The Judiciary, security agencies, and victims of atrocities committed by the terror group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Monday condemned Robert Kyagulanyi for calling its former leader, Jamil Mukulu, a political prisoner.
Over the weekend, Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, defended Mukulu, who was remanded to Luzira prison after being charged with treason and murder.
Calling Mukulu ‘our brother’, Kyagulanyi said “he was arrested and imprisoned because he was not in agreement with the way our country was being governed”.
The former National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate in the 2021 election was speaking as a guest during the Duwa prayers for Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s late father, Muhammad Mirundi, in Kabungo village, Kalungu district.
‘SUPPORTER OF TERRORISTS’
Defence spokesperson Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye described Kyagulanyi as an ADF sympathiser and that he had been bankrolled to carry on with the mission they had failed — to block Uganda from producing its oil.
UPDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye
He also said it was clear Kyagulanyi supported terrorists.
“Mukulu was financed by the then Khartoum (Sudan)
government of deposed president Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir to block our oil production way back in 1986. The same government was supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.
“Now after linking with the international terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ADF had gotten more energy, but because of Operation Shujaa, which is succeeding, the backers of ADF are losing out. Therefore, Mukulu’s ambassador has become Kyagulanyi. It is evident that he has become the ambassador of ADF and no wonder he has brought back the agenda of Bashir,” Kulayigye said.
He said Mukulu was before competent courts of law which would determine his fate.
“For us we know Mukulu is before courts of law charged with capital offences. Students of Kichwamba Technical School who were massacred by ADF commanded by Mukulu — if you call him a political prisoner, it means you condone the burning of those students,” Kulayigye added.
LEAVE IT TO THE COURT
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said: “It is prejudicial to go on analysing a matter that is before the courts of law. The circumstances under which he was deported are very clear and the cases with which he was charged are very clear. There are people who were murdered. There are atrocities, which he committed against Ugandans. So how do you say he is a political prisoner when there are people who lost their loved ones?”
Defence deputy spokesperson Col Deo Akiiki said it was not Kyagulanyi’s responsibility to decide whether Mukulu was terrorist or not.
“The atrocities committed by ADF, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation which Jamil Mukulu superintended over, are well documented. Whether he is a political prisoner or a terrorist is not anyone’s responsibility to decide, but the courts of law where he is today.”
Judiciary spokesperson Jameson Karemani said he had not seen the video of Kyagulanyi, but said the sub judice rule restricts public discussion of matters before the courts of law in the country and warned members of the public to desist.
BEREAVED SPEAK OUT
Jane Ssempila, the mother of John Hannington Muyomba, one of the over 100 students of Kichwamba Technical Institute, who were burnt to death when the ADF rebels attacked the school in June 1998, said she was hurt by Kyagulanyi’s statement.
“As a bereaved parent, I am hurt by such a reckless statement. My son died in the fire. It makes me sad to think of the pain he went through as he died. Most of those who lost their loved ones are yet to get to terms with it. After 24 years, we are yet to get compensated,” she said.
Silver Mukwasibwe, the principal of Kichwamba Technical School, said they were yet to fully come to terms with the brutal killings of 1998.
During the Duwa prayers for Lukwago’s late father Muhammad Mirundi in Kabungo village, Kalungu district over the weekend, said: “The political prisoners in Uganda are not the NUP supporters only; even when I was still an artiste, those who opposed them were imprisoned. I am telling you these words, I don’t care if I get imprisoned because of these words. I will not fear whether I am considered to be preaching hate, but I am doing it officially — hate what is wrong and its perpetrators.”
On Mukulu, Kyagulanyi said: “We have had many examples; there is our brother in prison now. Many are afraid to talk about him, but he is a political prisoner. His name is Jamil Alirabaki Kyagulanyi. Many know him as Jamil Mukulu. He was arrested and imprisoned because was not in agreement with the way our country was being governed.
“The only difference we have from Jamil Mukulu is that we are using words and nonviolent means to fight. People got annoyed when men dressed in army uniforms that belonged to Obote’s government invaded villages in Luwero and killed civilians. I am quoting Kahinda Otafiire’s words which he said at a certain burial function in the western region.”
Kyagulanyi further said: “When Museveni [President Yoweri Museveni] disagreed with [Idi] Amin and [Milton] Obote, he picked up arms and fought and he killed more than 50,000 people. Jamil Alilabaki Kyagulanyi viewed it wrong and chose to use his hands to remove it. I, for one, respect him. I do not know how you view it.”
Kyagulanyi said Mukulu was a strong believer (imaani kaali) and all Muslims know it is righteous before God.
“Other people that must get concerned must be weak who lack determination to attack them. Let us use the weak means and stand on our feet to speak the truth without fear. Please hate what is wrong and its perpetrators,” he noted.
“The main reason Museveni wanted Inter-party Organisation for Dialogue was not that we had to agree with him, but to give him a chance to negotiate our price. He does not know that even relating with him is evil, they want to have photo moments with us and wave them to the world that all is well,” Kyagulanyi said.
He said in Buganda, when someone does evil, “we disassociate ourselves from him. There is no reason as to why you should associate with someone who abducts people”.
