The arrest of senior police officers by the Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI) on or about October 24 aroused multiple theories, all trying to make sense of the unusual arrest.
One of the theories linked the arrests to the murder of former police spokesman Felix Andrew Kaweesi, the other pointed to the police officers’ role in the illegal extradition of perceived Rwandan dissident refugees from Uganda back home where they faced persecution and prosecution.
The officers arrested were: Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe and five others.
One week before the arrests, President Museveni called a meeting of top security chiefs at State House to discuss the arrest of a former Congolese minister at Entebbe airport. The former presidential candidate in DR Congo, Mr Mbusa Nyamwisi, was arrested by police at Entebbe airport on October 17 after meeting President Museveni at State House, Entebbe.
Security sources at the airport revealed that Superintendent of Police Innocent Tusiime is currently under detention following arrest by CMI, it turns out that he had been acting as the Aviation Police Commander after Colleb Mwesigye, who died last week.
According to the sources, Mr Tusiime ordered Mr Nyamwisi’s arrest despite pleas from officers of the presidential guard Special Forces Command (SFC) who knew him.
“There was scuffle at the airport. We don’t know who had ordered the arrest of Nyamwisi because police defied SFC. We were told there was a [waiting] plane ready to summarily fly him out of the country,” a senior security source at the airport said.
It remains a mystery as to who instructed Tusiime to arrest Nyamwisi. But given Nyamwisi’s VIP status, it became inconceivable that an officer of Tusiime’s rank would arrest him without express directives from “a very senior” person in the police hierarchy.
“Where would he get the audacity to defy Special Forces?” the source wondered.
The scuffle between the police and SFC soldiers over Nyamwisi’s arrest lasted about two hours until the SFC commander, Col Don Nabaasa, intervened. By that time he had already missed his flight but he had been rescued from the police from a seemingly kidnap plot.
Mr Nyamwisi headed a rival Congolese rebel group to the Rwandan-backed faction RCD-Goma during the rebellion against the late DR Congo president Desire Laurent Kabila in the late 1990s.
President Museveni summoned senior security chiefs at State House for an urgent meeting after the chaos at the airport. In attendance was Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, Chief of Military Intelligence, Col Abel Kandiho, Commander of Special Forces, Col Don Nabaasa, presidential adviser on Special Operations, Maj Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and Director General of Internal Security Organisation, Col Kaka Bagyenda.
After deliberations, Gen Kayihura and Col Bagyenda were ordered to leave the meeting. After the departure of Kayihura and Kaka, sources said, President Museveni was also informed of another incident where two Rwandan exiles had arrived at Entebbe airport and were kidnapped by police and taken back home.
The president was informed of 200 refugees from Rwanda, DR Congo and South Sudan who have been kidnapped in the last five years with the assistance of Uganda Police and forcibly taken back home.
The incidents were all contrary to Uganda’s appraised hospitality to refugees and friendly refugee policy and were damaging the country’s international image.
President Museveni heard of the heinous crimes that were committed by the police officers and that are when he ordered Gen Muhoozi and Col Kandiho to arrest the police officers implicated in the kidnap of refugees from Rwanda and other neighboring states.
“That’s when the case of Lt Joel Mutabazi surfaced because there was evidence against some of the police officers,” the security source revealed.
Back in November 2013, one month after Lt Mutabazi’s kidnap, President Museveni directed CMI not to involve itself in issues of refugees because it was purely a police matter. Unfortunately, kidnaps continued until a point when Mr Museveni changed his position and asked CMI to take action.
The climax of the whole controversy reached sometime last month after the attempted arrest of Nyamwisi at Entebbe airport, the event provoked Mr Museveni leading to the CMI crackdown.