The widening Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence investigation into police has claimed more scalps of senior officers, sending a huge panic wave within the force’s rank and file.
As the dragnet spreads, six officers have been placed under lock and key at Makindye maximum security military police facility on the outskirts of central Kampala, sources revealed.
By yesterday, insider sources said CMI and Internal Security Organisation agents had been dispatched to the notorious Nalufenya police station in Jinja to arrest yet another senior police officer there.
Other operatives were almost simultaneously on board a flight to Algeria to retrieve Joseph Baroza, a former assistant to Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.
Baroza is presently a police liaison officer at Uganda’s mission there assigned with monitoring, informing and implementing exchange programmes on African Police Cooperation Mechanism (Afripol) such as trainings, visits and others.
Herbert Muhangi, the commandant of the Flying Squad, a unit dedicated to combatting violent crime, was according to sources, interrogated but later released. Muhangi neither picked nor returned our calls yesterday.
Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, the commandant of the police Professional Standards Unit; Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe, the former special operations unit boss at Nalufenya in Jinja district; Faisal Katende, an operative in the flying squad; Assistant Superintendent of Police Magada (crime intelligence); AIP Mpambuzo, Sgt Abel Tumukunde, the Kampala Metropolitan Police flying squad commander, and Ali Kabanda, a flying squad operative, are being held at Makindye Military Police Barracks.
Agasirwe, Baroza and Katende are reportedly suspects in the aggravated robbery and murder of an Eritrean businessman. Deniel Weldo was killed in cold blood in December 2016. His killers then tried to steal two million euros (Shs 8bn) from his account operated in Stanbic bank.
The 32-year-old man had operated his business from South Sudan. He left that troubled country for Uganda after renewed armed conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former first Vice president Riek Machar.
Aguma is being investigated for allegedly engaging in subversive acts, including colluding with foreign security agents to abduct and forcibly return Rwandan political asylum seekers/refugees to Rwanda.
According to insider police sources, these dark dealings came to light when former flying squad operator Ali Kabanda reportedly fell out with colleagues. He started telling all and sundry that his life was in danger. Sources say that Kabanda took to social media to highlight these alleged threats to his life.
Soon, CMI reportedly took interest in his case and approached him. Military intelligence offered to protect him in exchange for what he knew.
Kabanda allegedly blew the lid on how a Rwandan double agent, who had spied on both Uganda and Rwanda, was eliminated. Kabanda’s information was that this double agent picked information on Uganda and fed through channels that purportedly ended at the desk of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and vice versa.
The agent, sources say, was known in well-placed political and intelligence circles in Uganda. But he was killed on Ugandan soil and his body dumped in Kisoro district, which borders Rwanda not long after Kigali learnt he was double dealing.
According to Kabanda, the killing was done by top Ugandan police operatives at the urging of their Rwandan counterparts.
When President Museveni learnt of the agent’s death years ago, he assumed the Rwandans had done the hatchet job.
But years later, Kabanda was singing a completely different tune about that death. When CMI got this useful information, they passed it on to the president. The president reportedly invited police chief Kale Kayihura and asked whether he knew that his officers were accused of bumping off the spy.
Kayihura, sources said, promised to investigate. But CMI again advised the president that Kayihura might not be a reliable investigator as he is part and parcel of the very police now under suspicion.
On second thought, the president asked Kayihura to drop the investigation. He later asked CMI and ISO to investigate.
As the investigation widened, more aspects cropped up, including the forced repatriation of Rwandese nationals (some of them on the run from Kigali security) and the murder of the Eritrean.
All these crimes reportedly pointed at senior police officers. As CMI tightens the noose, police officers are in a state of panic.
Interviewed, several police officers, who declined to be named, said yesterday they don’t know who will be picked next.
“We don’t know what is going on in police now. Most of the officers have been picked by CMI and arrested without clear charges. We don’t know how and where they are detained. We are living in fear because we don’t know who will be picked next…,” a source said.
One officer said if CMI operatives turn up at his gate without clear charges, he will fight them.
“The moment I see them, I will first let my dogs attack them before firing at them. They shouldn’t arrest us anyhow over unexplained issues,” the officer said.
Another officer said most police officers have been arrested by plainclothes soldiers and taken to unknown places where they could have been tortured.
“We are hearing rumours that the arrested officers were investigated for many cases including murders, business deals that went wrong, robberies and issues of deportation of Rwandese and South Sudanese refugees,” a source said.
Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye confirmed the arrests yesterday and said senior police staff are rattled because army personnel are not explaining why they are arresting these individuals, and where they are holding them.
“They are just picking people; we don’t know what they are investigating and where they are taking them. We also don’t know how many they need. Let CMI and UPDF explain why they are arresting police officers and on what charges…,” Kasingye said at the police headquarters.
UPDF spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire didn’t pick his phone calls but has been quoted elsewhere saying the army is not holding any police officer.
Col Frank Bagyenda Kaka, the ISO boss, didn’t give away much when interviewed yesterday.
“In fact we shall arrest you. You are interrupting our investigations. It’s not right when we are investigating such sensitive issues and you put them in papers. You are not doing good service to the public,” he said.