When the eight-year prison sentence was handed down to Abdallah Kitatta on May 14, some in the General Court Martial cried in apparent distress while others jumped in joyous celebration.
Away from court, those thrilled by the May 13-14 Lt Gen Andrew Gutti ruling and sentence included high-ranking military officers, who Kitatta, a disgraced once powerful patron of the Boda Boda 2010 Association, had dared to insult.
According to people familiar with Kitatta and the generals, the flamboyant former chairman of the ruling NRM in Lubaga division, clashed with three high-ranking officers when he still curried favour with then police chief Kale Kayihura.
The generals include; Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, Gen Salim Saleh and Brig Gen Ramadhan Kyamuresire, the UPDF chief of Legal Services, who preferred the charges against Kitatta. To the generals, the eight-year jail term, which Kitatta intends to appeal, is not deterrent enough.
Kitatta was found guilty by the seven- member General Court Martial of illegal possession of an SMG riffle No UE4467 – 1998 and a pistol N0. UG-POL 00753421813 with 30 rounds of live ammunitions without a valid certificate.
He was sentenced to eight years in Luzira prison together with his former police escort Sowari Nyombi. The same court acquitted his seven co-accused persons; Joel Kibirige, Matia Ssenfuka, Hassan Ssebatta, John Ssebandeke, Amon Twinomujuni, Fred Bwanika and Hussein Mugema.
General Salim Saleh
According to our sources, Kitatta annoyed Saleh way back in 2016. The general then called Kitatta to cross-check some information. And to the general’s consternation, a curtly rude patron of the Boda boda 2010 told Saleh he was only answerable to two generals in the country; General Yoweri Museveni and Kale Kayihura.
This response, the source said, angered Saleh so much though he didn’t take erratic action.
Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde
When he was appointed as minister for Security, he set about reorganising the chaotic boda boda industry in Kampala. He wanted one leadership instead of the fragmented associations named variously as Century, Boda Boda 2010, Taxify, Koboka, Tugende, and others.
But Kitatta publicly rebuked the minister. He said Tumukunde, an army general and minister for security, had no authority to organize boda boda elections. He said President Museveni needs to school such ministers in their operational roles to appreciate and understand them fully.
That set the two on a collision path. Tumukunde was later part of a wider security investigation that felled both Kitatta and later his benefactor Kale Kayihura.
Interviewed for a comment about Kitatta’s fall from grace and his eight-year sentence, Tumukunde said by telephone that he has retired from politics and no longer the minister for security. But he hastily added before hanging up, “…Each dog has its day…Kitatta has had his, I am no longer concerned.”
Gen Ramathan Kyamuresire
Kitatta also crossed Brig Gen Ramadhan Kyamuresire’s path. His men seized Kyamuresire’s two vehicles and plucked their number plates in Kyengera, a Kampala suburb.
On hearing the news, Kyamuresire’s called up then police chief Kale Kayihura and asked him to rein-in his errant protégé.
“Kayihura in response to Kyamuresire’s genuine complaint, asked Kyamuresire to talk to Kitatta saying ‘that boy [Kitatta] is understanding, talk to him calmly, he will return your number plates,” a source familiar with the episode said.
So, when the general found himself face-face with an out-of-favour Kitatta, he preferred charges accordingly.
Interviewed, outside court after the sentencing, Kitatta’s younger brother Hussein Mugerwa said he believed his brother was framed by people envious of his reach and access to the president.
“Kitatta forcefully joined NRM because the same party pushed him into poverty when his capital for the maize flour business was wiped out when Greenland Bank was closed…