News of Gen Kale Kayihura’s sacking was announced via President Museveni’s twitter handle on March 4 at around 6pm. Mr Museveni fired Gen Kayihura alongside his rival and Security minister, Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, who also was replaced by Gen Elly Tumwine.
Critiques said Gen Kayihura’s sacking had been long overdue following the spate of kidnaps and murders in Kampala and other parts of the country by criminals who seemed to kill at will with machetes, guns, etc.
Some of the criminals were allegedly either inside the police force or working with police offices.
Before Gen Kayihura dismissal, the army had arrested his subordinates or close associates on criminal charges. They included Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma and Senior Superintendent Nickson Agasirwe on accusations of illegal repatriation of suspected Rwandan fugitives in October 2017.
However, the last nail in Gen Kayihura’s coffin appeared to have come in January 2018 when the army arrested Mr Abdullah Kitatta, the patron of Bodaboda 2010, a notorious gang that had been publically associated with police.
Mr Kitatta had publicly vowed to support Gen Kayihura using all means in his reach. Mr Kitatta and his group had previously staged protests outside Makindye Magistrate’s Court where Gen Kayihura had been summoned to respond to charges of police brutality against Opposition supporters in a case which had been filed under a private prosecution arrangement.
Following the arrest of Gen Kayihura’s associates in police, President Museveni reportedly held at least three back-to-back high level meetings with security chiefs before drawing the curtain on Gen Kayihura and Lt Gen Tumukunde.
The meetings are said to have happened after the President returned from the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which ended on January 29.
In the first week of February, sources say Mr Museveni called two meetings at State House Entebbe to discuss sticky national issues especially the deteriorating security situation in the country at that time. At these meetings, failings of the police were brought to the fore.
Museveni brands Kayihura been weevil
Four days after he had sacked Gen Kayihura in March, President Museveni, speaking on Women’s Day celebrations in Mityana District, said police had been infiltrated by “bean weevils” which he had removed. Gen Kayihura had been IGP for 12 years.
Through his tenure, Gen Kayihura brutally curtailed the movements and assembly of Opposition politicians who often referred to him as an NRM cadre who was unleashing brutality to government critiques.
He reinforced credence to this claim when he declared himself an NRM cadre at a thanksgiving ceremony in his home district of Kisoro after President Museveni had renewed his contract for a fifth term. He praised Museveni for appointing him IGP before he handed over a shield and spear to him as a symbol of power.
Opposition politicians and human rights activists accused Gen Kayihura of militarising the police but he fired back saying the sophistication criminals require police officers with military skills.
Kayihura hands over office
On March 15, Gen Kayihura donned in a four star general army combat handed over office to his successor Okoth-Ochola. While giving his speech, Gen Kayihura said he was very excited for he handed over to the person he believed in, having worked with him in the police for a long time. He said that despite the recent bad image of the police, he had handed over a better force.
“In spite of the recent bad image, I am handing over a police force that is in better shape than the one I found. The force is now built on a solid foundation. And in spite of the setbacks, we are moving in the right direction,” Gen Kayihura said.
He cited some of the achievements he registered in his 12-year tenure as IGP as increasing the police strength from 14,000 to 44,600 personnel, successfully lobbying for increase of police budget from Shs53b at the time he took over from Gen Katumba Wamala in October 2005 to Shs540b by 2017.
He also boasted of building several police training schools such as Kabalye Police Training School in Masindi District, Staff and Command College at Bwebajja in Wakiso District, increasing police fleet, building police headquarters at Naguru to save the force from renting as was the case before he took over office as well as partnering with civilians and private sector to build different police stations countrywide.
“I took over command at a time of intense activity, there was political turbulence and Opposition thought they could do anything without Police intervention. This was quite a challenge,” Gen Kayihura said.
On April 28, a rumour circulated that the Special Forces Command, the presidential guard unit, had intercepted Gen Kayihura at Entebbe airport trying to go abroad for treatment. This rumour was promptly dismissed by government. On May 23, Gen Kayihura also dismissed the rumour that he had been blocked from travelling abroad.
However, on June 12, at around 8pm, news struck that the army had searched a hotel in Lyantonde Town looking for Gen Kayihura. He was suspected to be in the hotel but apparently, sources said, he had been tipped off and he sneaked out before the army raided the hotel.
Different online publications reported but later retracted news of Kayihura’s arrest. On the morning of June 13, a local daily published on its website that it had talked to Kayihura by telephone and he had denied being under arrest. Daily Monitor also contacted Gen Kayihura but his telephone was picked by someone calling himself a bodyguard and claimed was in a meeting.
President, Museveni’s younger brother, Gen Salim Saleh, army spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire and police spokesperson Emilian Kayima all refuted news of Kayihura arrest. But the rumour persisted.
Apparently by this time, as it turned out later, Kayihura had already been arrested by the army at his village home in Kashagama, Lyantonde District.
By midday, it had become untenable to deny Kayihura’s arrest. Kayihura had been arrested and flown to Kampala in a military helicopter.
At 3pm Brig Karemire issued a statement confirming Kayihura’s fate but veiled it with a claim that he had been summoned by Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, and the chopper had been sent to collect him.
Shortly later, details emerged that Gen Kayihura had been intercepted by the army as he tried to sneak back from Mbarara where he had spent the previous night after escaping from the Lyantonde hotel incognito.
His associates in police Col Ndahura Atwooki (director of crime intelligence); ACP Herbert Muhangi (commander of Flying Squad UNit); SSP Richard Ndaboine (cybercrime unit commander); Lt Col Peter Rushererwe and 22 lower rank security personnel and civilians had already been arrested by the military.
Kayihura in jail without trial
Gen Kayihura was later to spend 73 days in Makindye Military Barracks without trial. The public quickly judged he deserved it. While still IGP, Kayihura had proposed that suspects be detained for at least 90 days without trial to enable investigators accomplish their work.
His lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) said he was not in a hurry to leave military detention and was willing to sacrifice his rights in order to allow the truth come out. A law student of Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara tried to petition court to expedite Kayihura’s release, but the General insisted he was not in a hurry to be out.
“Our client told us that he has no problem staying in prison as long as the truth is established….. A number of dramatic and ridiculous allegations have been labelled against him and if the investigating bodies want more time to investigate them, he says it is fine for him to wait,” Mr Elison Karuhanga, one of Kayihura’s lawyers, told Daily Monitor.
On August 24, Gen Kayihura was dragged to the General Court Martial in Makindye and charged with aiding and abetting kidnap by commission and repatriating Rwandan exiles and refugees and Ugandan citizens to Rwanda between 2012 and 2016. He was also accused of failing to protect war material by issuing arms to unauthorised persons including the jailed Kitatta between 2010 and 2018. He denied the charges.
His lawyers’ verbal attempt to have him released on bail on first appearance in court was rejected by the court chairman Lt Gen Andrew Gutti who asked them to apply in writing. On August 28, Gen Kayihura was granted bail upon presenting two generals as sureties; Maj Gen Sam Kavuma and Maj Gen James Mugira.
Nevertheless, Kayihura’s mobility was restricted to Kampala and Wakiso districts. He was ordered to report to court every first Monday of the month. He cannot travel abroad without permission by or the army leadership.
He has been allowed to move out of the country for treatment. But his co-accused remain in prison to date. Different faces of justice.