Former boxing champion and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activist, Justin Juuko, has blamed his dramatic arrest and detention by the military late last year on his relatives.
Juuko was arrested by plain-clothes security operatives on December 12, 2020, in Kyazanga. He was later transferred to Kampala and detained at Makindye barracks. He was subsequently charged with treason and illegal possession of arms before a military court.
The military court, however, dropped the charges and released him on December 31. While his arrest and detention coincided with the rampant countrywide abductions of opposition politicians in the run-up to the January 14 (2021) general elections, Juuko claims he has since established that he was set up by his family members.
Speaking to The Observer at the weekend, Juuko accused his paternal uncles; Apollo Juuko Kasiita and Enock Kisege of being behind his arrest. Incidentally, Juuko Kasiita is the resident district commissioner (RDC) of the central district of Lwengo in which Kyazanga is located.
Juuko says he has had a long-running dispute with Kasiita over control of family land and other properties in Masaka and Bukomansimbi districts. The contested property includes their ancestral homestead in Kagologolo, Bukomansimbi.
“He used his office to frame me because that’s the only way he could take all this (property) but the pressure from many Ugandans and my fans all over the world piled on government to release me. These people who use government offices to solve personal and family affairs give a bad image to our country,” Juuko said.
The 1990 Commonwealth Games champion, who has since returned to the United States of America after the January 14 elections, also accused Kasiita of trying to grab more land of his late aunt Georgina Nakabiito. When contacted on April 26, Kasiita declined to readily comment. He asked The Observer to look for him at a later date.
ABOUT JUUKO DETENTION
After 19 days in army custody, Juuko’s detention drew worldwide attention, with several sports and political leaders calling for his release. When the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi intervened, the charges against Juuko were dropped by the General Court Martial.
Juuko was arrested with Garrypaul Mayanja, one of FDC’s youth leaders in Kyazanga area. The army indicated in its charge sheet that Juuko was found training and mobilising youth from Kyengera, Kamengo, Lukaya, Masaka, Kyabakuza and Lyantonde “on how to use martial arts, small arms (pistol and SMG) and catapults against Ugandans after the January 14,
In his first media briefing after his release, Juuko dismissed all the accusations, saying he had never held a pistol or a bullet in life. Juuko, 48, is well known as one of the boxers, who flew Uganda’s flag high in international boxing.
He was famously known as the ‘Destroyer’. And in one of Juuko’s career highlights, he won the World Boxing Council (WBC) International super featherweight title. He also lost to Floyd Mayweather in the WBC World super featherweight title fight in May 1999 and Miguel Cotto in June 2002, some of the most high-profile boxers in recent times.
Juuko, who brought the first-ever international professional fight in Kampala, when he knocked out the Mexican Martin Ramirez, fought 58 professional fights.
He won 45 of them, 30 by knock-out, lost 12 and drew one. He joined active politics in the mid-2000s, and twice contested for Bukoto East parliamentary seat in the 2006 and 2011 general elections on FDC ticket. He lost on both attempts to Alintuma Nsambu (NRM) and DP’s Florence
He did not contest in the recent elections after relocating to the US but was in the country to campaign for FDC candidates in his native Greater Masaka regions before the January 14 poll.