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Month August 2016

Damian Akankwasa and the 900 million Ugandan shillings under his bed


By John Njoroge

One morning while I was still a reporter at the Independent Magazine, I received a call from a fellow journalist (Name Withheld). My friend asked if I was at work, to which I responded in the affirmative.
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He quickly said had a hot story for the Independent publication and that he was driving to my direction.

Within minutes he was outside, asking me to come out with a voice recorder and a notebook (this I guess was for emphasis that we where “going to work”). As was my habit, taught to me by Andrew Mwenda, I told my editors-Charles Odoobo Bichachi and Joseph Were-I was going out, for a “big story” with so and so, who was now outside ready to pick me.

Into his car I went and off we speeded. I was excited.

“So what’s this one now,” I remember asking. My friend was not ready to tell me.

“You will see,” he said.

He lit a cigarette and passed me one as well. We zoomed through the streets of Kamwokya, having small talk, passed down Kira road, up Kabira country club and Cayenne bar and restaurant then, right after, we took a sharp right turn up a small slope to what was then called the Forest Cottages.

Through the gates and into the parking area, he stopped after parking in reverse. He picked his phone and called someone.

“We are here. Yes, I am with him, ok, 10minutes is fine. Ok” he hang up.

He lit another cigarette. Now I was getting worried.

“John, you have heard of this story about a lady who stole money from her husband, the National Forestry Authority Executive Director? You know everybody is looking for him to hear his side of the story. I have found him for you.”

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I got excited.

Damian Akankwasa, the man whose wife fled with 900million Ugandan shillings she found under their bed. This man was media hot cake at the time. Every journalist in Kampala wanted to see him.

My mind quickly raced. What questions should I ask? How luck am I? God loves me so much? What will my fellow journalists say? I could already see the praise I would get from my mentor Mr Mwenda. I could already see the headline.

Back then this selfie crazy thing was not there. In fact, we did not know selfies. It had “not yet landed” in Uganda at least.

Thinking back, I wish I had just take a picture with Damian. I had a camera and very nice expensive an back then high tech mobile phone- the Nokia E61i. I think I was one of the few people in this town with that phone.

It was bought for me by my good friend, at the time, Sudhir Ruparelia. But that’s another story.

Soon my friend’s phone rang again and we walked into the restaurant. Seated in a dark blue suit-or was it black- a shirt with no tie, was this humble looking fellow. We walked up to him, my friend introduced me and we sat.

Damian was very soft spoken almost says nothing, Calm, victim-like. Most of the time, he never looked me in the face. I caught him a few times stealing a glance as if to see “is this man getting my lines”

All through the interview, he spoke while closely observing my notebook and my voice recorder.

In short, Damian wanted to clear the air about the source of the money his estranged wife had stolen from under their bed.

He had actually said it before, but I later discovered, he had been persuaded to adopt a “communication strategy” targeting respected publication and give exclusive interviews over that money. Because he was a civil servant and you all know how much they earn.

You see, some of us live in debts. You wake up in the morning and some of the first phone calls you received are from people you either owe money or have to pay for past services rendered. That is if you actually pick those calls. Now when you read or hear that someone had UGX 900 million under his bed, you wonder what God did for him that he has refused to do to you.

Damian made it very vivid and clear to me.

“That money belonged to my brothers. They collected it from sales of matooke, goats, beans, cassava and milk. They brought it to me to buy them land. They wanted to start real estate. They travelled in a bus with that money is suit cases. I put it all in one bag and put it under our bed.”

ChaaaaaAii

He continued.

“I had misunderstanding with my wife and she left with only the money and her shoes.”

Only the money?????

He added.

“People say I am building a hotel. But that building behind my house is actually my main house. I am leaving in a boys quarter. It is 5 bedrooms but it is a boys quarter. When I finish my house you will all come and visit.”

Hoooooo

All through, I kept looking at my friend, who was very disappointed In how things where unfolding. Not that these things had not been said before but it was in the manner in which they where being said and to what publications. Because at that time Damian Akankwasa was not speaking to John Njoroge but to the Mighty Independent Publications Limited of Andrew Mwenda.

The interview went in circles, about his brothers, traveling with 900 million, in suitcases, in a public bus transport, from Mbarara to Kampala, and then taking bodabodas to his house and counting the money. Really this man must have thought I was on baby fomula.

Once this disaster of an interview was done, my friend and I left. Back to his car, he lit two cigarettes, one for me and one him as we drove out. We did not speak much and I actually did not know where we where going. He did not say and I did not ask.

Down after Kabira country club, my friend expressed his disappointment and asked me to do my job as I saw fit. He told me he had no intention of interfering and that if the interview subject had undressed himself, it was his fault. We agreed to have a beer later in the evening. He took me back where he had picked me.

Damian’s wife allegedly bought cars, land and houses in western uganda with that money. She distributed the cars and land titles to various people who where to pay her slowly.

As NFA director, Damian was allegedly responsible for issuing tree cutting permits. Unconfirmed reports claimed that if you wanted to cut 100 trees, he could give u a permit for 300, 50 extra for you, 150 for himself. All he wanted was his 150trees in cash. So imagine doing that with 2-3 or more people a day.

The biggest scandal or rather money minter was a $13m grant or loan-to the Forestry Authority for 4 projects. In one project alone, $3m vanished and only $50,000 could be accounted for. The documents are public and can be found in court.

