What police, UPDF said about journalist Remmy Bahati’s 'missing' family members

UPDF spokesperson Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye

What you need to know:

The development comes on the heels of several complaints by the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party which insisted that at least 12 of their supporters, who they claim were abducted by security agencies two years ago, are still missing.

Security officers in Fort Portal City, Kabarole District in western Uganda said Sunday that they had arrested five people in a Saturday evening operation on allegations of impersonation and illegal possession of a firearm.
The information was brought to light after a Ugandan US-based journalist Ms Remmy Bahati tweeted saying plain-clothed men driving in a Toyota Hiace vehicle, notoriously known in Uganda as a drone, had stormed her father’s house and abducted her brother Kelvin Katungi, her cousin Mugume Latif and a friend only identified as Abala who was visiting the family. 

“Armed plain-clothed men driving a drone with no plates have stormed my 76-year-old father’s house in Fort Portal City searching for ‘guns’. They didn’t find any & abducted my brother, cousin and his friend who was visiting. Their whereabouts are unknown. Help me find them😭” Ms Bahati tweeted on Saturday at around 10pm.
In response to the tweet, UPDF promised to investigate the matter.

However, at around 12pm on Sunday, the UPDF spokesperson Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, Tweeted saying one Allan Kanyesige had been arrested for masquerading as a soldier.
“Last evening, the flying Squad arrested a one Allan who has been masquerading as a soldier. The police had an arrest warrant and sought support from Mountain Division Hqs. He is being held at Fort Portal Central Police station,” Brig Gen Kulayigye tweeted at around 12:19pm.
Following a series of tweets by Ms Bahati demanding to know the whereabouts of her family members, the UPDF spokesperson five hours later sent out another tweet with details of the five suspects netted the evening before.

 According to Mr Kulayigye, police flying squad assisted by other security agencies carried out an operation to apprehend suspected criminals who have been allegedly masquerading in military attires and conning people in Fort Portal City. 
Following a tip off, one Allan Kanyesige who’s the main suspect, according to UPDF, was netted in Semuliki Lodge and Bar with an alleged accomplice identified as Peace Sudai.
“On brief interrogation, he led the security team to the home of Kelvin Katungi, claiming to be his place of aboard. Kelvin Katungi was also on the wanted list as an associate. He too was apprehended. Two other associates, Mugisha Isaaya and Asaba Abdulatif were also arrested. They are all detained at CPS Fort Portal,” Mr Kulayigye tweeted alongside pictures of a man donning military fatigue whom he identified as Kanyesige. 

However, Ms Bahati who has written and published stories about gross human rights violations in Uganda, insisted her father had been to several stations, including Fort Portal Central Police Station and didn’t find her missing family.
“None of these people you have paraded to be my relatives is actually related to me and I don’t know them. Please free my brother, cousin and their friend that you abducted from our home in Fort Portal City," she tweeted. In a rebuttal, the UPDF spokesperson said “I did not say they are your relatives, we have shown you those that we arrested from Fort Portal. That's all.”

In a separate interview about the matter, police in Fort Portal City confirmed the arrest of five suspects in a 9pm operation on Saturday following an intelligence brief from their officers.
"A team composed of all security agencies, the intelligence officers and area local leaders was immediately formed to follow up the information. The team reached Kisenyi and Rwengoma villages and arrested five suspects in connection to the matter (illegal possession of firearms)," said the Rwenzori West region police spokesperson, Mr Vincent Twesige.
 According to him, a search was conducted at the home of the suspects “but nothing was recovered.”

"Some witnesses were interviewed and said they have ever seen Kanyesige Frank alias Allan with a pistol. Statements were recorded. The suspects were detained pending further interviews and completion of inquiries," Mr Twesige added.
He identified the suspects as 28-year-old businessman Kanyesigye Frank alias Allan,38-year-old Kelvin Katungi, 45-year-old Mugisa Isaaya, 22-year-old Abdulatif Asaba and a 38-year-old Peace Sadai, all residents of Fort Portal City in Kabarole District.

The development comes on the heels of complaints by the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party which insisted that at least 12 of their supporters, who they claim were abducted by security agencies two years ago, are still missing.
 The 12 were reportedly abducted separately from the various places ahead of the 2021 General Election.

The missing NUP supporters include; John Bosco Kibalama, Micheal Semuddu, John Damulira, Moses Mbabazi, Farouq Omar Ssegujja, Vincent Nalumoso, Martin Lukwago, Muhammad Kanatta, Yuda Sempijja, Musisi Mboowa and Peter Kirya.