Uganda: Why Museveni Ordered Raid On Iso Safe Houses

26 October 2020

New details emerging show the raid by the Special Forces Command and Military Intelligence operatives on the safe houses run by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in Kisaasi in Kampala and Kyengera, Wakiso District in July, were triggered by a missing student of Uganda Christian University Mukono.

Mr Abraham Sule went missing on March 21, 2019 in Kyaliwajjala, Wakiso District, and his relatives have been looking for him for the last 19 months.

The raid on the ISO safe houses came after Sule's father, Mr Peter Othieno, wrote to President Museveni and told him his missing son had been seen by people who claimed they had been detained with him in the same safe houses.

In an interview with Sunday Monitor, Mr Othieno said he got information late last year and early this year that his son was being moved between different safe houses in Kalangala, Wakiso and Kampala districts.

"The different people we talked to, including those who were detained with him in the same safe houses, identified him after showing them his photos and they told us he was in the ISO safe houses," he said.

He said a former detainee in a Kyengera safe house told him his son was there, but he was later transferred to Kalangala with a group of 39 others.

"We contacted someone in Kalangala, who could easily access the safe house there and we gave him Sule's photo. He identified him and told us he was there. We started having hope that maybe soon he would be released," Mr Othieno said.

He said they got information that Sule was kidnapped over a love affair with a girl who also had relations with a former top ISO operative.

The family was later told Sule had been transferred from Kalangala to another safe house in Nakifuma, Mukono District.

"After that, we lost touch because those who were helping us to know where he was and trying to get him out, were threatened by top ISO operatives," he said.

Mr Othieno said the family was shocked that even a suspect who was found with Sule's phone in Mbalwa, Wakiso District, was charged with a lighter case of phone theft by the police before he was released on police bond.

"A few days after he disappeared, police did surveillance and found that someone was using his phone and the first suspect found with the phone was a one Katerega," he said.

After Katerega was interrogated, he told police that he had bought the phone from someone only identified as Ssemambo, who was also arrested.

"However, the key suspect was charged with theft, leaving the primary line of investigation unconcluded," Mr Othieno wrote to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) on January 28.

Ssemambo told police that he had picked up Sule's phone from the roadside.

Sule's grandmother, Ms Ketula Ajwang Mende, had earlier written to President Museveni about his missing grandson on December 2, 2019.

"Your Excellency, with great pain, sorrow and grief, I cry for help and rescue of my grandson. The boy is a Second Year Law student at Uganda Christian University," her letter reads, in part.

After Ms Mende's letter to the President, SSP Fred Mirondo wrote on behalf of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to the Director of Criminal Investigations Directorate urging her to investigate the release of Katerega and SSemambo.

SSP Mirondo also asked the CID to investigate allegations that the student was kidnapped over a love affair.

"The major concern in the complaint and what definitely forms the basis of discomfort are the circumstances under which that very suspect was released without getting or rescuing the victim. The concern is that the father of the victim suspects him to have been arrested by ISO operatives in what they term to be over a love affair," SSP Mirondo wrote on December 11, 2019.

The family also claims that Kampala Metropolitan police commander Moses Kafeero interfered with the investigations.

The police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga, when contacted on the matter on Thursday, referred us to Mr Mansio Twino, the spokesperson of CID, who said Mr Kafeero is a professional police officer who cannot interfere with any police investigations.

"I know they could be speaking out of emotions because their son has been missing. But we don't want to be diverted from the main issue of finding the boy whether dead or alive," Mr Twino said.

Mr Twino said the investigations are still ongoing and "it's work in progress". He said the two suspects who were found in possession of Mr Sule's phone were released on police bond.

"Our actions are guided by the law. What is true is that we arrested those boys because they were found in possession of the phone. But investigations showed evidence of theft (that they had just stolen the phone)," Mr Twino said. He said the police is trying hard to find Mr Sule in any way or form.

"We appeal to all Ugandans who could be having any information that can lead to his recovery, to aid the police," he said.

On the issue whether police is investigating ISO operatives for the kidnap over an alleged love affair, Mr Twino said: "There is no theory that has been brought to us and has not been investigated. But the theory of love affair does not hold any water to us. The most important thing is to find the boy."

In July, President Museveni ordered a raid on the ISO safe houses but Mr Sule wasn't found.

Before the raid, Mr Othieno said he met President Museveni and during the meeting, security operatives under the President's office were ordered to open another line of investigation but the investigations have not yielded much.

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