Police last night announced that they had arrested a man whom they believe funded hit men to kill social worker Maria Nagirinya and boda boda and driver Ronald Kitayimbwa.
Spokesperson Fred Enanga described the development as a breakthrough, which he said will enable investigators close in on the mastermind faster.
“We are following all leads but the most important thing is that yesterday (Monday) we arrested the deal maker, the one who identified the plot,” he said.
The man believed to have contracted the killers was apprehended from Bulenga in Wakiso District, some 11.5 kilometres off Kampala City Centre. His arrest follows information provided by “prime suspects” taken into custody last Sunday night.
Officials declined to name the man, who is reported to be in Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) custody, for fear of jeopardising ongoing investigations.
The Monday arrest, touted in security circles as a significant “asset” or a person with priceless information, came to light amid revelations that the inquiries were being widened to Nagirinya’s work place and family as detectives string together the killer’s motive.
Police have so far taken seven people into custody and described three of them that they apprehended from a discotheque in Nateete, a Kampala suburb, in a raid last Sunday night as “prime suspects.”
Two of the alleged hitmen, identified by code names as Barosa and Arsenal, reportedly told interrogators that seven of them were hired to eliminate 28-year-old Nagirinya and they each received Shs130,000 for the mission.
Detectives believe that Arsenal is the same man clad in a maroon jacket and captured in a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage steering late Nagirinya car, a Spacio, registration UBA 570V, after the pair was snuffed out.
They dug up his crime profile and found that he was released only last July from Luzira Prisons where he had been incarcerated over alleged murder of a female mobile money agent in Nateete in 2013.
On August 28, abductors grabbed driver Kitayimbwa and Nagirinya, a former employee of Community Integrated Development Initiative, a not-for-profit organisation in Kampala, at Nagirnya’s gate at Lungujja.
Their bodies were later found on an isolated piece of land off Kayunga Road, some six kilometers from Mukono town.
Sources familiar with the investigations told this newspaper that the decision to pursue new leads followed information that Nagirinya was envied by some workmates for her perceived meteoric rise.
She joined CIDI initially as an intern, but within four years scaled the heights to manager for water and sanitation projects in Nakawa and Rubaga, two of Kampala’s five divisions.
There is no evidence so far to suggest a particular co-worker played any mischief, but a detective said they will soon interview some CIDI employees and explore all angles to eliminate likely threat pods.
Whereas two of the suspects reportedly told police that they were hired, they claimed not to know the motive for the killing. They also declined to disclose the identity of their master.
Three of their alleged accomplices, who are already in detention, are yet to undergo interrogation with interrogators hopeful they will make explicit revelations.
A senior police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity not to jeopardise ongoing probe, said they believe that Kitayimbwa, who largely plies his trade as a motorcycle taxi rider but on the fateful night was moonlighting as a driver, was a victim of circumstance.
They are also exploring whether he was killed because he knew one of the attackers and they feared he would reveal their identities.
Investigators are trying to establish if the blood money ultimately came from a co-worker or other person close to Nagirinya and what the motive for the killing could be.
The CIDI executive director, Dr Fulugensio Jjuuko, last night said he was not aware that police had placed some of the organisation’s staff on a radar and said Nagirinya had never notified him that she was a subject of envy at work or that her life was in danger.
“I have not been contacted on the matter by police,” he said.
He had told mourners during a requiem Mass on August 30 that Nagirinya was a trailblazing and diligent employee disposed to take any task in the organisation.
The deceased’s aunt, Ms Jane Ndibazza, a teacher at St Peter’s Primary Nsambya, told this newspaper on August 30 that Nagirinya often spoke to her about challenges at work and was considering quitting altogether.
“She always told me that she had challenges and wanted to leave the job,” Ms Ndibaza said. We could not independently verify her account and the CIDI executive director said no such information was shared with him prior.
Dr Ben Mukwaya, a close member of the Nagirinya family, yesterday said “all we are looking forward to is getting to [know the] motive and who ordered the killing of our daughter”.