Uganda - Former Spy Chief Col Bagyenda, Repotedly Under House Arrest, Says He's Being Framed over Killings
Uganda’s immediate past domestic spymaster, Col Kaka Bagyenda, last evening claimed that some state actors were framing him as the mastermind of a spate of macabre killings in Greater Masaka region by machete-wielding squads.
The claims by the ex-director general of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) came amid reports, which he denied, that operatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and sister security agencies, had placed him under house arrest on Kalangala Island.
Unknown persons from late July terrorised six districts in Greater Masaka, including the city, by staging gruesome night raids in which they used machetes to chop dead mainly elderly residents.
Two MPs Mohammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) and Allan Ssewanya (Makindye West), who both subscribe to the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party, have, alongside more than a dozen others, been arrested and charged in court first with murder and attempted murder before state added the offence of terrorism.
The duo was granted bail, but Mr Ssewanyana was rearrested upon release from Kigo Prison while his co-accused Mr Ssegirinya remained in custody at Kigo Prisons.
In a telephone interview, Mr Kaka did not name the individuals hounding him, but said they are desperately trying to connect him to the murders and violence in Greater Masaka region.
There is presently a lull in the killings following the massing on the ground of security and intelligence operatives amid a visit by the Security minister, Brig Jim Muhwezi, as well as a parallel fact-finding mission by MPs.
“There is a plan to link me to the murders in [Greater] Masaka [region]. They want to humiliate me, but I am a humble person. You tell me to sit down in the mud, I will. Nothing in this world I haven’t gone through. I have seen a lot,” Col Kaka said yesterday, mirroring similar allegations raised by others who fell victim during his stewardship of ISO.
He made telephone call to this newspaper after our journalists reached out to him to establish if he had, as reported, been placed under house arrest.
Witnesses on Kalangala Island, where the retired Colonel owns a resort, said plain-clothed security personnel yesterday sealed off the place as a construction site, and turned away any guests, hours after surrounding it in the morning.
At least 28 people, especially the elderly, were killed in the Greater Masaka region. The motive of the killers remains unknown months after joint security forces started investigations.
Brig Flavia Byekwaso, the UPDF spokesperson, dismissed rumours that Col Kaka was under arrest or restrained as “false”.
“It is false. I have talked to all agencies and they said he isn’t confined,” she said.
A highly-placed security source, who asked not be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, intimated that operatives have intensified arrests of persons close to Col Kaka. The source said a one Amos Rwangomani, reported to be the ex-spy chief’s close aide and head of his private operations, had been taken into custody at an undisclosed facility.
We were unable to reach Mr Rwangomani or his relatives to independently verify this account and, if true, the reason too remain unknown.
Col Kaka said he has been truthful and never hid anything from his superior while he was still serving as the head of ISO.
He said while at the domestic spy agency, Col Kaka did his work in Masaka and pacified the region and thereafter established the motive of the attackers.
The ISO and CMI agencies used to have a good working relationship until 2019 when personnel from one agency started accusing the other of participating in criminality.
In the good old days, the two agencies jointly investigated the murder of late Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the former Police spokesperson. The preliminary findings by the domestic spy agency was later accused of fabricating evidence to implicate the then Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, in Kaweesi’s killings.
An audio that ISO allegedly tendered as Gen Kayihura’s voice was found to be made up, leading to the accusation against him to collapse like a pack of cards.
Before long, the fall-out between the spy agency and CMI, the military’s investigative arm, became public. By July 2020, CMI operatives raided ISO safe houses in and around Kampala, taking away suspects reportedly detained on the orders of Col Kaka.
This was followed by the arrest of Simon Peter Odong, who was in charge of cyber investigations at ISO, on allegations of illegal possession of firearms. Odong and others are still battling capital cases in the military court.