Investigations and the courts of law have since cleared Damian of allegations of illicit wealth. His estranged wife was sentence to jail for theft and continues to serve her sentence. Other reports indicate she is a free woman now.

There is however another story for another day.

Bye!!!

MUSEVENI KILLS UGANDA AIRLINES; BOOSTS RWANDA AIRLINES


BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP

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“……..our Banyarwanda comrades stayed here as refugees for 34 years (1960 – 1994). We gave them all the support we could afford…………through Rwanda Airlines, Uganda is currently contributing about US$24.1M to the prosperity of the people of Rwanda.”

Museveni addressing a cabinet retreat at the Institute of Indoctrination – 26/7/2016

Uganda’s aviation industry dates to the early 1930s when the first flying boat landed around Port Bell on Lake Victoria near Kampala city. Its mission was to deliver mail – a service that had started in Kenya by Wilson Airways and proved to be a vital intercommunication tool in the region’s colonial centers. In 1947 Entebbe was identified as being suitable for Uganda’s future international airport and in 1951, a new Entebbe International Airport was inagurated by the Queen of England. Uganda Aviation Service and United Airways were set up and after independence it became a subsidiary of Uganda Development Corporation (UDC).

Following the collapse of the East African Community (EAC) in 1977, the then President Iddi Amin started the Uganda Airlines from scratch because Kenya had taken all the planes and routes. By 1978, Uganda Airlines had acquired a fleet of 15 fully owned by the government under Uganda Air Cargo. It plied the domestic, regional and international routes to London, Rome, Cologne, Cairo, Brussels and Dubai. It had been created as a strategic entity with the aim of mitigating the impact of sanctions imposed against the Iddi Amin regime and its landlocked Uganda – a task if effectively fulfilled. The 1978/79 war to oust Iddi Amin from power heavily impacted on its operations. After his overthrow its role was changed to profit making but it lacked the technical backup and capitalisation from government.
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Its survival depended only on ground handling services and to a lesser extent on royalty fees from third party carriers for designated routes. The ground handling services that covered air cargo, passengers and aircraft handling operations generated 65% of the revenue. Under the guise of privatisation, in 1994, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by an act of parliament. In mid 1990s, Museveni awarded the ground handling services to his in-law and permanent Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa. Since then ground handling services for Entebbe Airport is handled by Kutesa’s private company called Entebbe Handling Servicesa (ENHAS). With loss of its vital source of revenue in form of ground handling services, Uganda Airlines which had accumulated a debt of US$ 6M was liquidated in 2001.

By destroying Uganda Airlines, Museveni was extending his wider scheme of destroying whatever had been started by past regimes which he accuses of mismanaging Uganda. More so, he was trying to economically disable those Ugandans more especially those hailing from those regions he considered were politically linked to the past regimes that he had fought and replaced. After over two decades since the death of Uganda Airlines, last month Museveni told his cabinet that lack of a national airline was “a big shame” before criticizing Kenya, Ethiopia, and South African “brothers” for ditching the comradeship and instead opting to exploit Ugandans. He promised to set up a national airline – Uganda Airlines Corporation.

Will Rwanda afford to loose the US$24.1M contribution from Uganda through its Rwanda Airways? An uneducated military dictator in Iddi Amin who faced sanctions managed to build a booming national airline and an educated military dictator in Museveni destroys it!!!!

MUSEVENI’S ROLE IN THE UBC LAND SAGA


BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP

Museveni;s rubber stamp parliament and gullible Ugandans are questioning the dubious acquisition of government land by Hon. Margret Muhanga. They are simply wasting their time because land grabbing is a scheme by the Museveni regime to impoverish Ugandans while creating a small class comprised of its cronies who own everything.

Hon. Margret Muhanga is the Woman Member of Parliament for Kabarole District. She is a sister to Museveni’s boot leaker, Andrew Mwenda, Brig. Kayanja Muhanga – the 4th Div. Commander, and Maj. Henry Baguma – a historical Director under the Internal Security Organisation (ISO). She is married to Michael Mugisha the former District Chairman Kabarole and now the Executive Director of National Forest Authority (NFA). She is the Spokesperson of the regime’s defacto parliament, the NRM caucus. Before coming to the political limelight, she was a reporter with the regime owned New Vision newspaper in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a news reporter, she got closer to Gen. Kahinda Otafiire when he was the Director General of External Security Organisation (ESO). Her husband replaced Damiano Akankwasa at NFA, after the later was convicted for abuse of office by causing financial loss of 2.8 billion shillings that came to light following the theft of 900M shillings from his bedroom. Her brother Andrew Mwenda was linked to Lawyer Bob Kasango’s 7.8b pensions scam. She claims to have raised the 10.2b shillings that she used to buy the UBC land by borrowing from her brothers and selling her cows and goats.
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Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) was created by the UBC Act of 2004 following the merger of former Uganda Television and Radio Uganda. It now boosts of two TV channels and five radio stations. The past “inefficient” governments that Museveni fought failed to put to use the vast property of UBC and as of 2008 it owned only 35 acres of prime land in Bugolobi alone. Earlier, some of those who has fought the bush like Col. Mushega, Gen. Koreta, Brig. Eric Mukasa and a few others had been given part of the UBC land for free. The land titles for these properties has been mysteriously missing until in 2006 when the then Secretary to the Land Commission, Elizabeth Laker started creating new titles for the remaining land and giving it away to private developers. It took the intervention of the then UBC Corporation Secretary, Francis Gimara who placed caveats on the remaining land but at a heavy cost – his was kicked out of UBC.

In 2009 Minister Karoro Okurut and Margret Muhanga requested Museveni to give them part of the land belonging to UBC so that they could build a gumboot factory that would create 300 jobs for Ugandans. Museveni gave them the land. Their company, Extreme Innovations Ltd acquired two acres of UBC land located on Kibira Road in Industrial Area. Valued at 954M shillings that was supposed to be paid at the signing of the 49 years lease, UBC transferred the said two acres to the two Directors of Extreme Innovations without paying a single cent. In June 2010, Extreme Innovations requested UBC to transfer its (E.I) interests to a Chinese company, Sino East Africa Trading Hub and it was immediately done. SINO intended to set up an administrative and export development center for displaying Chinese products. Karoro Okurut and Margret Muhanga walked away with clean billions of shillings without investing anything. Later on Muhanga claimed that the marshy property that required $500,000 to rehabilitate made no business sense. E.I Ltd was set up in August 2008, it received the lease for the said UBC land on 7th December, 2009, five days later on December 7th it put the said land on market and sold it in July 2010 to SINO. Parliament raised up in army and attempted to censure Minister Karoro Okurut. The Police’s CIID also attempted to investigate conspiracy to defraud but Karoro and Muhanga refused to appear before them. At a caucus meeting in State House, Museveni acknowledged that he had given the two UBC land after they convinced him that they intended to set up a footwear factory. He soothed MPs into abandoning the censure move claiming that he was to handle the matter through the NRM caucus. That was the end of the story and the matter died a natural death. Its this impunity that later lured Muhanga into going for another 18 acres of UBC land that is currently being questioned.

On Farady Road alone in Bugolobi, UBC owned plots 8-10, 12-16 and 18-20 from which it curved out 18 acres that it had earlier intended to use in the construction of the Bugolobi Villa project that would comprise of 89 mansions and a club house. The project that was flagged off in 2008 was supposed to have been a joint venture between UBC and a certain Kenyan company was anticipated to generate US$13M from sale of the houses. The project stalled because of failure to secure the critical clearance and also the said Kenyan partner company gave its interest to Hassan Basajabalaba. In January 2011 Hassan Basajabalabe bought the said UBC 18 acres land though he later claimed to have bought 23.1 acres. In April 2011 Basajabalaba transferred the said land to his Haba group of companies. By August 2011 when the new Executive Director of UCB protested the sale by cancelling the sale agreement, the land had in question had already changed hands with new parties such as Deo & Sons, Margret Muhanga and SINBA (K) Ltd. Consequently, Deo & Sons sued UBC for cancellation of title yet they had brought the land from Haba Group.

The High Court ruled that the sale of land by Haba Group to Deo & Sons was illegal. Haba and Deo appealed to the Court of Appeal which also upheld the High Court’s ruling adding that the same had been illegal and fraudulent. They went to the Supreme Court but before the matter could be heard, they attempted to withdraw it on grounds that they had agreed on a consent judgement whereby UBC had agreed to pay 35.5b shillings but the Supreme Court rejected the withdraw and went ahead to hear the appeal before upholding the rulings of its subordinate courts and ordering UBC to refund Haba with 11.5b shillings. Margret Muhanga claims that it was after UBC had failed to refund 11.5b shillings that Deo & Sons sold the said land to her at 10.2b shillings. She went ahead to claim that Deo & Sons belongs to some army officers that she did not name. However, Deo & Sons Properties is a Limited liability company that was incorporated in Uganda in October 2008. Its Directors are Imam Mwebesa, James Magezi and Deogratius Obeowobusingye. Haba was incorporated in June 1996 and its directors are Hassan Basajabalaba, Muzamir Basajabalaba and Aisha Murungi. Available records show that UBC sold the land to Haba on 10th January, 2014, Haba in turn sold it to Deo & Sons on the same day at 12.46 p.m who in turn also sold it to Margret Muhanga two minutes later at 12.48 p.m.

Whatever the case, Margret Muhanga will retain the land. The regime Mafias have swung into action and the parliamentary committee will have to back off and they should not expect any further cooperation from the key players. The little information that they managed to extract from Margret Muhanga in the heat of passion is all that they will end at. That is what Museveni’s ‘Hakuna Mchezo’ means. Grabbing of public land has been and will Continue to take place by regime cronies. Butabika hospital land was taken by Museveni’s children, Nakasero, Kitante, Shimoni, Kololo, Nsambya railway, Naguru KCCA etc was taken then what is special with the ongoing UBC land saga.

HOW MUSEVENI IS AWARE OF ALL THE POOR SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE COUNTRY


the upmarket acacia avenue is under deluge.

the upmarket acacia avenue is under deluge.


BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP

Having started his political career as an intelligence officer and more especially in a communist background and setting, Uganda’s military dictator, Museveni values the flow of information on all aspects of public affairs right from the smallest unit at village level to the top at national level. All his decisions and policies are based on the information generated in such a way. During the Heros Day celebrations in Busoga in 2013, he asserted that he is aware of everything that happens in Uganda. In order of priority, here below are the different structures and sources through which Museveni gets to know all that is happening in the country pertaining to political, economic, social aspects.

1. Intelligence services
(a) Internal Security Organisation (ISO) has structures spread throughout the country i.e Parish (PISO), Sub-county (GISO), District (DISO), Region (RISO) and national level (Director General) who feeds Museveni.

(b) Military Intelligence – The army has units spread in all parts of the country. Every Unit has an Intelligence Officer and it has even created Zonal Intelligence Officers who man areas that have a small presence of military units. These Intelligence officers are stationed at independent units, Battalion, Brigade, Division up to the headquarters (CMI) who feeds Museveni. In their respective areas of operation, military intelligence officers gather information of political, economic and social nature on top of their military intelligence gathering role.

(c) Police- the police is spread throughout the country. At every police unit/station/post there is a department Crime Investigations and Intelligence (CIID. Traditionally, it was only Criminal Investigation Department (CID) but Museveni disbanded the intelligence branch of the police (SB) and gave the extra task of intelligence gathering to CID making CIID. The police officers in charge of CIID help their commanders to gather intelligence of crime, political, economical and social nature. This information flows from the remotest police post, to the zones, District, Regional, the police headquarters (IGP) who feeds the Museveni.

(d) State House Intelligence – this is an informal intelligence outfit that Museveni personally manages. It has a wide network and well facilitated both financially and logistically. It collects intelligence and inquires into any matter in any government sector.

(e) Army officers under NAADS – under the cover of fighting poverty, Museveni deployed army officers into the agricultural sector under the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS). The purpose was to widen his intelligence gathering networks. These army officers who are spread among the population throughout the country gather intelligence of military, political, economic and social aspect. Their reporting structures are Sub-county, District, zones, region, up to the national level to Museveni’s brother, Gen. Saleh who in turn reports to Museveni.

(f) Very soon he will have another intelligence outfit crafted out of his close religious allies – the Born Again Christians.

All the above outfits gather, compile, make recommendations and submit reports inform of Special Reports, daily Situation Reports, monthly reports, quarterly reports, mid-year reports, annual reports to the sole consumer who is Museveni. Actually the release of monthly operational funds by the headquarters of the respective organisation is conditioned on submission of these reports. On the contrary, failure to submit such reports calls for serious reprimand including withholding of funding. Intelligence gathering and reporting is heightened during the electioneering period where Museveni is briefed on every aspect before he goes for campaigns in any a given area. The formal of such intelligence reports touches of:
(i) Security – crime, threats, loopholes, successes etc
(ii) political – regime performance, opposition, dirty game – sabotaging of opposition, identifying fence sitters,
(ii) social – operations of NGOs,Civil society, religious organisations, service delivery, complaints from citizens, performance of health, education, agriculture, transport etc.
(iii) Economic – revenue collection, production, infrastructure, designing sabotages schemes for opposition leaning enterprenures, etc.

2. Local Government Structures
(a) Local Council (LC) I at the village, L.C II at the Parish, LC III at the Sun-county, and L.C V at the district all gather, compile and submit information in form of reports bottom-top up to the minister of Local Government who reports to Museveni.

(b) Resident District Commissioners – are the supervisors of all government programs in the district and get reports from all the sectors in the district and fuse them into one report which is submitted to the Minister In-charge of the presidency who in turn reports either directly to Museveni or through the Prime Minister.

(c) Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) – they supervise the different departments of the civil service under that particular district. The heads of different government departments at district level compile reports which they submit to the CAO who in turn also submits to the Minister of Public Service who also submits to the Prime Ministeror and then Museveni. But even the different heads of departments at district submit reports to their regional heads who in turn submit to their line Ministers and then to the Prime Minister who finally submits to Museveni.

With the above functioning structures that gather, compile and submit periodic reports on every aspect government operations at every level and from every corner of the country, Museveni is fully aware of the whole situation pertaining to service delivery and by feigning ignorance,Museveni is just playing on the intelligence of Ugandans.

MUSEVENI RAIDS COURT AGAIN – FROM BLACK MAMBA TO KIFEESI


BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP

Uganda’s military dictator, Museveni has once again raided courts of law in a wider scheme coerce judicial officers into submission as a judicial arm of his regime. Unlike the Police and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) which he has fully incorporated into his dictatorial regime, the judiciary still has some pockets of judicial officers who are determined to act professionally. Like in any other African dictatorship, the Museveni dictatorship treats members of the legal fraternity are as enemies of the state simply because they ‘undermine’ his schemes of manipulating the the rule of law. Like has been the case with Journalists, the legal fraternity under Museveni has borne the brunt of the military dictator.

