How Museveni has responded to high profile assassinations

Museveni has banned hoodies, ordered for CCTV cameras and sharp shooters, he has asked civilians to confront assassins trailing them... now he is going back to the Luwero method.

CRIME MEETS POLITICS | It could have passed for a usual Twitter meme. “Someone just said that these top officials running to the crime scene very fast, one day they will reach the scene before the crime,” the sarcastic tweet by a handle @kakzaman said.

Yet it made such brutal sense in light of the knee-jerk responses that have followed each high profile assassination in the recent past. From visiting scene of crime to making pronouncements, President Museveni has almost taken on the role of ‘Chief Assassination Reactionary’.

While his former security chief Kale Kayihura had become a poster boy of sorts at every crime scene and hours later when he would parade suspects before the media, Museveni dabs in visiting the crime scene and makes pronouncements.

Sendo Cleaners

Below are the major assassinations that have elicited strong responses from the president.

Abdul Kadir Muwaya — December 25, 2014.

The Shiite leader popularly known as Dakhtur was gunned down on Christmas Day at his home in Mayuge District. He was killed at around 9:30pm. Muwaya was the third of the top clerics to be gunned down after Sheikh Abdul Karim Sentamu, a prominent Muslim scholar, on April 20, 2012, on William Street, Kampala moments after he left a mosque on the same road, and Abubaker Kiweewa, who was shot dead by unknown assailants within the premises of his Prime Supermarket in Kyanja, a city suburb, on June 22, 2012.

President Museveni paid homage to the family of Muwaya. Chimpreports reported that at the family of the late Muwaya in Kavule village, Mayuge Town Council in Mayuge District, Museveni expressed solace and strongly condemned the killers of the Director of Ahlul Bat Islamic Foundation in Uganda

“The government will not spare any efforts to apprehend the situation. Whoever is responsible for the murder of Muwaya, will face the consequences,” the news website quoted Museveni as saying.

Rest of Muslim cleric murders

Responding to a petition by Mufti Ramadhan Mubajje on the need to do more to address Muslim clerics’ assassinations, Museveni said the killers were operating from neighbouring countries like DR Congo and that their leader (Jamil Mukulu) was in custody. He also blamed the killings on the “weakness of the judicial systems,” adding that if he had the opportunity to use Kiyekera style (jungle law), the killings would be no more.

Several Muslim clerics were arrested and charged with the murder of their “rivals” and terrorism. The suspects, led by former tabliq leader Sheikh Muhammed Yunus Kamoga, have mainly been acquitted but the boda boda killings continue.

Joan Kagezi — March 30, 2015

The former senior principal attorney was shot dead in Ntinda as she stopped to do shopping in a supermarket by assailants riding on a boda boda who had been trailing her. Four days after her death, Museveni paid a courtesy call on the bereaved family during which he pledged to pay fees for the orphans “until they get tired of studying.”

He has always maintained that Kagezi, like Muslim clerics, was killed by ADF rebels. Addressing Parliament in June, Museveni said: “Regarding the killings of Joan Kagezi, Moslem Sheikhs, AIGP Kaweesi and Maj Kiggundu, 90 people have been arrested and are now facing trial and those not yet arrested are still being hunted. The ADF criminals in Congo will answer for the killings of our people even when they are hiding in Congo. Their only safety is for them to voluntarily surrender and seek for amnesty.”

Maj Muhammed Kiggundu — November 26, 2016

Maj Muhammed Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sgt Steven Kavuma were on the Northern Bypass highway around Masanafu when assailants on a boda boda attacked them. The former ADF commander and his bodyguard appeared to have taken note and tried to fight back but they were a little too late.

The murder of Maj Kiggundu remains unresolved and being a Sheikh, it was blamed on ADF and because the assailants were riding on boda boda, the president ordered for fresh registration of all bodaboda riders in Kampala.

