Kayihura in trouble: The story behind arrest of top cops, the Rwanda twist
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | Days after it happened, the scene at the army General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala, on Oct.27 remains unforgettable.
Seven police officers; among them a few very senior ones, were paraded for trial for alleged kidnap and unlawful possession of firearms.
Quite unusually, journalists were invited to cover the proceeding and allowed unprecedented freedom to film the suspects as they emerged from the back of a covered army truck and climbed the steep flight of steps of the court house.
Whoever organised the event was determined to send out a message. Typical of men of the force, the suspects filed out of the truck in order of rank. Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, stepped out of the truck first. He is the most senior and seeing this commandant of the police Professional Standards Unit in handcuffs spoke volumes.
But all eyes were on the man who followed him off the truck; Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe. A huge 6-foot something man, the former commander of the police’s notorious Special Operations Unit, Agasirwe was once called the “butcher of Nalufenya” for the manner in which he allegedly tortured suspects at the dreaded Nalufenya Police Station, which has been turned into a torture complex.
As he stepped off the truck in handcuffs, with a tiny bottle of water in his hand, he sweated slightly and was pensive; almost worried – as if dreaded that what he has done to others for years, would now be meted on him.
Agasirwe has been a feared man on the force, partly because he has been seen as the enforcer of the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura. His arrest and detention is a message.
That the operation to arrest the officers targeted people closest to Kayihura in the police force and was conducted by his foes from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and the Internal Security Organisation shows the depth of Kayihura’s misery.
But what makes Kayihura’s reign as police boss look shaky at the moment are reports that President Yoweri Museveni, personally planned this move over a long time. Part of the plan to encircle Kayihura reportedly involved Museveni’s powerful brother Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh, and the tough Minister for Security, Gen. Henry Tumukunde.
The General Court Martial (GCM) trial is being seen as a climax of a long term plan by Museveni to reclaim control of the security forces from Kayihura, insiders have told The Independent.
The choice of the Court Martial signals that the authorities are taking the case seriously and are keen to detain the suspects for a while. While in the civilian courts, the suspects could have easily secured bail, military law is stricter.
Museveni’s handlers claim he became concerned that Uganda’s internal security system had become heavily compromised by the men on trial and others on the loose.
The seven on trial include SSP Nixon Agasirwe, SCP Joel Aguma, Assistant Superintendent of Police James Magada of Crime Intelligence, Benon Atwebembeire, Sgt Abel Tumukunde, and Faisal Katende of the Kampala Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, and Special Police Constable Amon Kwarisima.
These men are said to have been very close to Kayihura and their arrest is seen as an unprecedented indictment of him.
They were supposed to be 12 but five were yet to be netted, a source intimated. And of the five, the official added, two have disappeared.
One of the five is Jonathan Baroza, a former Aide to Gen. Kayihura.