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Why Siraje Bakaleke vanished

Siraje Bakaleke

Siraje Bakaleke

An outstanding police warrant of arrest for Bakaleke is a shocking reputational collapse for a once fast rising assistant commissioner of police. So how did he fall afoul of the law?

As a police investigation began tying him to the extortion of about Shs 1.5 billion from two South Korean nationals last year, Bakaleke began to panic. He feared for his life and he voiced his fears publicly.

While paying tribute to fallen Assistant Superintendent of Police Mohammad Kirumira, who was killed in a hail of bullets last September, Bakaleke told mourners at Old Kampala mosque that he would be the next police officer to be felled by an assassin’s bullet. Days later Bakaleke vanished from public view. In hiding he found a way to be heard. In an interview by telephone, Bakaleke said he fled the country because he feared for his life.

He said three police officers wanted him dead. He said he wasn’t afraid of the charges brought against him but that he skipped town to save his life. Before the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court, Bakaleke is accused of abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud, kidnapping with intent to confine a person and conspiracy to commit a felony.

In the most recent warrant of arrest issued on April 25, police is appealing for information leading to the arrest of its fugitive assistant commissioner. Shortly before he escaped, Bakaleke told this reporter that he can prove that the charges against him are trumped up brought to punish him for being loyal to sacked former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura.

He said some officers hounding him now were threatened then that he would climb to the position of commander of the Kampala Metropolitan Police Area under Kayihura. Before he vanished he had sought police protection claiming his life was under threat.

“I went to several officers in the country including some of my bosses like the deputy IGP Maj Gen Muzeyi Sabiiti and he ordered that I get police protection and it took two weeks for police to deploy a pick-up truck and five policemen for me, which were withdrawn in less than a day,” he said.

He said since he was interdicted in April last year, his co-accused were released mid last year and redeployed. Interviewed for this story, a close friend of Bakaleke said the assistant commissioner fled for two reasons.

“Bakaleke told me that a senior police colleague first told him not to accept counter terrorism, CT, police guards because the person fighting him was once a CT officer and the two CIID officers handling his case brought the trumped up charges against him. He was advised to ask for guards from FFU [Field Force Unit],” the friend said.

“However, a few days before he was to report to the Anti-Corruption court to take plea, he was told by one state prosecutor that they were under strict instructions to oppose his bail application and have him remanded. In prison, the informer told him he would be poisoned. So if he is on the run, I suspect those could be the reasons,” the friend added.

The friend said a frustrated Bakaleke also wrote to President Museveni through First Son Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s office. Before he got a response, the friend said, the first warrant of arrest was issued by Grand One Magistrate Moses Nabenda after state prosecutor Harriet Angom convinced court that Bakaleke was duly served on September 17 through his lawyers but neither the officer nor his lawyers appeared in court.

Bakaleke and others were sued for kidnap, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud two Koreans; Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu who were allegedly arrested from Acacia Mall in Kampala; where they were due to meet their lawyer Paul Wanyoto. Bakaleke denies the charges. Police Spokesman Fred Enanga has since placed adverts appealing to the general public and Interpol to arrest Bakaleke.

Bakaleke’s co-accused include; Lawyer Paul Wanyoto Mugoya, Nabeta Samuel Mulowooza, the Managing Director of Eye Power Engineering Company and police officers; Robert Munezero, Innocent Nuwagaba, Robert Ray Asiimwe, Junior Amanya, Babu Gastavas and Kenneth Zirintuusa. Bakaleke, represented by his lawyers, petitioned High Court to stop his prosecution until his case is fully investigated but his petition was dismissed and court ordered him to stand trial.

Before he fled, Bakaleke told this reporter that he had secured documents showing that the CID Commander Kampala Metropolitan Police nudged the Directorate of public prosecutions to enjoin him (Bakaleke) on charges of kidnap and extortion.

Bakaleke alleges that it is at the urging of the KMP CID commander that a third file, which was kept at Katwe police station, was retrieved and he was later enjoined as a suspect. In a communication dated May 22 2018 to the CID Commander, the DPP agreed to have Bakeleke charged.

The document, a copy of which this reporter has seen, reads in part, “However, at your request the charges have been consented to at this stage, with a reminder that pending inquiries are crucial. Notably, among other inquiries, one victim has recorded a statement.” The DPP in the same letter urged police to record statements from the Koreans.

“It is therefore very important to record statements from all other Koreans who have not yet recorded statements. This can easily be done by the victims from where they are and the statements sent to Uganda by working with Interpol and the relevant embassy,” the DPP’s letter reads.

In an earlier interview, Bakaleke said by the time the Koreans were arrested, he was deployed by the ex-IGP Gen Kale Kayihura to Kiggo for days and he never met any of them in the four months they spent here.

“I wonder why police did not record statements from the Koreans for the four months they were here. I never interacted with these Koreans. The DPP treating Wanyoto, a-would be suspect, as a victim also indicates that he is also conniving with the CID Commander,” Bakaleke lamented.

Another associate of Bakaleke, Lt Reagan Muganza told this reporter that Bakaleke believes he is being witch hunted by his bosses.

“His intention to write to the president was to among other things to have his interdiction lifted just like it was done for his co-accused policemen,” Muganza said. Interviewed yesterday, Enanga advised Bakaleke to come out of hiding and plead his case. He said Bakaleke’s appeal for the re-investigation of his case was quashed.

Asked why some of Bakaleke’s co- accused are walking free and redeployed, Enanga said each case was considered administratively depending on each officer’s role. In one of the counts, prosecution contends that Bakaleke and his co- accused between February 11, 2018 in Kampala conspired to kidnap or abduct the South Koreans.

The South Koreans were arrested from Acacia Mall in Kampala; where they were due to meet their lawyer Wanyoto. It is alleged that the arrest was sanctioned by Bakaleke acting on a tipoff from Wanyoto, who claimed the Koreans were involved in dubious activities and that they were financial terrorists. Bakaleke says the allegations are wild and unfounded.

lubwamasiraje@gmail.com

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd