From inside the high security depths of Makindye Military Police detention facility, former police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura, is reportedly refusing to record a statement until he is allowed to speak with President Museveni.
The general, being held on what sources say is suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, espionage and terrorism, has so far been denied this request, The Observer has been told.
“We allowed Kayihura one phone for receiving calls from his lawyers and his close relatives but not to call. He has persistently requested that he first be allowed to talk to the president and our view is that it is not currently possible for he had time to talk to him before, but he never utilised the chance,” one source familiar with the general’s interview process said on condition of anonymity.
Interviewed for this story, Elison Karuhanga, a lawyer working with Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), the law firm representing the general, said on Tuesday, “As of now no case has been preferred against him and he has never made any statement; we are only waiting for any development to handle it as it comes.”
Asked about Kayihura’s wish to speak to the president, Karuhanga said KAA is willing to facilitate the process. “Once our client tells us that is his wish, we will do everything possible to look for available avenues to make sure the president, if he also wishes, they meet each other,” Karuhanga said.
He said KAA has full instructions from family members and the general himself to represent him. Karuhanga also addressed social media reports pointing to Kayihura’s torture.
“We met our client [Kayihura] and we spoke with him, he did not complain of any torture,” he said.
For the almost 13 years he was at the helm as Inspector General of Police, Kayihura enjoyed quick access to Museveni. Praised as a good ruling party cadre, Kayihura’s fortunes have, however, rapidly diminished since his sacking in March.
The grave offences potentially hanging over his head probably explain why he was reportedly attempting to flee the country, on the day he was allegedly fished out of a car boot in Lake Mburo National Park. He reportedly unsuccessfully tried to send army units hunting him down on a wild goose chase to Kabale – changing cars three times before trying to sneak out in the boot of one vehicle.
Sources say that after the murder of Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga on June 8, Kayihura learned that his time was up. He had retreated to his farm in Kashagama, Lyantonde since March, alternately spending some time in a nearby town.
On June 13, he was arrested. He had reportedly slipped out the back entrance of a hotel where he had been holed up and headed for the western Uganda district of Mbarara.
One source, familiar with the chase, said, “…we found out that Kayihura had placed his known phones in a Toyota Premio and instructed his driver to head to Kabale. Meanwhile, Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi called Brig Kayanja Muhanga, the second division commander and instructed him to deploy and block all roads leading to the Rwandan border,” the source revealed.
As the dragnet tightened, the source said, a Toyota Ipsum car with about three boda bodas riding some distance ahead in the direction of Kabale attracted the attention of the army. It was stopped and searched.
All the main routes towards Rwanda were closed, which forced the former IGP to change course and go through Lake Mburo Park in a bid to reach Tanzania. It was while inside the park that he reportedly jumped into the boot of a ramshackle vehicle.
A boda boda rider reportedly saw this strange exchange and reported to security officers manning Sanga road block. The former police chief was discovered and recovered.
“Brig Muhanga now rushed to the scene and picked Kayihura from the boot, put him in his car, drove him to his [Muhanga’s] home and gave the dirty, tired looking Kayihura water to take a shower. He then reported his arrest to his bosses. The army then re-sent its helicopter to pick him up for an arrest,” added the source.
By press time, The Observer had not independently verified other reports that as he fled, Kayihura was in telephone communication with a senior officer in the military of a neighbouring country.
Possible charges against Kayihura, according to the source, include suspected involvement in the murder of former Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi in March last year; treason, espionage, kidnapping and forced repatriation of Rwandese asylum seekers, among others.
A number of senior police officers close to Kayihura have since been detained as military intelligence clamps down on his network of alleged co-conspirators.