Acting on a month-long 11-page investigation report, the ministry of Education and Sports has asked police to open criminal investigations into claims that suspended Kibuli Secondary School headmaster, Ali Mugagga, sexually abused several underage female students in three schools where he has been head teacher.
Permanent secretary Alex Kakooza on March 19 wrote to Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola requesting a deeper probe into the unfolding scandal.
The salacious allegations stem from Facebook posts by one Ronald Leonard Egesa dating back to January, claiming that Mugagga had sex with 18 of his students.
Years ago, an unknown number of other girls in Gombe SS and Lubiri SS were also allegedly defiled by the same man during his time as headmaster in both schools, the posts claimed.
On January 20, Egesa posted on his Facebook wall: “If you are a parent of a beautiful girl in Kibuli SS, quickly subject the child to an HIV/Aids test and if they are negative, please counsel them and take them to another school.”
He added: “If you are a close associate of Hajji Mugagga, please advise him to leave education service not later than midday of January 23, 2018. Failure to do so will not only humiliate him, but also bring down all politicians and gullible board members that have been covering up for him.”
Egesa later wrote several posts exposing Mugagga. The head teacher was subsequently interdicted on February 27, 2018 to pave way for investigations by the ministry.
After extended inquiries, the ministry’s committee issued an administrative report which was discussed by the top management committee, resulting in the March referral to police.
“On the weekend of January 20, 2018, information went viral across various social media platforms raising serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr Ali Mugagga,” reads part of Kakooza’s letter to IGP Ochola.
The letter is copied to Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni. It said that “… arising out of the above, I constituted a committee…. The administrative investigation reported some allegations that have some criminality, and hence require your detailed investigation.”
Kakooza asked Ochola to specifically investigate two issues; allegations of sexual misconduct and extortion, and blackmail.
Police inquiries will, therefore, look into findings in the ministry’s report which show that some alleged victims are minors. On extortion, Ochola was informed that the committee learnt that unknown persons called Mugagga demanding Shs 80 million.
According to the administrative report, although one of the victims (names withheld) declined to talk, making it difficult to “substantiate the acts of sexual misconduct by Mugagga against this student”.
This, however, still contravened Section 5(c) of the “teachers professional code of conduct [which] prohibits a sexual relationship with a learner.”
Mugagga was found to accommodate female students at his home in the staff quarters of Kibuli SS. It was established that Mugagga often hosted two female students from the school’s sports team at his residence during holidays, one of whom is listed amongst the alleged victims.
“Mugagga admitted having stayed with both students. He claims one is a relative to the wife, while the other was at the request of his daughter Aisha Naggayi,” says the report.
And this, the committee said, compromised Mugagga’s privileged relationship between himself as a teacher and the learners in line with section 5(3) b of the code of conduct.
On allegations that Mugagga married his student, Sarah Namazzi of Gombe SS, the committee established that Namazzi was a student in Gombe between 2006 and 2011, when Mugagga was the school head teacher there.
Namazzi was later recruited as an intern in the bursar’s office at Lubiri SS in 2012 and stayed with Mugagga in the staff quarters then. The report also says that Mugagga later married Namazzi with the consent of her parents on July 14, 2013.
It was also found that whereas the Kibuli SS board has a disciplinary committee, cases can only be submitted through the head teacher by virtue of him being the board secretary.
Mechanisms for reporting allegations of sexual misconduct in Kibuli, Gombe, and Lubiri are ineffective, the ministry probe discovered.
Very limited documentation could be found on the subject, which contributed to the committee’s inability to substantiate additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Mugagga.
In an interview with The Observer, the spokesman of the police directorate of criminal investigations, Vincent Sekate, described Mugagga’s case as “disturbing”.
Sekate said CID had long interested itself in the case by opening up a general inquiry file at its headquarters in Kibuli but progress is still slow.
“The most complex issue in this case is that allegations on social media were that the victims were so many but only one has so far recorded a statement with us,” Sekate said.
“On the side of the whistleblower, we called him to make formal complaints or statements but he kept dodging us which surprised our investigation team yet he made a lot of noise on social media,” he said.
“Currently, we are stuck because the search for other victims is still on. Instead of people making noise on social media and in the press, they should come and make statements; otherwise short of that, we cannot prosecute the head teacher,” Sekate said.
On April 10 at 5:31pm, Egesa posted a lengthy piece on his Facebook wall indicating that Mugagga had sexually abused 18 students.
“In my meeting with Mugagga on the night of January 28, 2018 in Kololo, he pretended that he could not understand how I arrived at the figure of 18 victims. I took up the challenge and began the count down for him. At number 18 was the girl seated across Mugagga; he consented to having sexually abused her while she was a minor,” Egesa wrote.
After Egesa’s maiden post about Mugagga on January 20, he has so far turned up with one victim who recorded statements at CID headquarters in Kibuli in mid-April.
While Sekate suspects that parents and victims may fear to openly indicate that their children were molested, their statements remain key to the investigation, he said.
On Monday, when asked about Egesa’s claims, Mugagga told The Observer: “I have never communicated with that man and I don’t know him. He has written so many things about me on Facebook including you media people but I am actually fed-up. This is too much on me.”
“If the ministry has completed its report, how I wish I can have an opportunity to glance through it! All the same, I am still on my leave and awaiting any communication from my bosses at the ministry,” he said.
The ministry’s five-man committee which inconclusively looked into the Mugagga affair included; Ismael Mulindwa (commissioner private schools/institutions), Benson Baritazale Kule (commissioner secondary education standards), Angella Nansubuga (administrator/gender unit) and James Sanya (principal human resource officer).
Sam Kuloba (commissioner government secondary education) chaired the inquiry. Terms of reference were: investigate alleged sexual misconduct by Mugagga at Kibuli SS, Lubiri SS and Gombe SS; give preliminary findings within two weeks and advise the permanent secretary on the appropriate course of action.
The investigation started on February 23 and was extended for a further two weeks. At least 24 people were interviewed, and nine administrative and five legal documents were canvassed before the 11-page report was compiled.
At Kibuli SS, persons interviewed included Hajjat Mastula Nambajjwe (acting head teacher), deputy head teachers Juma Waiswa Ndifuna and Muhammed Kamulegeya. Others are Hajjat Sarah Kanyike Ssebaggala (vice chairperson of the board), Hajji Hamis Mukasa Kakomo (chairperson finance committee of the board), Prof Umar Bagampadde (chairperson disciplinary committee of the board), three staff members and Mugagga.
At Lubiri SS, the head teacher, Godfrey Ssentongo, and six of his staff members were interviewed. Among others, in Gombe SS, the head teacher, Ibrahim Lule, one female staffer and Hajjat Yudaya Mukelembeze, now the head teacher of Seeta College (former deputy head teacher under Mugagga at Gombe SS) were talked to.
Others engaged were Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the titular head of Muslims in Uganda, Egesa, the secretary Uganda Muslim Education Association and the chairperson Uganda Young Men’s Muslim Association.
The ministry team also reviewed board minutes and notes of disciplinary committee meetings at Kibuli, Lubiri and Gombe for the last two years; extracts of the whistleblower’s allegations, two student files and personal files of staff of interest, among others.
Meanwhile, also in March, Kibuli Old Students Association (KOSA) had released their independent findings, recommending the sacking of Mugagga.
“There appears to be a cartel of sexual predator staff at the school that preys on girls from poor background, especially using the lure of sports scholarships. All former staff, current staff and members of the public who spoke to the committee regarding sexual abuse allegations live in fear of retribution and mistreatment by the school top management,” reads part of KOSA’s report which was also shared with the ministry.