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Kitatta trial: guard owns recovered firearms

Kitata at the Court Martial on Tuesday

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The General Court Martial heard on Monday that Abdullah Kitatta, the jailed patron of Bodaboda 2010 has never owned an illegal fire arm. This came up during the testimony of Joel Kibirige, the Chairperson of Rubaga Division Bodaboda Cyclists and Kitatta’s police guard Sowali Ngobi.

The duo was testifying as defense witnesses in the General Court Martial chaired by Lt General Andrew Gutti. They are jointly charged with Kitatta and others for illegal possession firearms. They were found in possession of 55 rounds of live ammunition, Golden Pistol and Sub Machine Gun (SMG).

Ngobi told court that on January, 20th, 2018 when they were arrested, they first had a meeting with the former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura before traveling to Nabbingo where Kitatta was visiting his jailed brother, Huzairu Kiwalabye. He says they returned to Kampala and Kitatta informed him that he would have lunch at Vine Hotel Wakaliga where he would also meet some people he didn’t disclose.

According to Ngobi, Kitatta directed him to find some cheap place to eat since he couldn’t afford the cost of food at Vine Hotel. Ngobi explained that he received a phone after walking about 90 meters that the army had sealed off Vine Hotel where he had left Kitatta.

According to Ngobi, he rushed back to the hotel but was asked the by soldiers to identify himself. Ngobi says he pulled out his Police warrant card but the soldiers tried to tear it and ordered him to raise his hands in the air. The officers searched him and recovered his black pistol. Ngobi explained that he later surrendered his SMG rifle and was handcuffed and placed under arrest for unknown detention.

He says the soldiers covered his face and drove him to unknown place where he was locked up until when he appeared in court a month later. State Prosecution led by Major Raphael Mugisha asked Ngobi to explain how he secured the firearms.

Ngobi said he was first assigned the firearms by Siraje Bakaleke in February 2012 during his tenure as Commander of Old Kampala Police Station. He reportedly deployed him to guard Kitatta who had approached police for protection.

He however, told court that the firearms that were displayed in the military court as exhibits weren’t the ones he got from the Old Kampala Police Armory. Ngobi told court that on December, 11th, 2014 he returned the firearms to Old Kampala Police station when he was transferred.

He explains that he was later redeployed by Nixon Agasirwe, the jailed former commander of the Special Operations to guard Kitatta. Ngobi revealed that Agasirwe armed him with a black pistol, SMG, pepper sprays and teargas because he was to guard a high profile person.

The 38-year-old officer who has served in the force since 2006 further told court that most of the exhibits he was found with including, two mobile phones, tears gas and pepper sprays were never presented in court. He told court that the items recovered during their arrest belonged to him and Allan Matsiko who was away on sick leave. Ngobi’s testimony was collaborated by Joel Kibirige.

However, court couldn’t proceed with his testimony because it was late by the time he took to the stand. Despite the fact that Lt, General Andrew Gutti wanted to continue with the court session, prison warders raised objection, saying they can’t check in past 6pm.

As a result, Gen. Gutti adjourned court until February, 11th, 2019 for further hearing.  The other suspects in the court are Fred Bwanika, Amon Twinomujuni, John Sebandeke, Hassan Ssebatta, Matia Senfuka and Hussein Mugema.

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