Gen Kayihura’s court cases that never were

Pending. Former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura in the dock at the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala in August 2018. PHOTO BY ALEX EASAGALA

What you need to know:

  • In the fourth instalment of The Kale Files, Derrick Kiyonga explores how attempts by civilians to drag Gen Kale Kayihura to court fell flat on the face before he was criminally charged at the General Court Martial in 2018.

Between May and June of 2014, two citizens dragged then police chief Kale Kayihura to the Constitutional Court. They accused him of being actively involved in the politics of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. NRM had at the time passed the Kyankwanzi resolution that ring-fenced the party’s presidential flag during the 2016 General Election for President Museveni.  

The petitions were filed after the arrest of Ronald Poteli, a senior police detective. Mr Poteli stood accused of stealing sensitive recordings of Gen Kayihura’s conversations with NRM youth allied to then Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.

President Museveni (right) and former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi at the President’s farm in Kisozi, Gomba District on December 31, 2019. PHOTO/FILE

Mr Mbabazi was at the time considering running against his boss, President Museveni.   

During the interrogations, Mr Poteli confessed that he had been promised Shs25m in the event that he managed to get the recordings.

Attached to the political crimes desk at the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID), Mr Poteli further disclosed that the promise was made by someone allegedly working for Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi, the then premier’s wife. 

During the intense probing by police detectives, Mr Poteli claimed he made copies of the recordings on compact discs (CDs). Thereafter, he delivered them to the interested person, who works at the NRM headquarters in Kyadondo, Kampala.

Gen Kayihura contended that the tapes were stolen from police custody and leaked to Ms Mbabazi. The two audio recordings that surfaced online were related to Mr Mbabazi’s supposed political mobilisation activities to reinforce his, at the time, implicit presidential bid. 

The General featured prominently in both recordings. In one of the recordings, Kayihura was heard in a conversation with NRM youth from Buganda. He expressed deep concern that Mr Mbabazi’s political activities might destroy NRM and conceivably endanger the country. 

When the detectives asked Mr Poteli if he got the trade-off money, he admitted to getting “some of the money” but not all. His alleged contact working for Mr Mbabazi’s camp was yet to deliver the balance. 

Soon after these revelations, Mr Rogers Besigye (no relations with Kizza Besigye), who was believed to be Mr Mbabazi’s proxy, filed a constitutional petition against Gen Kayihura. He accused the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at the time of partisanship.

Former IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura (centre), at the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala, in 2018. PHOTO/FILE

Mr Besigye added that Gen Kayihura was unconstitutionally playing a direct role in extinguishing a perceived presidential mobilisation campaign by youthful supporters of Mr Mbabazi. 

Gen Kayihura, according to Besigye, assumed the roles of the NRM structures when he interrogated party members perceived to be mobilising politically for Mr Mbabazi. The General was also accused of constituting himself and his office into the “NRM party’s disciplinary desk to convene, hear and offer solutions to disputes emanating from the party yet the party has got its rightfully established structures designed to attend to the like.” 

Kayihura, Mr Besigye charged, openly claimed to be an agent of Mr Museveni and lured Mr Alex Kasirivu, then the NRM youth chairperson for Kayunga, to spy on Mr Mbabazi’s supporters. This was, in the assessment of Mr Besigye, deemed a partisan role executed by not just a serving army officer but head of the police for whom neutrality is a must. 

Mr Besigye said during the April meeting with Mr Kasirivu, Gen Kayihura gave the youth leader Shs1m to defeat Mr Mbabazi’s supposed presidential aspirations. Mr Besigye then asked the court to declare that Kayihura’s participation in partisan politics were inconsistent with Articles (208), (2), (3), 211(3), 2(1), 3(4), 38(1), 20(1), (2), 21(1), (2) and 43(1) of the Constitution. He also asked the court to restrain the General from the said actions against Mr Mbabazi, and declare that the police chief were not fit to serve the army and police as IGP.  

Days after filing the petition, Mr Besigye clandestinely withdrew it. The paperwork that Mr Besigye had used was, days later, refiled by Mr Sadat Kyakuhaire. He too would withdraw the petition. 

Contesting Poma 
A couple of years later, the General was again dragged to the Constitutional Court by Forum for Democratic Change’s Michael Kabaziguruka, who wanted the then police chief to be held personally liable for any undesirable outcome in the police implementation of the Public Order Management Act (Poma).

Former Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka waves the FDC party sign to his supporters as he arrives at the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala, where he was charged with treason on October 17,2016. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI. 

Poma had been used to crush Opposition gatherings. It has since been ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. Back in 2016, Mr Kabaziguruka, a former Nakawa Division MP, wanted the court to pronounce itself on whether it is only the Attorney General who is a proper party to be sued whenever the IGP and his officials commit unconstitutional acts. 

“Court should interpret whether the imposition of the Public Order Management Act on political parties and individuals by the police or any authority, contravenes 20 (1) and (2), 21(1) and (2), 29 (1) (a) (d) and (e), 38(1) and (2) of the Constitution,” the petition partly read. 

Mr Kabaziguruka, in 2015, had filed a suit in the High Court’s civil division accusing Gen Kayihura of selective enforcement of the Poma. He said then that the NRM and Mr Museveni, its flag bearer, were allowed to hold rallies and campaigns unhindered yet police forcibly stopped and broke up campaigns for FDC candidates, especially those convened by the party’s presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye.

