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‘How I met Sobi, the gang leader pinning police to city crime’

NBS journalist Twaha Mukiibi was badly beaten by police officers

NBS television journalist Twaha Mukiibi was last week admitted at Kampala hospital after being beaten up by police during an on-camera interview with Paddy Sserunjogi aka Sobi, a self-confessed former leader of the notorious Kifeesi criminal gang.

Sobi was arrested, but later released after other security services said he was cooperating in an ongoing investigation. His arrest set off a chain of events which culminated in the weekend military crackdown on leaders of Boda Boda 2010, a vigilante group-turned-violent-crime racket whose leader Abdallah Kitatta is close to police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura.

The Observer spoke to Mukiibi at his home in Busabala, Wakiso district, after leaving hospital.

The journey

“Last year I was assigned to do a story about petty thieves in the city. Katwe offered a good opportunity because this city suburb is notorious for harbouring petty thieves. Some of these criminals have previously shown no fear of speaking on camera about their activities.

While there, I met one Ssebulime, who described himself as a gang leader in Katwe. After the story aired, Ssebulime was so happy that when his group later had a meeting with police near Queen’s Way, Mukiibi was invited to cover.”

At the meeting attended by the then police commandant for Kampala East, Siraje Bakireke and Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Frank Mwesigwa, the Kifeesi criminal gang agreed to work with police.

On Christmas Eve 2017, Ssebulime once again called, inviting Mukiibi to a press conference.

“He asked me to mobilise for him other journalists to cover the story,” Mukiibi says.

At the agreed venue, Ssebulime introduced Mukiibi to a one Lukyamuzi.

“I later learnt that he worked in one of the security offices I’m not comfortable mentioning. It is this Lukyamuzi who took me to a gang he said Sobi headed,” Mukiibi says.

Mukiibi says Sobi boasted about his dealings with police, and how he has killed, robbed and terrorised Kampala for years. He promised Kampalans a crime-free festive season.

Sobi said he is now a born-again Christian on a crusade to woo his former mates off the streets.

“He revealed that he and wanted to give up [crime] earlier; had tried to work with police but was disappointed to meet more criminals in police,” Mukiibi says. 

Sobi told the assembled journalists that he later met a general who convinced him to abandon thuggery.

“He also designed a proposal to help his colleagues to also abandon criminality…” Mukiibi quotes Sobi as saying.

When the interview aired, there was a backlash against police who vehemently denied Sobi’s claims. Later in the New Year, NBS decided to interview Sobi again. Mukiibi was again asked to do the interview. But somehow police got to know.

“…When we left office, nobody knew the exact place where the interview was going to take place. I kept on briefing Sobi where we were and finally we settled for Rose gardens after Busega,” Mukiibi says.

Less than five minutes after they had parked at the gardens, a double-cabin pickup truck parked behind them, raising suspicion of their driver who moved their vehicle to another spot where they could easily get away.

Shortly, Sobi arrived with two friends and headed for the rooftop of a building where the interview was to take place.

“Sobi asked us what we wanted to know now,” Mukiibi says.

Then all hell broke loose. Police pounced on Sobi and his colleagues, while three others went for Mukiibi.

“They beat me everywhere; they handcuffed me and then sprayed me with teargas. While all this happened, I put up my hands and I told them I was a journalist. They continued beating me. What you see on TV is very little of what happened,” Mukiibi says.

Police claim the beating was a result of mistaken identity but Mukiibi disagrees.

“None of them was deaf or blind, I was shouting that I’m a journalist and I had my ID hanging around my waist. So, they knew exactly what they were doing. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that I was a criminal; when you put up your hands, it means that you have surrendered,” Mukiibi says.

Mukiibi remembers how terrified he was when the police commander, Peter Ochieng, issued an order to shoot.

“The person holding the gun saw his colleagues and [hesitated]. I hid behind a policeman and maybe that is how I survived,” Mukiibi said. “I’m worried; I don’t know what Sobi and his colleagues are thinking. I pray that he knows that I was never party to the scheme that trapped him”.

bakerbatte@observer.ug

Comments

+1 #1 Odongkara 2018-01-29 17:15
A rogue state is Uganda where the police has been infiltrated by criminals as the "owner" president Museveni has publicly admitted, do you doubt what Sobi has confessed?

I don't either.
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0 #2 Ugthinker 2018-01-29 22:13
Ugandans is so interesting, given the power the media wields, why do they let security agencies terrorise them????

I think there must be some hypocrisy within media houses owners and their workforce, otherwise I don’t see how the media can fail to reign in security, I mean corporately but also individuals in security can easily be made to feel the heat.

Very very easily if there’s will and within between the media fraternity. These are criminals, which makes even easier to roast!
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+1 #3 Lakwena 2018-01-30 09:54
Quoting Ugthinker:
Ugandans is so interesting, given the power the media wields, why do they let security agencies terrorise them????

I think there must be some hypocrisy within media houses owners and their workforce, otherwise I don’t see how the media can fail to reign in security, I mean corporately but also individuals in security can easily be made to feel the heat.

Very very easily if there’s will and within between the media fraternity. These are criminals, which makes even easier to roast!


But you Ugthinker, what do you expect when the police boss and his immediate lieutenants' names are on the Uganda Mafias Godfather's Payroll?

In other words, "Power is more important than the law" (Kitatta).

Eish!
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0 #4 WADADA rogers 2018-01-30 12:10
90% of the people manning our security are either thugs or prostitutes while the rest are foreigners
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0 #5 Lakwena 2018-01-30 15:12
Quoting WADADA rogers:
90% of the people manning our security are either thugs or prostitutes while the rest are foreigners


Wadada, you are suggesting that we have surrendered the destiny of our country to thugs, prostitutes (political) and the marauding aliens from Rwanda, Burindi, DR Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
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0 #6 miki 2018-01-30 17:15
Sobi was arrested not because of his chilling details of the killing, maiming, robbing and the terror he has inflicted on Ugandans in partnership with the very government supposed to protect them.

He was arrested for spilling the beans - that he was a creation of this NRM government, and that his influence reached as far as the highest office in the land -State House.

As long as Sobi struck terror in the hearts of Ugandans, President Museveni remained relevant as the consoler in chief at the funerals of some of Sobi's victims.

As for the disgraced Inspector General of Police, Sobi's activities meant allocation of more funds for the police operation budget which Kayihura single handedly manages. You cant make this stuff up.
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0 #7 miki 2018-01-30 17:27
From Sobi's account so far, it appears like there was a pact that the white collar criminals, olive green and khaki clad criminals controlled the government while the Sobiis and Kitattas controlled the city streets and the country side.

This seemed okay as long as Sobi remained in the shadows. But now he is talking Sobi must have realized that someone may try to silence him forever. That is why he is talking.

Otherwise how can one expect to walk away scot free after admitting to multiple murders, maiming, robberies and oft times lending a hand to brutalize President Museveni's political enemies.

Sobi comfirmed that Uganda is under the jack boot of a vicious Mafia. Sobi broke his 'omerta' - the law of silence- and in Mafia organizations that is bigger than any crimes one commits.
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0 #8 Willy 2018-01-30 23:19
Who is going to redeem the Uganda police?
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