“In Luganda, we say ‘tell me the person you relate with and I will describe your character. Someone who embezzled funds for road and hospital construction. I want to let you know that not all that is lost in our country. We always talk about problems and forget to give you hope. Time to be in a well-deserved nation is near,” he said.
Kyagulanyi added: “Those who were tormenting us were using our wealth.”
He said he and someone from South Africa had written a book called Expensive poverty explaining that it is our wealth that is turning into a curse.
“It has been a combined effort for us and our colleagues in other political parties and diaspora. We have travelled the world telling the whites that they donate money to Uganda without conditions. We asked them to put conditions, restricting them [not] to use the money to buy arms.
If all the money from our oil lands in Museveni’s hands, he will use it to buy nuclear weapons and do all that he wishes. We insisted that he will not extract and refine our oil. Please convince the public that those of us who are preventing Museveni from extracting oil are not enemies of our country.
“We love our country and want all people to enjoy it regardless of their religion and tribe. Let us unite; we have many differences, but the freedom we are fighting for is a unifying factor. Let us not fight for positions,” Kyagulanyi said.
Mukulu, who was hiding quietly in Tanzania was arrested in April 2015 after security nabbed his accomplices over forgery of passports. Tanzanian security raided Mukulu’s hideout in April 2015 and he was extradited to Uganda in July 2015. He was first locked up in the dreaded Nalufenya detention centre.
ADF former leader, Jamil Mukulu
At Nalufenya, Mukulu declined to confess to his atrocities until his mother was brought from Kayunga district where he was born, prompting him to open up, security sources privy to the interrogation, said.
He was later charged in court. In September 2019, the International Crimes Division of the High Court confirmed 19 counts, including murder against Mukulu and 37 others.
Other charges included terrorism, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and being a member of a terrorist organisation, ADF.
Mukulu and 37 others were implicated in the murder of seven people, including Sheikh Abdukadir Muwaya and Sheik Yunus Abubakeri Mandangu.
Muwaya was murdered on December 25, 2014, at Kavule LC1 in Mayuge district. Others who were killed were LC3 chairperson Tito Kwa, Julius Owori, Police constable Muzamir Babale, Special Police Constable Karim Tenywa and John Stephen Owori.
According to prosecution, the accused committed the offences between 2002 and 2015 in various districts, including Kampala, for purposes of influencing the Government or intimidating the public for political, religious, social or economic aim.
The acts were carried out indiscriminately without due regard to the safety of others or property. Mukulu and ADF are also linked to the attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute in Kabarole where over 100 students were killed in June 1998.
CHANGE IN ADF COMMAND
Following the arrest of Mukulu in 2015, Musa Seka Baluku became the leader of the ADF, which is also said to have links with another terrorist group in Mozambique.
Baluku reportedly first pledged allegiance to the Islamists in 2016. However, it was not until April 2019 that Islamic State terrorists acknowledged their activities in the area when they claimed an attack on army positions near the DR Congo border with Uganda.
In November last year, the joint armies of Uganda and DR Congo launched an operation against the ADF code-named Operation Shujaa after the terror group was accused of carrying out two suicide bombings that claimed three lives and left scores injured Kampala last November.
The operation commanded by Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga of Ugandan army and his counterpart, Maj. Gen. Bombele Comille, the commander of the Congolese army, saw the terror groups flushed out from its bases in Ituri province, forcing them to flee further as several of its terrorist commanders and followers were killed.
ABOUT THE ALLIED DEMOCRATIC FORCES
Of the over 100-armed groups active in eastern DR Congo, the ADF is accused of being responsible for the massacre of more than 6,000 civilians since 2013, according to a tally by religious authorities.
The eastern region of DR Congo has, for long, been a cradle of rebel activity, often the spill-over of conflict in neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
The ADF were originally Ugandan Muslim rebels.
They are now touted by Islamic State terrorist group as its branch in central Africa. The ADF was formed in the 1990s from Buseruka in Uganda.
Most of the pioneer members were Tabliqs, then calling themselves the Uganda Muslim Freedom Fighters, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda who allied with the remnant fighters Rwenzururu under Richard Kinyamusithu.
Supported by former Congolese president Mobutu Sese Seko, the rebels first elected Abdallah Kabanda as their leader, deputized by Jamil Mukulu and one Hosea, who was later replaced by Mzee Fenahasi Kisokeranio, a former leader in the Rwenzururu kingdom.
The ADF high command also included Henry Matovu (army commander), Cris Tushabe aka Benz (chief of staff), Kasangaki Kiwewa, Swaib Kigozi and Commander Tiger, the chief of combat operations.
In several of their communications, the ADF said they wanted to overthrow the government of President Museveni, a Christian, and replace it with an Islamic one.
The last time the ADF, numbering about 100, attempted to attack Uganda was in 2007 at Semliki National Park, but only very few reportedly survived the Ugandan army’s fire.
ADF first operated in the Rwenzori sub-region before the Uganda People’s Defence Forces flushed them out in 2001 and they shifted their base to North Kivu province in eastern DR Congo.
An investigative report by the UN panel of experts released in January 2015, showed that ADF has networks in DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and the UK from where the rebel outfit receives funds through electronic transfers.