On the night of September 8, Bulenga, a bubbly town in Wakiso district, was thrown in panic as a sudden hail of bullets tore into Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Kirumira, killing him almost instantly together with his friend Resty Mbabazi Nnalinya.
And 26 days after that worst shooting that drew public outrage at the escalating gun violence in the country, a joint team of Internal Security Organization (ISO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) investigators say they have clues including CCTV footage, which offer a view into who killed the former Buyende district police commander.
Kirumira was gunned down with Nnalinya, near Musoke road boda boda stage, just opposite a murram road leading to his home in Bulenga.
Nnalinya was a mobile money attendant in the area. She had just joined Kirumira in his parked car Toyota Corona Reg N0. UAJ 228V moments before bullets rained down. According to sources privy to the investigation, security is making enormous progress.
“We are moving on well but so far all clues point to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) because preliminary investigations indicate that ADF operatives were technically available at the crime scene [Bulenga] at night. The killers took advantage of the situation to destabilize government,” the source said.
Since 2012, at least 19 people including Muslim leaders, sheikhs and high- profile government officials have been assassinated in similar style. Of the 19 deaths by shooting, former IGP Kale Kayihura linked 10 cases to the rebel group, known to have bases in the DR Congo. Our sources said security had randomly picked several people including Flying Squad operatives for interrogation.
“Some people are going to lead us to the right thing while others [including some Flying Squad operatives] have been found to be innocent. We verified both technical and human intelligence and discovered that they were not anywhere near the crime scene or even the people they communicated with that week till the fateful evening,” the source said. “The rest of the clues remain very crucial to get us the killers.”
Yesterday, CMI officers were back at the murder scene with a suspect said to have been part of the killer mission, though he didn’t pull the trigger. The suspect was there to recreate what exactly happened on the fateful night. The suspect also took the officers to Busega market were the killers allegedly regrouped after the shooting.
Two weeks ago, Internal Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo said the investigating team includes officers from ISO, CMI and Uganda Police. Exhibits such as cartridges, heads of projectile and blood samples found at the scene are still with forensics.
However, The Observer has learnt that Kirumira’s family is reluctant to share any information with police or record statements.
“Before his death, Kirumira put it clearly that police has a lot of kawukuumi [weevils], we agreed not to share anything with them [police] apart from other security agencies,” said a family member who declined to be named. “Unless those [other investigators] we give information will share it with them, we shall not cooperate with police on anything in this investigation.”
So far, other clues, which are under intense scrutiny, include CCTV footage, which shows what happened moments before the shooting, when Kirumira showed up at his usual parking lot.
Another critical footage obtained by the team, should have offered a view of the whole stretch of the road up to the point where Kirumira was gunned down. But surprisingly, that whole footage is blank and investigators are looking into what happened to the pictures. Were they intentionally deleted, and why?
In the video that captures activity at the night car park, Kirumira, on the fateful night, is seen approaching his usual parking lot – located near Musoke road (where he was killed) – from Busega in his Toyota Corona.
The Mityana main road is a little dark but flood lights at this parking lot offer enough light for one to see and recognise his car.
Footage shows Kirumira parking at the entrance with the red hind lights still on. At this point, about six vehicles are inside the parking lot and Kirumira’s spot just near the entrance was occupied by another vehicle, a white Noah.
Some vehicles were parked on the side while two vehicles blocked the entrance on the inside. The front car had no attendant while the one behind was being washed by three people. Shortly after, a person starts pointing at the cars like he is directing someone but his words are not clearly audible.
It remains unclear whether he was pointing at Kirumira’s car outside. When Kirumira approached the parking lot, a Bajaj Boxer boda boda rider with no passenger is also seen approaching his car from Mityana road side and parks near the co-driver side. Sources believe that when Kirumira realised that the parking entrance was blocked, he made a U-turn and headed back in the direction of Kampala.
The same boda boda is seen riding close to Kirumira’s car as he joined the main road. It’s a two to three-minutes’ walk from the parking lot to the spot where he eventually parked by the roadside and was killed.
On the fateful day, eyewitnesses, mainly boda boda riders, said the four assassins used two sport bikes without lights and number plates. About seven of them tried to chase the killers up to a place known as Ku Mwenda but the attackers shot twice and dispersed them.
The Observer understands that investigators are still working with this footage to get clear pictures of what followed after Kirumira left the parking lot. According to a family member, Kirumira had used this parking lot for a while and he was often afraid of being assassinated from this spot. Every day before Kirumira parked his car, he often engaged in small talk with boda boda riders at the stage or car attendants before walking on foot to his home.
“If these people wanted to kill Kirumira, they had all the possible targets. He would walk alone from that parking to home yet there are no security lights on the way. Although there are so many houses around that if he screamed he would get help, he didn’t mind walking late in the night,” a source said.
In a twist of events, investigators tried to get more footage from the same location on a different building but its footage from September 7 to 9, 2018 was missing.
“We are trying to connect dots to see how this happened. When you check footage for September 6 and days before [the killing, pictures] are there but for the period Kirumira was killed [footage] is missing,” said the source.
When the owner of the cameras was interrogated, he said there was a period when the camera was faulty and asked a technician to fix it. Further interrogation showed that the technician was a police officer, but a known friend to the owner of the cameras. This prompted security to take the entire storage system of the CCTV for more investigations.
As investigations take shape, a man whose names and location have been withheld has been contacting Kirumira’s father, Abubaker Kawooya. The man is outside Kampala but claims he knows Kirumira’s killers.
We understand that he has given the family strict dos and don’ts if they are to meet. For instance, Kawooya has been warned against involving any security operatives. Kawooya, however, according to people in the know, is still reluctant to meet the man.
Meanwhile, two days after Kirumira’s death, security operatives arrested a suspicious man at the family vigil. Upon interrogation, the man said he was a State House spy sent by Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde to assess how government can assist Kirumira’s widow and her children’s education.
“This man had a lot of conflicting information. When we teased him that we were calling Tumukunde, he told us he doesn’t know him but asked for forgiveness,” a source said. The source adds that the man claimed to be a resident of Bulenga but failed to locate his rented house in the area.
It has since been discovered that the man is an impostor who will soon be arraigned in court on various charges. On the fateful day, Kirumira had attended three different occasions in Nsangi, Kawuku and Kajjansi. Kirumira’s younger brother, Baker Kuteesa, said at all the functions; two introduction ceremonies and a meeting for LC-I chairmen, there were no signs of persons keeping a tail on them.
The deceased’s mother, Sarah Namuddu, said her son had been getting death threats but he took them lightly. Early this year, Kirumira filed a complaint at Lungujja police station of a boda boda trailing him. The file was referenced as SD Ref: 43/28/02/2018.