AIGP Felix Kaweesi — March 17, 2017

At the time the second most powerful police officer after IGP Kale Kayihura, Kaweesi, who had retaken the role of publicist for the force, was gunned down in morning as he drove out of his home in Kulambiro. Like with Maj Kiggundu, there was an element of coup de grace in the execution of Kaweesi. And the killers were on a motorcycle.

In many systems around the world, cops are never killed. At least not senior ones. When it happens, the entire force would come after the killers. But here was a powerful cop gunned down with his bodyguard and driver. In a knee-jerk reaction, Museveni asked Ugandans to be vigilant and “sort out any suspicious rider.”

Museveni’s comments at Kaweesi’s vigil left many questions. He was asking citizens to confront threats of armed gunmen trained and paid to kill without any feelings. Maybe it was the night, but there was no mistake in the words attributed to the president. “Now that you know that they [killers] are using these pikipikis (motorcycles), you be alert, especially if you are armed. When you see somebody trying to follow you with a boda boda, stop the car, get out and sort out issues with him,” he said.

“Criminals have shifted to the method of boda boda…because they are many in town and the population in Kampala is big now. They have used this method and have now killed more than 10 people using this method. We shall kill them or we shall capture them and if they don’t want to die, they should surrender. You are going to die because you have killed our people with no reason.”

He directed for the immediate installation of cameras in all major towns of Uganda and along the highways. “We have been planning to do this project for some time but we have been postponing it on account of other priorities like the roads and electricity. Since, however, these thugs think they can use this remaining gap in our otherwise robust security frame-work, I have decided and directed the Minister of Finance to work with Police to immediately close this gap,” Museveni said.

Still after Kaweesi murder, the president ordered Gen Kayihura to clean up his house immediately, saying Police had become a haven for criminals. “Some of these [security] groups are infiltrated by the criminals. So, you get a situation where there are intimidating witnesses, sometimes killing witnesses. They leak [witness] information [to criminals]. The police has been infiltrated by the criminals. Kale [Kayihura] you must clean the police especially the CID,” Museveni said.

The government also banned sale of simcards in the open market. Only telecoms are allowed to and following stringent requirements especially in replacements.

MP Ibrahim Abiriga — June 8, 2018

The former Arua Municipality MP who had gained a reputation for living a yellow lifestyle from wardrobe to cars and even painting his house in the NRM colour was gunned down by assailants who had trailed him on boda boda and cornered him near his home in Kawanda. In a statement, Museveni said the assassins were “pigs” and “cowards” and run down a list of measures to defeat all such pigs who had killed Kiggundu, Kagezi, Kaweesi.

He said the criminals were using simple techniques to defeat rudimentary methods used by Police, citing hoodies (kwebika ku mutwe), not to be seen properly. They also bend the registration plates of the “pikipikis” so that they are not properly read. He also banned hoodies and ordered for reflector helmets with identity of boda boda riders.

And when MPs expressed fears for their lives, the president directed the Finance ministry to immediately buy escort vehicles for all the 456 legislators and the army to provide them with “sharp shooters” to protect them from “terrorists.”

Mohammed Kirumira — August 8, 2018

President Museveni couldn’t even wait for the day to break–he rushed to the scene of Kirumira’s murder at 11pm, about two hours after the senior cop was gunned down near his home in Bulenga. In a statement later, Museveni said he had chaired a security meeting that that discussed how to “stop these pigs” by not just relying on the old police methods. “Pending the installing of cameras etc everywhere, we are going to re-activate the Luwero methods to deal with these cowardly pigs.”

The so-called Luwero method was summary execution of suspects. During the NRA bush war, Museveni was weary of public sentiments and always wanted it to remain positive for his guerilla fighters to sustain a cause. He would not tolerate indiscipline that involves his soldiers against the locals. Whenever some soldiers crossed the line and messed up with citizens, they paid for it. For instance, Capt Shaban Kashanku who was executed on Museveni’s orders of indiscipline.

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