Questions asked about business, politics, religious rivalry
The murder of Maj. Sheikh Mohammed Kiggundu, 52, a renowned Muslim cleric, who had denounced rebel activity and joined the army, has re-awakened fear of targeted killings.
The husband of four and father of 12 was shot dead together with his escort, Sgt. Steven Mukasa, by assailants riding on motor bikes on Mengo-Masanafu road off the northern bypass at around 6:00 AM.
People familiar with his movements say he was driving to participate in a radio talk show. They add that his killers appear to have trailed him from his home.
Witness accounts indicate that they first shot the behind tires of the army green pickup truck, with army number plates, he was driving causing it to veer off the road before spraying it with bullets.
Kigundu’s escort was shot first as he attempted to fight back. A cornered Kiggundu then got out of his car, and raised his hands in surrender. He was sprayed with bullets.
If their objective was to send a signal, observers say, they left no doubt about their intentions.
Kiggundu’s murder brings to about 10, the number of muslin clerics that have been shot dead in similar fashion and over 20, the number of gun-related homicides.
Kiggundu’s slaying pushed off the headlines the high profile case in which businessman Mathew Kanyamunyu, his girlfriend Cynthia Munwanguri and his brother Joseph Kanyamunyu are accused of shooting dead one Kenneth Akena. While the circumstances surrounding the Kanyamunyu case are different from the Kiggundu case, both cases have mounted insurmountable pressure on the police with the public demanding answers.
The cases have also reawakened concerns over the increased proliferation of guns in Uganda for which they partly blame the homicides. In Kiggundu’s case, police have arrested another Muslic cleric; leader of the Tabliq Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje, to assist with investigations.
They have also linked the shooting of Kiggundu to rebel group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which he temporarily belonged to before joining the UPDF.
Police spokesperson, Felix Kaweesi explained that Mwanje was arrested because of the utterances he made against some Muslim leaders, including Kiggundu before the latter was murdered in cold blood.
But critics are jumping on the statement by Kaweesi, to say that Mwanje’s arrest was a knee jerk reaction and not a result of proper investigations.
There are also concerns that the attention and investigations into Kiggundu’s murder appear to have been overshadowed by the conflict in Kasese between security forces and the royal guards of King Charles Mumbere of the Rwenzururu Kindgom in South Western Uganda.
These concerns build on the fact that the case of the sheikhs already charged with previous murders is yet to be resolved and police is also yet to nail the murderer of Joan Kagezi, the Assistant Director of Public Prosecution at the war crimes division of the High Court, who was killed in a similar fashion.
Kagezi was also the lead prosecutor in a case, in which Muslim leaders, a Ugandan doctor based in Australia; Aggrey Kiyingi, and several sheikhs are accused of masterminding the murder of other sheiks. This case has spawned a string of related targeted killings. But two years down the road, Police has yet to provide any evidence linking Kagezi’s killers to this specific case.
But as the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions at the war crimes division of the High Court, Kagezi also prosecuted other high profile cases.
The other case she was prosecuting was that involving the 13 suspects of the 2010 twin bomb attacks in Kampala. Al shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in which over 80 lives were lost, and Kagezi was due in court the next day when she was bumped off.
These were not the only high profile cases she had dealt with. Kagezi had been a lead prosecutor in several high profile murder cases and could have been any of these suspect’s target. This is why police’s answers were not readily accepted. To date, the Kagezi’s murder is yet to be cracked.
Matters are not helped by the fact that in the past, authorities have not been very successful in resolving several other high profile murders including that of another prosecutor, Robinna Kiyingi, who was also gunned down by assailants riding on a motorbike just in front of her gate. Her husband, Kiyingi who is now being linked to the string of sheik murders was accused of ordering her contract killing. He was acquitted.
But shortly before Kagezi was gunned down, police was for months grappling with a string of killings of prominent sheikhs.