CSI-Crime, Suspense, Intrigue
Twenty months after Moses Ainebyoona was murdered by political rivals, his killers are still walking free, writes Charles Etukuri and Fred Turyakira
When Moses Ainebyoona joined the National Resistance Army, his resolve was to join politics at one point and serve as one of the local leaders in Ibanda, his home district. So when an opportunity presented itself in 2011, he retired from the army and set his eyes on the Local Council III elections.
The race for Ishongorero Town Council provided him with a perfect opportunity. He contested in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries, but lost and gracefully bowed out in favour for the official flag bearer, whom he supported and also campaigned for.
Then came the parliamentary and presidential campaigns. “He was one of the most active agents in the area, traversing the district, campaigning for President Yoweri Museveni who was the NRM flag bearer in the presidential elections. He chose to campaign for me and was my chief campaigner,” says Ibanda North MP, Xavier Kyoma.
The parliamentary race had attracted five candidates who included Gideon Mugisha of UPC, Donald Murigye of FDC, the incumbent Maj. Guma Gumisiriza, Francis Nkwasibwe of the Uganda Federal Alliance and two independents Mark Tayebwa and David Byamukama.
As the election date drew closer, so did the tensions in the district. “There was violence everywhere and the electorate was polarised that life in the district was uncertain.
Despite receiving numerous death threats Ainebyona remained steadfast. On February 17, 2011, just a day to the general election at about 10:00am, Ainebyoona was driving a Toyota Caldina vehicle registration number UAJ 228H to town when he came face to face with hostile supporters of a rival camp.
Ainebyoona, together with two other occupants in the car, Moses Tugume and Stephen Kajungu from Ibanda were attacked. This happened when they reached Kambendyaho trading centre. Ainebyoona’s car was blocked by two approaching vehicles that were being driven at a terrific speed.
During the trial, one of the witnesses stated that Gumisiriza had ordered his supporters driving his pickup truck to knock the oncoming car after an informer told them Ainebyoona was in the said vehicle.
Joseph Ruhinda who served as a secretary to Guma during the election period stated in his statement, “on February 17, 2011, at about 10:00am, Guma instructed me and Adam to sit in his Corona car and go. I tried to ask him where we were going, but he insisted on the word ‘drive’.
I sat in the co-driver’s seat , Adam was our driver and Paul and the MP sat in the back. His pick up vehicle and two other vehicles followed us behind. Manuel who had come from Mbarara was driving one of the Premio cars silver in colour.
Guma instructed Adam to follow the Kamwenge Road but we turned to a certain feeder road. At the signpost of Nyansimbo, Guma ordered the driver, one Adam, to knock any vehicle they found along the way.”
“Guma got so annoyed and started blaming Adam (the driver) asking why he had not knocked the Caldina as earlier instructed. He even slapped Adam,” said Ruhinda
“We made a U turn and on the directives of Afande Guma who told the driver to follow the Caldina. We found the vehicle in the middle of the road and Adam knocked it.”
During the trial it also emerged that Guma had a brief meeting with his supporters at his residence earlier in the day and they planned sporadic violence to scare of his rivals’ supporters.
The supporters of Guma were heard saying the deceased’s car was the one they were targeting. Guma was also heard saying rather than lose his seat as MP he would go with someone from Kyoma’s Camp.
Realising that he had been cornered, Ainebyoona abandoned the car at Katojo Cell and ran into the bush. By the time Adam rammed into the car, Ainebyoona was not in the car and had managed to break out of the siege with Guma’s supporters who were already at the scene in hot pursuit.
He escaped into a house where he locked himself in. “Then a pick-up car also came from Nyansimbo side and parked there with many people on it wearing Guma’s T-shirts.
All the said people alighted from the pick-up and then surrounded a house in the trading centre and broke its door with a hammer. All the people entered the house and picked Ainebyoona and threw him outside.
They then put him on the pick-up car with legs dangling and drove away towards Nakasero trading centre,” reads the courts records.
In the court records, witnesses says as the group pursued Ainebyoona, the car carrying Guma packed briefly with Guma seated in the car that had hit Ainebyoona’s car. Later, he rushed off to Ishongorero Police Post where he reported the accident, but not the beating.
Realising that his assailants were about to break into the house he was hiding in, Ainebyoona phoned Kyoma’s wife and requested her to send Policemen to rescue him.
A call was immediately made to the Police, but by the time they arrived to the scene, Ainebyoona had been severely beaten.
The Police rushed to the scene and found Ainebyoona badly beaten. Some of the suspects were found at the scene holding sticks and knives and the motor vehicles registered UAE 616N, a Toyota Hilux Double Cabin and UAJ 829R, that was used to take Ainebyoona to Ishongorero Health Centre IV were still packed at the scene.
Earlier in the day, sources say, the prime suspect had held a series of meetings with his supporters to plan the day’s violence.
“They even had names of whom to attack.”
After beating Ainebyoona, the suspects drove him to the health centre, but he died before getting there due to excessive bleeding.
A postmortem examination revealed that Ainebyoona died of hemorrhagic shock due to compressed brain.
Five suspects were arrested and later transferred to Mbarara after Ainebyona’s supporters threatened to storm the Police post where they were held.
Those arrested had been clearly identified by the Police who reached the scene immediately the incident took place, eyewitnesses also recorded statements that implicated the accused.
The Prosecution presented Moses Tugume and Stephen Kajungu who were with Ainebyoona when their vehicle was allegedly knocked.
They were also able to identify the occupants of the other cars and those that had pulled the deceased out of the car that morning and it was on the basis of their statements that the Police made the arrests.
After a protracted court battle, the trial judge Justice Dr. Andrew Bashaija, ruled early this year that although the witnesses’ evidence was not contested in court, prosecution led by Alex Michael Ojok, had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offence.
Ainebyona’s wife, Zahara being helped by a
Police woman and a relative at Mbarara
High Court after she collapsed.
Ainebyona’s widow, Zahara, collapsed in court as the judgment was pronounced. “I cried in court. Where was justice? Why were they acquitting my husband’s killers and yet 18 witnesses had been brought to court during the hearing and all clearly given testimony of the threats he had received, who had landed the first fatal blow, who commandeered the attack?” she asked.
The judge ruled that despite the fact that the two key witnesses, Tugume and Kajungu, were with the deceased on the fateful day, no one had facts to tie the principal suspect and his co-accused at the scene of the crime.
“I have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. If that has not been accomplished, I feel uncomfortable to convict the accused. I acquit the accused,” the judge ruled.
However, Ainebyoona’s family members are not satisfied with the judgment and neither is the state attorney who feels that the trial judge may not have addressed himself properly on certain issues of the law. They are, therefore, appealing
Ainebyona’s mother is still shaken by the incident.
“I feel like protesting by going to the head of state to seek justice for my son. Why are his killers roaming around freely?
The other day they threatened my other son because he was following up the matter,” she said.
“My son contributed to the liberation of this country. I’m surprised that his case is just being left to go cold like that. We shall not rest until justice prevails because my son was killed and his killers are known,” she added.
Sunday Vision has since learnt that some of the suspects left the village the moment the case was dismissed and that the Directorate of Public Prosecution had appealed the judgment.