Two days after unidentified gun-wielding men violently rearrested suspects in the broad daylight murder of Andrew Felix Kaweesi, a former assistant inspector general of police, the army finds itself sucked further into current tensions haunting security circles.
The suspects appear to have become the latest pawn in what looks like a turf war amidst inter-agency rivalry, even as their lawyers yesterday filed an application of habeas corpus in the High court, demanding their immediate release.
In the aftermath of their rearrest, army spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire had said the military carried out the operation jointly with other unnamed security agencies.
But his position came under fresh scrutiny yesterday when the police refused to have anything to do with the operation that has been strongly condemned by rights activists and the Uganda Law Society.
On Thursday morning, police spokesman Asan Kasingye told The Observer that since Karemire has acknowledged the army’s involvement, every question should be directed to him.
“You heard Karemire the other day saying that they have them,” Kasingye said, “Please go ahead and ask him where they put them [suspects].”
In Kasingye’s response, one could hear undertones of the unspoken tension between police and the army. That unease first came into public view following the surprise arrest of senior police officers by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence two weeks ago.
There is an active and wide-ranging military investigation into suspected criminal and possibly treacherous activities of high-profile police personnel.
Karemire has defended the use of the shabbily-dressed individuals, saying that as long as they were security operatives, then the rearrest was legal.
Later, Karemire said the four suspects were deposited at the police’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka, just outside Kampala, only for the police to deny this.
Attempts to reach Karemire for an explanation – in response to Kasingye’s statements – were futile as his cell phone was switched off after he told The Observer to get back to him shortly.
The suspects’ lawyers yesterday filed a habeas corpus application through which a person reports an unlawful detention, and requests an order directing that they be produced in court.
Umaru Maganda, Ahmed Ssenfuka, Ibrahim Kisa, and Abdul Majidu Ojeger were granted bail on Tuesday by Nakawa court grade one magistrate, Noah Ssajjabi.
Their freedom was short-lived as unidentified men brandishing pistols snatched them as they headed home on boda bodas.
One of the armed men dressed in a dirty jacket pointed a gun at a wailing Senfuka who was half-naked after his clothes were torn off his body during the struggle. He was violently shoved into a car and driven to an unknown destination.
Ssajjabi had released seven of the suspects, reasoning that since their first appearance in court on April 21, the Director of Public Prosecutions has not committed them to the High court for trial.
“Basing on Article 23 of the Constitution which says that a person who spends six months on remand, without being committed [for trial gets] a mandatory bail,” the magistrate said.
“However, under this article, court is given discretion to set bail terms. All sureties are to pay Shs 500 million and the suspects Shs 50 million, all non-cash.”
Others released but not rearrested are Hassan Tusiime, Ibrahim Kisa, Asuman Mugoye, Abdul Hamid Magambo and Musa Ntende. The habeas corpus application filed by Wameli & Company Advocates says Ssenfuka and his colleagues are being held “incommunicado”.
“The applicants have not been produced before any court and/or formally charged in any court and their continued detention is unlawful and unconstitutional,” the lawyers contend.
It is supported by an affidavit sworn by Mutwalibi Muganda, brother to Umaru Muganda. Mutwalibi’s affidavit recounts the events of November 7. He says upon release of the suspects, unidentified men in plain-clothes, carrying small and big guns unlawfully rearrested them without any reason.
“That police authorities have invariably indicated to me that the applicants are being held at several places including Kireka SIU and Nalufenya but my efforts to trace them at any of those stations have been and continue to be futile,” Mutwalibi says.
The suspects were scheduled to reappear before the Nakawa court on November 23.
It is alleged that on March 17, 2017, at Kulambiro in Kampala, the accused shot and killed Kaweesi, together with his driver and bodyguard. They are charged with murder, terrorism and robbery of their victims’ guns.