Uganda: How Break Into Mbabazi Lawyers’ Office Happened – Eyewitness Account

By Isaac Imaka, Ivan Okuda and Anthony Wesaka

Kampala - The office, according to Mr Mohammed Mbabazi's staff, was raided at 3am by armed people wearing military uniform and uniform resembling that of the Uganda police on Wednesday morning. The unidentified attackers made off with computers and documents and beat up two private security guards who tried to intervene.

A guard (names withheld) who keeps watch at the office, talked to our reporters before being advised by his superiors to leave the premises for security reasons. In his account, "things turned unusual" as early as 7pm on Tuesday when Mr Mbabazi's legal team convened for a meeting that ended late.

Suspicious movements

"I saw suspicious movement of men who appeared plain-clothed security operatives in a white Toyota Hiace Super Custom van. I alerted the bosses and one of them said they had seen the same van and people at the Go Forward offices in Nakasero," the guard narrated.

He said he took up the duty of reconnaissance that evening, advising the lawyers and other support staff when to leave and alerting others they were being trailed. Indeed as the interview went on at the scene yesterday, the guard pointed at plain-clothed men who stood outside the gate, around Moil Fuel Station for hours on end.

Fearing for his safety, he said he left the premises at around midnight and followed the events from across the road. It was from there that he saw the break-in, some of the armed men jumping over the fence while others broke through the main entrance.

Guards arrested

After the break-in, the security alarm went off. A few moments later, three security men from Protectorate SPS, the company hired to guard the premises, arrived. One, the driver of the private security firm remained in the car while two guards attempted to access the premises. They were arrested and immediately hounded into the waiting Toyota Hiace Super Custom van and only screams could be heard coming from the van.

They were driven off and dumped in Kikaya about seven kilometres from the scene.

Mr Godfrey Wandera, the liaison manager at the security firm, said the company has no guards on site but operates an alarm system in their clients' premises which in the event of an attack alerts the control room. "When we got the alert, we sent a rapid response patrol team that dashed here and two of them were beaten by the attackers and dumped in Kikaya (in Kawempe) late in the night. They made their way to police and reported the case," Mr Wandera said.

"We took them for first aid at our company clinic in Namuwongo and we shall take them for further medical attention," he added.

Where the two guards were dropped is about seven kilometres from Wandegeya, the place of the raid.

Daily Monitor spoke to a guard at Moil Fuel Station, opposite the scene of the raid.

"At around midnight, a white Super Custom parked at the fuel station. I became suspicious and informed a policeman who was in civilian attire. His shoes were for policemen and he introduced himself as such. He called the divisional police commander for Wandegeya who said those were police men on duty and that they had an operation," said the guard who, under instructions from his boss, refused to be identified.

With the reassurance of the police that all was well, the guard retreated to his duty and did not bother to find out where the Super Custom went thereafter.

When our team visited Wandegeya Police Station, the officer in charge who preferred to identify herself by one name, Kyatusiimire, said: "The case has not been reported here."

Asked whether the station sanctioned the operation in the area the previous night, she said: "We didn't have an operation and when we have people from other stations, they report here to announce their presence in our area of jurisdiction."

Police response

Ms Kyatusiimire referred this newspaper to the Wandegeya DPC for further information but he was not available for a comment by press time. Police spokesman Fred Enanga said Interpol Police chief Asan Kasingye would address the press on the matter.

Mr Mbabazi said they were reluctant to report the matter to police with (Ms Alziik Namutebi) a managing partner in the firm saying, "It goes without saying that this was a security operation. Why would we report to the same people?"

When police went to the scene, they were denied access. Mr Mbabazi only said, "It is a shame if police did this. Why would anyone do this in a country with rule of law?"

Source All Africa