BLACK MAMBA

The name Black Mamba was coined by the members of the public following a nasty incident in November 2005 when Museveni deployed hooded commandos donning black T/shirts and wielding Israel made Macro Garill machine guns raided the High Court to reverse a court order. These were commando soldiers under CMI who had been trained and armed by Israel retired army officers. It was on November 16th, 2005 when the High Court of Uganda granted bail to 14 civilians whom the Museveni regime had been accusing of treason in connection with the shadow PRA rebel group and linking them to opposition leader, Dr. Besigye. Before the suspects could regain their freedom, these heavily armed commandos besieged the High Court premises taking hostage all the top brass of the third arm of the state (judiciary), the suspects, their relatives and friends and other innocent people. The commandos forcefully arrested the 14 suspects and whisked them away before slamming terrorism charges on them before the General Court Martial the following day and remanded. The act received condemnation from all corners of the globe with the donor community cutting some aid. Later in Jan 2006 the the Constitutional Court ruled that the continued trial of the 14 suspects in the military court martial was illegal and ordered for their release but Museveni simply ignored the ruling and continued to hold the suspects in detention. The matter came to pass and it did not take long for Museveni to arrange another raid a year later.
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On March 1, 2007, Museveni deployed about 50 plain clothed security officers who raided the same High Court and rearrested five men whom court had just granted bail after they had spent 15 months on remand. During the scuffle, Lawyers, Journalists relatives of suspects and top judicial officers were subjected to a scuffle that left Advocate Kiyemba Mutale seriously assaulted by a senior police officer. The siege ended at around 8.30 p.m when the five victims attempted to leave the court premises in the company of the Deputy Chief Justice and the Principal Judge were brutally arrested them. They were taken to Bushenyi and Arua and charged with Murder. All the top Judicial officers condemned the act before they together with the lawyers went on strike for one week. The Minister of Internal Affairs, then Hon Rugunda described the strike as “an unwarranted decision” before adding that the government was investigating the matter and that appropriate action was to be taken after the results. Like had been the case with the 2005 raid by the Black Mambas, this incident was swept under the carpet and no one was made to account.

In July 2013, former Coordinator of Intelligence services, Gen. David Ssejusa while appearing on VOA told the world that the 2005 invasion of the High Court could not have occurred without the express authority and instructions of the highest office (Museveni). The then Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki in an interview with The Daily Monitor said that “…….if I had been in the country, the situation would have been different. The precincts of the court are sanctified, they are sacred. Its like an embassy, you don’t go to the American Embassy and arrest anybody”.

On 9th July 2016, Museveni deployed unruly youthful urban goons to attack the second arm of government (parliament) in protest against the summoning of his police chief by the parliamentary committee on Defense and Internal Affairs. As they fiercely fought with a rival faction, the brutal police which is usually brutal against other protesters just looked on because the goons had the express authority and instructions of the highest office (Museveni). The incident was swept under the carpet and the following day Museveni organized, facilitated and deployed more goons to attack the Chief Magistrates Court at Makindye. The court was scheduled to hear a matter where Museveni’s Police chief was accused of torturing citizens and he refused to appear in court but instead he implemented Museveni’s instructions of sending goons to terrorize the trial Magistrate and advocates. The goons threatened to lynch the advocates who had taken refuge in the Chief Magistrate and had to only be evacuated by the riot police in anti riot police cars amidst manhandling by the goons leaving their personal cars behind. One Advocate who dared to escape using his personal car had his car stoned and damaged by the same goons. The police just looked on and no such goon has been arrested. The Police issued a statement commending those goons for abiding by the law “The Uganda Police Force appreciates the fact that the group of demonstrators at the Grade I Magistrates’ Court in Makindye today complied with the requirement of the Public Order Management Act (S.5) of notifying the police so as to obtain guidance and security during the demonstration.” The Chief Justice has condemned the raid on Makindye Court “…..whoever is mobilizing supporters to come and disrupt court proceedings should stop”. The Uganda Law Society has also condemned the act and threatened to compile a list of those who are torturing citizens into the book of shame before calling for an expeditious inquiry into the siege of Makindye court. This was the best statement Museveni

Whatever the case, Museveni has realized that Ugandans are hopeless, helpless and toothless and can therefore do any mischief with impunity in pursuit of his hold on power. Fellow country men and women just prepare for more serious mischief as the officers of court prepares more sweet statements.

From riches to rags: the story of Okello and pioneer Buses!


By John Njoroge

The Pioneer Bus service and how one man -Alexander Okello- tears everyday

Few know Alexander Okello but have had the opportunity of riding the pioneer bus service in Kampala.

Minus the thieves and occasional breaking down of buses, the bus service reminds me of my times in Strasbourg-France in 2008.

Alexander Okello is a former multimillionaire. Once a flamboyant businessman and owner of a business empire under the flagship called Moyo hardware. I know him personally. I visit him numerous times at his current residence. He has cried in my presence and told me his problems- at least his version of why he has those problems.

Okello has 19 children with one wife and she looks beautiful and very very young. It is difficult to believe she gave bath to all those children. They are now grown up responsible people. Okello invested in his family in ways many will call extravagance.

When people take themselves and their children abroad for medical care most of you shout. Me I clap. It is a sign of responsibility and love for family. Although I do not support the “eat here and poop there” trend.

Okello’s children all studied abroad. Most still live abroad. Those in Uganda work in reputable companies. He educated them past university level. Unlike some of our prominent leaders, he was very particular with his daughters and made sure not only did they have university degrees, but they where able to get job without his help. He empowered them.

Okello once owned the entire George street- that is the street behind the Buganda road court and the Central Police Station in Kampala.

The Amamu House, on George Street, where the country’s National registry is housed was Mr Okello’s residence. He lived on the last two floors of that building, renting the rest of it to government of Uganda. Before that building had a lift, Okello had his own lift at the back. Okello was so wealthy that all he had to do was call a bank manager and a bullion van would deliver money to his home. All he had to do was sign the cheques from his pent house.

Those of you who know the building called Okello House, in Statehouse Nakasero, Mr Okello is the landlord.

