Susan Magara, Kirumira and Abiriga murders rocked the year of sweeping Kawukumi
RECAP | If you speak, you will die. If you don’t speak, you will still die,” Muhammed Kirumira said in one of his media interviews. The former Old Kampala Division Police Commander and Buyende District Police Commander was gunned down as brutally as Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga, a man who had carved himself a niche as an NRM party chief clown and sycophant.
It’s just hours away to 2018’s chapter but the families of Kirumira, Abiriga and Susan Magara are among the many probably feeling like it is decades to go before a new year takes away the agonising experiences and memories 2018 has ingrained in their hearts.
The execution of Abiriga and Kirumira were almost carbon copies of those of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi and Maj Mohammed Kiggundu within 18 months before, except that Kaweesi’s was much more brutal and involved the killers confirming from close range that their target was taken out, complete with coup de grace, according to accounts.
Ibrahim Abiriga (June 8)
Ibrahim Abiriga didn’t look like he could annoy even a fly. In fact, he was so innocently annoying that when he peed on the wall of a ministry, there wasn’t even smell left. As long as he had his yellow-everything and a thumb up, Abiriga didn’t look like he could even elicit a jeer out of anyone.
His bated endearment to the ruling NRM party looked so abnormally normal that few cared about his yellow beetle, yellow suit, yellow shoes and yellow house.
But on Friday, June 8, Abiriga was shot dead near his home in Matugga, Wakiso District by two people who were riding on a boda boda at about 6:30pm. He was travelling in his famous yellow beetle car with his bodyguard when the attackers opened fire.
Abiriga, who was returning home to break fast during the Ramathan season, was killed on the spot by the assassins that witnesses said ordered onlookers in the vicinity to get back to their homes.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said they are yet to present a suspect in court in connection with Abiriga’s assassination. However, his murder had elicited some farcical response with MP Betty Nambooze facing the wrath of the State over messages she wrote about Abiriga before the killing.
President Museveni responded to the murder by ordering for CCTV cameras to be procured and installed in the city. He also banned hoodies on motorcycles and directed that MPs be provided with ‘sharp shooters’ (read snipers) and armoured personal carriers for their bodyguards.
The outspoken DPC was on suspension and facing disciplinary case before the Police Tribunal where he was accused of eating someone’s rolex when he was gunned down near his home in Bulenga in Wakiso District on exactly three months after Abiriga’s assassination.
He was in the company of Resty Nalinya Mbabazi, who was also shot dead with the killers reportedly fleeing on boda boda motorcycles.
Kirumira was outspoken, controversial, but widely loved for his approachable personality and fight against rogue elements within the police force he served. His murder saw President Museveni abandon whatever he was doing to inspect the murder scene firsthand — within two hours of the incident.
Following his shooting, Ismail Senono, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, was arrested on suspicion of taking part in the murder. Daily Monitor quoted sources in security as saying Senono was arrested after his mobile number was found to have been communicating with the assailants before and after Kirumira’s murder.
But Deputy Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said investigations later found that Senono had no connection with the murder at all.
“We have one suspect who has already been charged in court. Although he confessed to the murder when he appeared in court he is trying to deny it but we have collaborative evidence,” Onyango said on New Year’s Eve.
The suspect is Abubakar Kalungi, a 47-year-old carpenter from Mirimi Zone, Makindye-Ssabagabo in Wakiso District, who was charged by Wakiso Grade One Magistrate Martin Kirya with two accounts of murder. He was remanded to Luzira Prison.
This is like the camel that broke Gen Kale Kayihura’s back. The case was the climax of the women kidnaps and murder incidents in Kampala and sucked in President Museveni, who was to break the news of Susan Magara’s death to te nation.
The body of the 28-year-old cashier who went missing on February 7 was found dumped in Kigo off the Entebbe expressway 21 days later. Magara, a cashier with Bwendero Dairy Farm along Kabaka Anjagala road in Lubaga Division, was reportedly kidnapped while driving to her home in Lungujja. Her motor vehicle was found abandoned on the roadside after the kidnap.
Magara’s kidnappers negotiated with her family for a $1 million (about Shs3.6 billion) ransom and were reportedly given $200,000 (about Shs700 million). But they had still brutally killed her after chopping some of her body parts while she was still alive.
President Museveni had intervened in this case and ordered investigations during her kidnap but even he could not save her life. Police later staked a Shs100 million reward for information leading to arrest of her killers while Museveni responded to the insecurity by sacking Generals Kayihura and his nemesis Henry Tumukunde, then security minister.
Nine suspects have since been charged with the kidnap and murder. The suspects are Abas Buvumbo, Yusuf Lubega (boda boda rider), Hussein Wasswa (hawker), Muzamiru Ssali, (boda boda rider), and Hassan Kato Miiro.
Others are Hajara Nakandi (teacher), Abubaker Kyewolwa (businessman), Mahad Kasalita, an Imam at Usafi Mosque, and Ismail Bukenya.
Meanwhile, earlier in the year, President Museveni turned the screw on Uganda Police Force saying it was riddled with ‘kawukumi’ (weevils) that had to be fumigated.
While speaking during the International Women’s Day in Mityana, Museveni said last year’s murder of women in Entebbe, Nansana and the family attacks that in various parts of Masaka were as a result of Police being infested with ‘weevils’.
“Some of these killers were being arrested, but our Police was starting to get infested by weevils,” he said.
He directed IGP Martins Okoth-Ochola to rid the Force of the kawukumi and a crackdown has seen the arrest and prosecution of Boda Boda 2010 patron Abdallah Kitatta and his allies.
Kitatta once wielded a lot of power in Police under Gen Kayihura’s reign but has since been reduced to crying in the dock at being denied bail. He appears for every court session wearing bright yellow shirts, probably hoping Museveni would watch his trial on news and sympathise with an ‘NRM cadre.’
Other senior police officers such as Johnson Baroza, the former personal assistant to Gen Kayihura, deserted while on a trip for fear of arrest.
Siraje Bakaleke, a former Kampala South Regional Police Commander, is also on the run after defying several court summons in a case in which he is charged with kidnap and extortion.