Wednesday April 4 2018

Security cautious on abducted UPDF Officer’s son


Denis Alyenyo was abducted on March 30, 2018 by unknown people from his home in Maga Maga, Mayuge District along the Jinja-Iganga Highway. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Philip Wafula

Security agencies are treading cautiously in their quest to free from abduction a son to a senior Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officer.

Mr Denis Alyenyo, a son to Col Dr Francis Ongia, the Chairperson Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) at Amolator District, was last Thursday abducted by unknown people from his home in Maga Maga, Mayuge District along the Jinja-Iganga Highway.

Preliminary findings indicated that the abductors were reportedly seeking a Shs7m ransom before freeing Mr Alyenyo. However, unconfirmed reports on Tuesday indicated that the ransom had risen to Shs15m.
Daily Monitor couldn’t independently verify those reports by press time.

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When contacted on Tuesday for an update of his son’s abduction, Col Ongia referred this reporter to Major Gonzaga Gonza. “Do you know Maj Gonzaga? Maj Gonzaga is in Jinja there. You look for him; he will give you all the information you want. However, the security are the ones handling the matter and have done more findings than me. What I want the public to know is the accurate information because I am also getting information from them. I have been at the scene where the kidnap took place but I don’t know who did it and the motive. So, I don’t want to give you inaccurate information; you look for Maj Gonzaga,” Col Ongia said.

When Daily Monitor contacted Maj Gonzaga, he said the security agencies were treading cautiously in their quest to free Mr Alyenyo by avoiding mistakes that might lead to his death. He didn’t disclose the nature of the mistakes though.

He said: “One of the biggest mistakes is involving the media from the word go. When information goes public, you make the kidnappers kill their captive. That’s how bad the press can be used.”

Adding: “At times, the bad guys use the same press to monitor what the security is doing. Do you remember the Mumbai terror attacks and the Westgate Mall attacks in Kenya? In both instances, the media was relaying live footage of the attacks and that gave the terrorists all the mileage to see how security agencies were closing in on them. So, we don’t want such a scenario to happen lest the kidnappers kill their captive.”

“At an appropriate time, we shall reach out to the media because media is not only one of the options but the last resort. Here, we shall make a formal appeal to the kidnappers to release the gentleman.
Obviously, there are some unconventional appeals through social media but we shall make a formal one through the media,” Maj Gonzaga said.

Asked why he (the army) is involved yet the operation was being handled by the police, Maj Gonzaga said: “I come in as a terrorism expert and also because the person abducted works in the Ministry of Defence and is a son to senior UPDF officer.”

Police has since Monday declined to release an official comment saying it will do so ‘at an appropriate time’.

Mr Alyenyo’s case joins a number of abductions for ransom and killings that have rocked the country in recent past.

Last month, Susan Magara, a daughter to a prominent businessman was discovered dead after being held by her captors for close to a month. Few days later, unknown people dropped a letter at the residence of a family in Mbale demanding a ransom of Shs17m or else they kidnap members of the family.