Statehouse pays him a few million dollars every 5 years according to the tenancy agreement. Unfortunately Okello sees little of that money and it is actually purely his fault.

In Gulu, Okello owned many businesses among them, the Viva hotel that was famous for Alobo disco. In 2001 when I was working in Gulu I frequented that bar. It was where I meet the current speaker of the EAC Hon Dan Kidega and the Deputy SG of the NRM party Richard Todwong who later employed me for a year.

Alobo was where I met the late Col Walter Ochora who would flood me with beer and his humour. May he Rest In Peace.

Let me tell you in brief how the pioneer buses came to be in Kampala.

A former high school classmate of Bwana Okello [name withheld] approached him with a proposal. Okello was to give powers of attorney to this classmate for the Okello House. The classmate and other persons would then use the property to get a loan from a bank. The money would be used to purchase buses in a partnership deal with a powerful Kenyan businessman once a first son. Okello would then receive some money every month to keep him afloat.

You may wonder what I mean by “keep him afloat”.

Well, okello went down badly.

At the height of his wealth, he encountered some Nigerians at the Sheraton Hotel, who fed him on lies. They took him on a world wide full expenses paid tour of their “businesses” and convinced him to be their partner for a hefty fee which I will not mention.

Okello could foot that bill. A two figure million dollar figure, he could and very comfortably. His wife told me how she begged Okello not to get involved.

Okello was thinking of the Milky Way, not the sky!

In the end, Okello did that same round the world trip tour, expenses of his own, trying to track down those “business partners” of his and following his money.

All he got was high blood pressure. He is lucky he never ended up in wooden box.

The banks that treated him as king started taking his buildings in the city centre and across the country. His business empire collapsed. He was in and out if courtrooms and boardroom, pleading and negotiating hopelessly.

One top military General and one Asian hotel businessman, all once his drink buddies, where at the forefront of buying off his bank loans and taking his building.

Finally he was humiliated in public.

There is an auctioneer called Kirunda in this town. Very effective man always in a brown Kaunda suit- either he has one or many brown Kaunda suits I don’t know. Kirunda evicted Okello from Amamu house terribly. Okello’s property was literary thrown from the top floor to the grown. He lost so much valuable things that day.

The TV camera never had mercy on Okello. If you can find that clip, it’s on YouTube. White discharge was coming out of Okello’s mouth. He was tearing, sweating and in a panic, pleading with Kirunda. Sincerely Kirunda had no problem. He was doing his job and had no power to stop his own activity. But like a drowning man, who grabs on to a snake, Okello pleaded as his piano hit the ground from the 9th floor.

Fast forward.

Now here comes the classmate, with a “bailout” idea. Okello jumps for it. Signs off powers of attorney giving authority to this gentleman. The man left him, got a two digit million dollar loan and used just a fraction of that money to buy the U2 buses we now call Pioneer bus service.

Okello pursued his classmate for some money in vain. Once I visited the bus offices at the Namboole stadium and money was being counted from the floor. Later, a Newvison reporter also visited the offices and before long we where all writing about Pioneer bus. During my visit, I could not see the feet of those counting the money. I was not quick to write about it because I was looking for the contract. When I got the contract between KCCA and Pioneer bus, my story caused mayhem. I went to Rwanda for a week.

I see Okello once in a while. When he sees those buses, he looses a kilo, and stands Akimbo.

He stays indoors most of the time. He is so heavily in debt but the one thing he is happy about, he invested in his family.

So today I parked my car and I am riding pioneer. Join me upto 1pm.

Love you all!!!

REALITY CHECK FOR PRESIDENT ERDOGAN


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Friends,

It is interesting to follow how things are unfolding in Turkey. Just a few months ago Turkey’s strongman Erdogan was the bully in the region. But with European’s Union failure to honor her part of the infamous refugee crisis agreement, a coup attempt at home plus ongoing heavy crackdown on the citizens and a growing insurgency, President Erdogan does not only know whom to trust but he does not only know where to from here.

A few days ago President Erdogan did what his colleague did many months ago: visiting Moscow and ask for reassurances if not protection. The smart and yet dishonest and racist people like Netenyahu did exactly that at the dawn of Russia’s intervention in Syria. Netanyahu’s move enabled him keep the absurd Syrian war away from the Israel border while at the same time tried to annex the Golan heights.

Unfortunately, for Erdogan his realization that EU, NATO and USA are unreliable partners to his country has come a little late to save the economy and security if his country. His authoritarian and uncompromising leadership style is totally at odds with that of his partners.

We are just watching the space to see what his new found friendship with Russia’s Putin will lead to. What we know for sure is that things will never be the same in Turkey, thanks to the man who built the strong economy for Turkey and is now on course to ruin it. This is a predictable trait in all dictators. Soon or later Turkey will be looking for economic bail outs. One wonders which country will be next after Turkey. Your guess is as good as mind.

