By Independent Team
Francis Nuwagaba hails from Kyogo-Kafunjo village, Nyakaina parish, Buyanja sub-county in Rukungiri district. His father is Anselmo Byarugaba.
On May 3, an unknown man is alleged to have climbed over the wall fence of the residence of Security Minister Amama Mbabazi in Kololo and was shot dead by the military guards as he tried to flee. That is the official version of the police.
However nobody, be it the police or any other security agency, has told the country the man’s identity or his motive. Initial information suggested a failed attempt on Mbabazi’s life.
However, emerging information discredits the assassination claim. So was this man an assassin or a victim of a collapsed social relationship?
Since the day of the shooting, The Independent has undertaken a two-week extensive trail, right from the scene of crime in Kololo to the dead man’s home. It has established his identity and parents.
The man’s names are Francis Nuwagaba from Kyogo-Kafunjo village, Nyakaina parish, Buyanja sub-county in Rukungiri district. His father is Anselmo Byarugaba. When The Independent visited his home, Byarugaba confirmed that Francis Nuwagaba was his son but he had not seen his body nor did he know what exactly happened.
‘Yes, Francis Nuwagaba is my son. But I can’t confirm whether he is dead or not because we have not seen his dead body apart from security operatives who came here with a newspaper picture of his dead body. We could not easily identify the body because we, as a family, have taken many years without seeing him,’ Byarugaba said.
He said that Nuwagaba became unruly in the early stages of his childhood. He said that by Primary Two, Nuwagaba had started stealing people’s property including chicken.
‘Omwana akaturema kare,’ Byarugaba said in Runyakore meaning; that boy became unruly long time ago. He said his son would disappear from home and come back from time to time before going away again. For that reason, he did not know much about his son’s life.
Byarugaba said that the security operatives who came to his home last week included the Gombolola (sub-county) Internal Security Officer one Kamagara. They, however, did not tell the deceased’s family what exactly happened to their son.
‘We don’t know anything about Nuwagaba whether he died long ago or not because nobody has come here to officially explain the circumstances that led to his shooting apart from press reports and the security operatives who came to ask whether he was our son,’ Byarugaba said remorsefully.
The family has not held any funeral because they have scanty information and are also waiting for the body.
The Independent‘s investigations revealed that Nuwagaba was a soldier in the UPDF 2nd Division in Mbarara but deserted the army in about 2004. It was not readily established what he had been doing up to the time of his death.
His father said that Nuwagaba having disappeared about 15 years ago, returned home around 2006. He stayed for a short time and disappeared again. He did not hear anything about his son again until his picture appeared in the press following the May 7 shooting. Asked whether Nuwagaba had ever been a soldier or had any link with Mbabazi, the grieving Byarugaba said he knew nothing about that.
‘If they [government] want to imprison us because of our son, let them come but nobody in the family or village knows much about him. He last came here about two years ago. And when he came, he looked a fugitive and members of the family had to hide their money and phones. He later disappeared,’ the father said.
However, the local residents said Nuwagaba disappeared from the village in 2006 after he allegedly killed a neighbour, Tugume aka Kiberi.
‘Kiberi was their neighbour and used to fry popcorns before Nuwagaba hit him with an iron bar after a bar brawl killing him instantly, he fled since then,’ a resident who preferred anonymity told The Independent in Buyanja.
When contacted, the area LC-I chairman, Dennis Kyohangiirwe confirmed the suspicion about Nuwagaba’s culpability in Tugume’s death.
‘We highly believe that Nuwagaba is the one who killed Kiberi because they were together when he died before he fled about two years ago,’ Kyohangiirwe said.
He echoed Byarugaba’s statement that Nuwagaba disappeared from the village long ago and there was no information that he had ever been a soldier.
So where does this leave the version that Nuwagaba was a former soldier?
The fact that Nuwagaba had disappeared from his home for more than 15 years and they did not know where he was and what he was doing, could explain why the residents and the parents might not have known his service in the military.
Secondly, since he had deserted the army in 2004, according to information from reliable security sources, upon his return he could have kept the information about his military service to himself to avoid arrest for desertion. Since he stayed for a short time and disappeared again, suggests why his parents and the residents might not have had the opportunity to learn of his engagement in the army.
The Kololo shooting incident has since raised several theories regarding the motive of the deceased’s entry into Mbabazi’s residence. But it has also sparked a puzzle of how the man scaled the high metal-spiked perimeter brick wall, into the compound which is guarded by about 30 armed soldiers. Mbabazi is probably the most heavily guarded minister in this country. The Independent has woven together information that points to the circumstances surrounding the shooting and how the man could have gained entry into the minister’s residence.
The UPDF spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye declined to comment on whether Nuwagaba was an army deserter. ‘Have you ever received a statement from me about that case? I am not briefed about that matter,’ Kulayigye said in a tone that did not invite further questions.