press two youths who confessed to have participated in murdering people using machetes/pangas.

The youths accused Kayihura of having released such suspects when reported to him. Kaka said he would investigate.

The CMI had earlier arrested other Kayihura's close aides; Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe, the former commander Special Operations Unit, Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, the commandant of the police Professional Standards Unit, Assistant Superintendent of Police Magada, crime intelligence; Benon Atwebembeire, Sgt Abel Tumukunde, the Kampala Metropolitan Police flying squad commander, Faisal Katende, flying squad and Amon Kwarisima.

They were charged with unlawful possession of firearms and grenades ordinarily a monopoly of the Defence Forces.

The group was also charged with handing to the Rwanda government two prominent persons; one Lt. Joel Mutabazi; a former presidential guard for Rwanda President Paul Kagame who had sought refuge in Uganda, and Jackson Kalemera. According to court proceedings, the two officials were handed to Rwanda without their consent. But Rwandan authorities say these were handed to them through official channels.

Bogus charges history

Kayihura was initially arrested over allegations that he was responsible for the murder former Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

Kaweesi was murdered together with his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa on March 17 when assailants showered with bullets the car he was driving in on their way from his home in Kulambiro, a Kampala surburb.

And on June 13 the military led by the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbadi and the head of CMI Brig. Abel Kandiho arrested Kayihura at his farm in Kashagama, Lyantonde District.

Following his arrest, Kayihura was told that he was being charged with the murder of AIGP Kaweesi.

According to sources, President Yoweri Museveni had in June last year said the charges against Kayihura were of a serious nature.

The President's explanation followed a request by Kayihura through the Chief of Defense Forces; Gen. David Muhoozi for a meeting with the head of state. But when Muhoozi passed on the information during a meeting of senior army officers with the president at State House Entebbe, President Museveni declined to see him.

He told the army officers that he preferred to keep emotional distance and explained that if he met Kayihura personally, he could be swayed by kindness and emotion towards him.

At the time the team investigating Kayihura comprised eight officers; four from police, two from the CMI and two from ISO.

Those from police were Grace Akullo, the Director Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID), as chair, her deputy; Senior Commissioner of Police (SCP) Elly Womanya, and two other police detectives. From ISO, it was Lt. Churchill Mutatina and another, and from CMI, it is the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT) Director, Charles Asiimwe, and another agent.

The team concluded its investigations and submitted its report to President Museveni.

The most significant piece of evidence in this report was a recording in which Kayihura was allegedly talking to the assassin, who ISO claimed was Muhangi.

Kaka had also assembled witnesses who claimed to have participated in the planning and execution of the murder. But when a joint team of investigators from police, ISO and CMI further interrogated the said witnesses, they admitted that ISO operatives had coached them. The investigating team also found that the recording was not authentic. In their report to President Museveni, the joint investigating team concluded that the evidence against Kayihura up until this point was bogus.

"They found the claims against Kale to be fabricated," a source knowledgeable about the investigations told The Independent on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, "They have also recommended that Kayihura's allies who were arrested over the same allegations should be released."

Indeed, when President Museveni was presented with a report from this investigation, he also concluded that the charges were bogus.

Then on Aug.27, a day before Kayihura was granted bail, President Museveni met his family members and told them that the authorities would soon get to the bottom of the issues.

Apart from meeting President Museveni, Kayihura's family also met the Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence and Security, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho, aka, Salim Saleh.

Apparently, Gen. Saleh told them that he had not believed the audio recording, which operatives at the Internal ISO had availed as part of the evidence pinning the police chief in the murder of Kaweesi.

Kayihura would later be released on bail on Aug.27. Since then, some felt that he was on the verge of being a free man.

Indeed, while he was initially not allowed to travel outside Uganda, around the same time, State House aided him as he applied for visas to travel with four others including his wife and a military officer to Germany for medical treatment.

His travel plans were only frustrated when on the day he was supposed to pick his visa from the Germany Embassy in Kampala, he received a phone call informing him that his application had been declined.

Insiders said the former police chief could be facing a travel ban as a result of his work as police chief.

They pointed to the case over the forcefully deportation of a group of Rwandan nationals back to Rwanda, which apparently, President Museveni was forced to act against the police chief and others following complaints from UN diplomats over the same.

This was especially because in March last year, a group of Rwandans took Kayihura to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes against humanity that he allegedly committed along with his men when they forcefully deported a group of Rwandan nationals back to Rwanda.

Also, over the years, several pressure groups both local and in the diaspora have petitioned the U.S. and European Union countries to put travel sanctions against senior security officers in command positions who have been at the centre of human rights violations.

But away from the international trouble, it appeared like Kayihura had less pressure internally. Reports about fresh accusation could mean fresh internal pressure for the former police chief.

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