DR.IBRAHIM SENDAGILE
USA

How Dr Besigye survived death thanks to Waragi and fake currency


BY JOHN NJOROGE
KAMPALA

Many of you remember the 2011 Walk to Work campaign for its drama and chaos. Some of us lived that campaign everyday. Myself and photojournalist Isaac Kasamani swallowed teargas every week as we covered particularly Dr Kizza Besigye. Without medical by the way!!! Hmm
The routine was simple. Every morning by 6am we would find our way to Dr Besigye’s home in Kasangati and waited outside his gate for him to leave. Many times he literary “escaped” from us. We would be waiting outside only to hear he is in Kasangati town centre, yet a few minutes earlier, we had just seen him outside his gate saying good morning to us.
At first I did not understand why he did this. I mean, we, the media, where here to cover him. He had just come out of a heavily contested election which he believed had been stolen. We had heard rumours of how diplomats had been calling him asking him to stop the walk to work campaign but none of us could prove it, so we could not write it.
But what we could prove was that his life was in danger.
As a survival instinct, Kasamani and myself befriended the infamous police van crew UP1926. You all remember them. My best was Musa Walugembe. Musa is a very nice man. Make no mistake. He is very loyal to his country and a very obedient police officer. And a very good human being.
He is a hard worker too. You saw him in action. Many times I have said, that van, may have brutalized Dr Besigye, but taking him away usually saved lives, shockingly including his own as we where to discover.
For the longest time a plan was being cooked and it plotter were always in the walk to work crowds. Problems was how to get close to Dr Besigye because a number of loyal youth usually formed a tight ring around him.

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So one morning at 5am I called Dr Besigye. It was part of my routine to call him to find out if he would “be walking” from his home or he would “appear” from somewhere else so that I am there.
I owed my readers to make sure I was at the right place at the right time. My editors at the time Alex Atuhaire, Daniel Kalinaki, Henry Ochieng and Joseph Mazige depended on me for live updates of everything as it unfolded.
We literary had a command centre for walk to work. We had insiders at the FDC who would tell us the campaign strategy of the day. We had “friendlies” within the security system, particularly at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, who would tell us what intelligence they had gathered and where not to be at what time because several parallel forces where working day and night to ensure Dr Besigye is neutralized.
That 5am call was interesting. Dr Besigye told me he would not be walking. I was shocked. Really! Why? He told me he had a lot of work to catch up on and had decided to take the day off. Then he said something that really shocked me even more.
He said: “John, don’t come here because there is no need. I will not walk today. Please just don’t come.”
I remember these words so vividly. I was seated on my bed. I woke up my wife and told her what Dr Besigye had said. I wondered had I angered him? Did I write something funny? Ok, he says he is not walking but telling me not to go to his home, that is different.
Few journalists at the time had exclusive access to Dr Besigye like I did. It was a time when any association with him meant you are in the opposition. My “Friendship” with General Kale Kayihura ended because I was branded an opposition journalist. At one time I was at the Media Centre and Mr Ofwono Opondo said I had “one leg in an one leg out”.
I told my Mrs that I felt something was a miss. She was happy that I did not have to take that long Boda ride from Naalya to Kasangati in the wee hours. She told me to rest some more. And so I went “into the covers”. It was what I needed.
Hours later my phone rang at 7:45am. It was Mr Atuhaire.
“Where are you Njoroge?”
I told him I was at home. He told me there was a protest taking place at Dr Besigye’s home. I told him I spoke to Dr Besigye but he had told me he was not “going to work” since he had work to catch up on. Mr Atuhaire told me this was another protest, this time by his own FDC supporters.
“Go there now, I am sending a car and Kasamani is on his way”
I jumped out of bed. My son had gone to school and I did not say bye, I was in a panic. I jumped into the shower, madam made me a cup of tea without sugar. Before I went to bed the previous night, I had swallowed a bottle of something bitter-sweet so tea without sugar is magic.
But instead of going to Kasangati, I went to office. When I arrived, Mr Atuhaire nearly hit me with a cup.
“Why are you here? Something is happening at Besigye’s home leave now. Take a car.”
I did not even switch on my computer. I was frog matched to a car and driven to Kasangati. When I got to Dr Besigye’s home, it was calm. Nothing
I called Mr Atuhaire, told him nothing was happening. He was in shock. He told me to hang up and he calls back using the office line. When he called, he told me he was in complete shock because his intelligence sources had told him there was a protest at Dr Besigye’s home.
Alex Atuhaire is one of the most resourceful editors I have ever worked with. He never makes a decision without confirming and trusting but primarily confirming. Now his primary source had lied.
I activated my other source. I called my CMI friend who shockingly told me that same thing. That there was a protest at Dr Besigye’s home. I told him I was standing outside the man’s gate. Actually me and other journalists and there was nothing happening. He too was in shock. He told me to stay there and that he was coming but he would not get near the residence.
I called Dr Besigye. Remember he told me not to go to his home. When I told him I was outside he was enraged.
“I told you not to come here.”
Within minutes he was outside. We all ran to the gate. We told him we had been told there was a protest here. He said “I am not walking please go back to your offices.”
He looked at me and Kasamani and said please leave here. Kasamani and myself where is shock. The man is chasing us. Unaware of what was about to unfold.
I will not mention his name, but he is one of the most dangerous and effective operatives the Uganda Police force has. I saw his car passing at a distance. I know h because we are friends outside out two different jobs. I funny friendship between a killer and a human rights defender of a journalists. Many cannot understand such a friendship. How do you seat and eat with a person who’s daily life is planning death yet you claim to be defending life. We are still friends so I will not mention him here.
Makindye is an interesting place. The night before, a lorry collected men from Makindye and Katwe, gave them FDC membership cards and alcohol. They also gave them SHs 50,000 each.
These men where to arrive at Dr Besigye’s home by 7am, claiming to be polling agents of the just concluded 2011 election who had not been paid. All they where supposed to do is just shout and speak to the media that they had not been paid.
Oh oh….not to forget and also flash their FDC membership cards. 4am the alcohol was flowing for these chaps. Each of them had a 50k note an booze was all over. The person who came up with this idea had another plan. There was another group who’s job was to wait for Dr Besigye. As soon as he came out of his gate, they were to administer something to him.
It was going to look like Dr Besigye was harmed by his own supporters.
Time check 10am, suddenly, groups of youth started emerging at Dr Besigye’s house holding FDC cards and demanding for pay. Small droves, and they where drunk and they shouted “FDC oyee FDC oyee but we want our money we want to speak to Colonel”
Then I saw this Pickup, white in color. Stopped a distanced from DR Besigye’s residence. We all saw the car. Four men got out of it and mixed with the rest.
Dr Besigye suddenly emerged from his residence. As these youth ran towards him, we where shocked to see another group of youth emerging from Dr Besigye’s home.
A standoff.
The drunk youth here scattered. A few caught among them was one of the four men we saw coming out of the white pickup.
Those of you, in the media, who where at Dr Besigye’s home that morning remember what those captured boys said.