Justice Benjamin Kabiito, who now heads the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), however, threw out the case on grounds it should have been filed in the Constitutional Court since it raised issues of constitutional interpretation. Although Mr Kabaziguruka wanted the court to declare that campaigns and rallies by political parties and individuals before and after nominations of presidential and parliamentary candidates should not be subjected to the provisions of Poma, his petition gathered dust as it was never considered in court.  

Bribery claims
Months later, Gen Kayihura was not dragged to a civil court but to Criminal Court. It all started when police attacked supporters of Dr Besigye, who were moving with them to the FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala. This was after the doyen of Opposition politics had appeared in a court in Nakawa.  

Police use a water cannon to force former FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye out of his vehicle in Kiraka, Kampala on November 4, 2019. COURTESY PHOTO

A group of private lawyers were taken aback by the brutality meted out to Dr Besigye’s supporters. They decided to institute criminal proceedings against Gen Kayihura. The General was jointly charged with senior police officers, including Andrew Kaggwa, James Ruhweza, Moses Nanoka, Samuel Bamuzibire, Patrick Muhumuza, Wesley Nganizi, and Geoffrey Kaheebwa (then acting regional police commander for Kampala East).    

Per the charge sheet, eight senior police officers were indicted for torture. The charge sheet maintained that Kayihura and his aforementioned senior officers and other police commanders still at large, being superior officers of the Uganda Police Force, in various places in and around Kampala, between 2011 and 2016, but most notably between July 13 and July 14, 2016, were liable for the acts of torture committed against Joseph Kaddu, Andrew Ssebitosi, Rogers Ddiba, and other members of the general public, including boda boda riders and supporters of Dr Besigye. 

Before the police officers would take the accused’s stand at Makindye Magistrate Court, Andrew Sebitosi, Rogers Ddiba and Joseph Kaddu withdrew their witness affidavits. 

The three witnesses claimed that the private lawyers, including Daniel Walyemera, had enticed them into that scheme by giving them Shs800,000 apiece. They proceeded to reveal that they were promised Shs5 million after testifying in the case. The private lawyers denied the allegations and pressed ahead with prosecuting Gen Kayihura and his co-accused with or without the affidavits of the trio.  

Court ‘raid’
Gen Kayihura and his co-accused were a no-show come D-day on August 11, 2016. By 5am, under the cover of darkness, a truck loaded with people who turned out to be Kayihura’s supporters entered the Makindye court premises. They took positions in the courtyard armed with placards. Police at the scene just looked on imperturbably. This siege was reminiscent of the infamous attack on the High Court by the ‘Black Mamba,’ a government security outfit, on March 1, 2007. 

Unlike the 2007 operation that was masterminded by the State apparatus, sources said this enlistment was scored by Abdallah Kitatta, then NRM chairman for Lubaga Division, who also doubled as Kayihura’s aide. The pro-Kayihura supporters carried placards with messages such as: “IGP Azira Musango” (IGP has no case) and “IGP Amalako” (IGP is unbeatable). 

Mr David Mafabi, the Chief Magistrate, who issued the summons, got flustered by the noise and ordered the court’s police officers to shush them up. The police officers obliged, but the raucous horde didn’t nudge. 

“This is our court. We have a right to be here,” they collectively said as Frank Mwesigwa, then Kampala Metropolitan commander, timidly looked on. 

The irate crowd also had a score to settle with Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who had joined the private lawyers prosecuting Kayihura and his group.   

“Lukwago you normally call us Kifeesi (a criminal gang). Come out and you face off with us,” they chanted, adding, “Even those journalists should be beaten because they are always reporting everything. Even things they shouldn’t report.” 

As things threatened to boil over, the police deployed two armoured vehicles. Still, no one was daring to deal with Gen Kayihura’s supporters. Mr Francis Gimara, then Uganda Law Society president, was clear about the motive of the mob.  

“We know those demonstrators wanted to block the trial of Gen Kayihura, that’s why they were trying to intimidate the chief magistrate and the lawyers involved in the case. But this is something we are not going to accept,” Gimara said.   

Ultimately, the prosecution of Kayihura and his group suffered a stillbirth after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mike Chibita, invoked his constitutional powers of having the right to take over any criminal matter.

Mysterious death
One month after the mob had tried to attack him, Mr Mafabi mysteriously died. 
The General’s eventual charge sheet wasn’t to play out in the civilian courts but in the General Court Martial (GCM). In June 2018, Gen Kayihura was arrested and detained at the Makindye Military Barracks. 

Once the investigation ordered by Mr Museveni was concluded, Gen Kayihura was charged at the military court with failure to protect war materials, abetting kidnaps, and failure to supervise police officers. However, once he was given bail, the trial never took off.     

In the next instalment of The Kale Files, we will chart and lay out how Gen Kale Kayihura came to be the power behind the throne of illegal parapolice groups such as Boda Boda 2010.

On August 24, 2018, former Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura was charged before the military court with failure to protect war materials, failure to supervise police officers and abeting kidnap.

Former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura in the dock at the General Court Martial in Kampala in 2018. 

The prosecution contended that between 2010 and 2018, on various occasions, Gen Kayihura issued firearms to unathorised persons specifically members of Boda-Boda 2010 under the leadership of Abdullah Kitatta, who was convicted of similar crimes.

Gen Kayihura was sacked from police by President Museveni in April 2018 at the height of a wave of murders and kidnaps for ransom that hit various parts of the coutry. He had served as police boss for 13 years.