For starters they thought they where going to be killed. Dr Besigye however had his boys in control. They narrates where they where got, what they had been given and even showed as money. Then they told us that some of their colleagues had tried to purchase things in the morning but realised the money was fake. That way why they never made it at Dr Besigye’s home by 7am. Because the rest refused after realizing the money was fake.

Yes, nearly 50 youth were fed on alcohol and fake currency to cover up another mission. After they told us all they could, Dr Besigye asked his youth to release them. They ran to the “loving arms” of the police who all this time watched without intervention.
Dr Besigye lived another day thanks to fake currency and waragi. His sources, I later discovered, had briefed him. The master planner was actually this friend of mine. Doctor did not want me, Kasamani and those near him in the event this attempt was executed.
It was a Friday like today.

One can not put anything beyond the Ugandan Police!


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I thought Kayihura has all the guns, money and the support of the Appointing Authority. I thought this would be the time to clear his name and clean the image of the police. Although I was disappointed with the way things turned out, I was not surprised. One can not put anything beyond the Ugandan Police. Officer Baguma’s saga tells it all. In the past it was unthinkable that the Police force would do anything to shield somebody suspected of facilitating a murder or being negligent of his duty from prosecution. One wonders why he opted to use the goons or allow the goons invade the court. Anyway he is on record to have applauded the goons and the criminals in the police force he heads for beating up the helpless citizens.

Populist approaches to purely legal matters may not be of any benefit any one. One can never know when the very populist approach will work against such a person. It is a dangerous approach this highly learned friend chose take knowing very well that everyone needs the law to accord him or her a fair hearing. A mob justice does not solve anything. When you allow goons and mobs to work with and even be part of the police force, then you know something has gone totally wrong.

Let us pray for him but most importantly for our country so that we don’t go down that path. We have been there before. And the experience was not a good one. During the Obote’s second regime it were the men in police uniform that would organize “panda gari” raids and send citizens to fields where they were screened, the unlucky ones tortured and others killed. The police force that was supposed to protect people and their lives in the first place was the very force organize for their disappearance and possible death. And after that they would claim to be protecting people and their property. Hope we are not about to witness history repeating its self.

My honest prayers for you all.

DR.IBRAHIM SENDAGILE
USA

Buganda Land Board’s Legal Status explained!


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BY GEORGE OKELLO
LONDON

1. BLB is a legal entity that acts as an administrative arm of the Buganda kingdom, which I believe, is a legal entity recognised by the Ugandan Constitution. It is the equivalent of a department or section in a private Company.
2. BLB is agent of Buganda Kingdom and its powers and privileges are limited to the extent that the rights and privileges of the Buganda Kingdom are described in the Uganda Constitution.
3. BLB has no jurisdiction over land in Uganda or any other matter over land outside of those lands designated as property of the Buganda Kingdom.
4. BLB has no locus standing over national land issues, except only to the extent to which it is permitted to do so either by delegated legislation or where it is in conformity with its duties and responsibilities as the agent of the Buganda Kingdom.
5. BLB can sue or be sued in its capacity as agent of the Buganda Kingdom.
6. BLB is mandated to obey national laws regarding ownership, transfer and regulation of land. It must not breach any rights, obligations or privileges granted to it by Stautory land Laws.
7. BLB is subject to both the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the laws of Uganda.

PS:

1. The BLB is likely to get into dispute with several lease-holders in the years to come. This partcularly applies to people who obtained leases in the period 1967-1995 when Museveni’s Land Act was passed, the effect of which was to reverse President Obote’s nationalisation of properties previously belonging to Kingdoms and Colonial Chiefs under Colonial arrangements contained in the Buganda Kingdom of 1900, and the Uganda Independence Settlement of 1962.
2. The BLB is likely to get into legal disputes to people who acquired leases, rights or entitlements to Buganda Lands which were sequestrated under Mr Idi Amin’s Land reform Decree of 1975.
5. Of specific interest or concern will be the compensation to be awarded to people who acquired lease, licenses and entitlements in good faith in the period 1967-1999 and who have subsequently made developments on the land worth several millions of dollars in today’s money.

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