Uganda: Journalist Blames Govt. On Kayiira Murder

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A long buried Scotland Yard report on the murder of a Uganda rebel and politician 20 years ago is now at the center of a political firestorm in Uganda.

On March 6, 1987, Lotakoome Andrew Kayiira, the head of Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM), a guerrilla group that had fought against Milton Obote’s government, was murdered while in the house of a friend, journalist Henry Gombya.
Reportedly, 10 gunmen had stormed Gombya’s residence and Kayiira, who was popular in Buganda, was shot to death. When Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement won power, Kayiira had been appointed Energy minister. Later that year, Yoweri Museveni’s government –which had prosecuted Kayiira on allegations of plotting to overthrow the government; of which charges he was acquitted and only released two days before his murder – invited UK’s Scotland Yard to probe the murder, to deflect criticism that government played a role in the murder, which role officials have denied.

The Museveni government had not officially released the Scotland Yard report’s findings—The New Vision, the government-owned newspaper published what it called the official version, after the Democratic Party (DP), a Ugandan opposition party, had made available what party officials said was a copy of the report.

An article in The New Vision today said the DP’s version of the report released last week was a “fake.” In the DP version, wrote the Vision, “Paragraphs referring to the money-issue and implicating Henry Gombya, the key-witness, into the murder were deleted, while a 12-page statement of Gombya was inserted, which was not in the genuine report.”

Added the Vision article, a “paragraph on Evidence from NRA contacts was added, while the conclusions were altered. The DP version states as the most credible hypothesis that ‘NRA functionaries were behind the murder of Dr. Kayiira for political reasons’ while the genuine report believes the option of a robbery gone wrong is the most likely conclusion.” Moreover, according to the Vision, the font types in the DP version of the report hadn’t yet been introduced by the time the genuine report had been prepared.

Norman Miwambo caught up with Gombya –who escaped into exile after Kayiira’s murder – again at the center of the firestorm, for an interview. Gombya says since there is a pending court case, he can’t offer a description of the person he “now” suspects killed Kayiira.

Is it not surprising to you or any sober person that, with the presence of Interpol in this world, which has capacity to arrest, to date you have never been indicted? I mean, as it is alleged, that, you’re a prime suspect.
HG:  No, I am not surprised that the Uganda Government has not asked Interpol to arrest me. This is simply because they know that any attempt to do this would bring out the truth. That is, Scotland Yard would be forced to submit its report to a British court to see whether I had anything to do with this murder. The Museveni government knows that if it dared go down this route its lies would be exposed without any mercy.

BSN: You were a prominent and once very active journalist, where have you been since for two decades?
HG:  I spent the first five years in Britain trying to get used to being away from home and legalizing my stay here. It was not easy but I was finally allowed to stay and eventually became a British citizen. Then I have spent the last 15 years studying for my degrees in African history and journalism as well as completing my doctorate.

BSN: Why do you think fellow journalists have been so reluctant or took little interest in this high profile murder?
HG: Ugandan journalists have not been reluctant about reporting the Kayiira slaying. They have covered it fully, albeit in a very one-sided manner that has made it look as if I am the culprit. That has angered me so much. Many journalists have fallen in a trap set by the Ugandan government, because they are pursuing me and ignore the other side. For the last 20 years, it is surprising that no journalist has ever pursued or researched to what President Museveni said just after the release of Dr. Andrew Kayiira. Nobody has ever asked why of all people Dr. Andrew Kayiira opted to getting sanctuary at Gombya’s house.
Before Dr. Kayiira was arrested he had a house but no body has ever asked where did the house go. Journalists have never pursued the lines of finding out about the sniffer dogs. Why don’t journalists take initiative to find out those people claimed by the so called Scotland Yard report to have sent the money to Dr. Kayiira through me? Considering what’s contained in what is claimed to be the Scotland Yard [report] you can be surprised by how—amateurish our journalists are. Who am I to go and tell the Prison Authority that you should not release Dr. Kayiira? Someone must be so naïve to believe that theory. First of all Prison Authorities were not the ones that ordered the release of Dr. Andrew Kayiira, he was released by High Court. Any sober person would pose a question that ‘Journalists have powers to order the arrest after someone has been released by court?’ I think those are the main and key areas where any interested and a good investigative journalist would concentrate.

BSN: The State owned news paper The New Vision has published what is said to be the Scotland Yard report in the murder of Dr. Kayiira. What do you know of the Scotland Yard Report?
HG: I do not have any idea what is and is not in the so-called Scotland Yard report. I have never seen it and have not tried at any time to ask Scotland [Yard] to make it available for me. As far as I am concerned, whether that report is made public or not, it does not matter to me. What matters is what I have said all along. I have never in any way been responsible for the killing of Dr Kayiira. It does not matter what anybody else says. I was in the house and I know I did not have a hand in what happened on that fateful day and wherever Andrew is, he knows I did not have anything to do with his demise. So for me, Scotland Yard report or not, I know I did not have anything to do with this outrageous murder.
BSN: Do you still remember the Scotland Yard officer who interrogated you?
HG: The Scotland Yard officer who interviewed me was Superintendent Thompson.

BSN: What do you know about Dr. Kayiira’s slayers and what evidence do you
know or seen?
HG: I do not know anything about Dr. Kayiira's killers. All I have is hearsay and that cannot be proved in a court of law.

BSN: Would you mind to give just a simple description of the Muganda Brigadier who [allegedly] killed Dr. Andrew Kayiira?
HG: Again what I have is hearsay and as there is still a court case pending, I cannot give a description of a person I now suspect to have carried out this act. What I have is hearsay and it cannot be accepted in a court of law.

Don’t you think that it’s time to [divulge] your vast knowledge about this murder so that the killers can be brought to justice?
HG: It is wrong to say I have a “vast knowledge” of this murder. What I have always suspected is that this killing was a political assassination that could only have been carried out by orders from very high circles. I have spoken to several people and many have given me their ideas with probable and possibilities. But once again all I can say is that these are all hear-says and cannot stand a chance in any court of law. There is no physical evidence. That is where a report from Scotland Yard can help as they used scientific research to investigate the scene of the crime.

BSN: Has the government of Uganda in any way ever tried to intimidate you even when you’re in exile?
HG: Soon after the Museveni government came to power in 1986, I filed a story in which I said there had been an attempt on the life of President Museveni when his helicopter came down on the outskirts of Kampala. He was not in it but I had received information that some people had tried to eliminate him. When my report appeared in the papers I was summoned to State House Entebbe where I think I could say I was intimidated. But I stood my ground and was left free. Since coming to the UK, I have not been intimidated at all and I do not think they can dare do that as I would tell them where to go.

BSN: This fiasco seems to be a hot-potato at this moment. Are you not afraid about your safety?
HG: As a British citizen I am protected by the laws of my country and know that any foreign government that tried to harm me would face the wrath of Her Majesty's Government. But having said that, I do take good care of myself and I am very mindful of what sort of company I keep.
BSN: Do you think one day, the government of Uganda will ever swallow its pride and prosecute Dr. Kayiira’s killers?
HG: It is my belief that the killing of Dr Kayiira was a state-sponsored assassination. There is now way the present government can prosecute itself.
BSN: What is your opinion about the current political situation in Uganda?
HG: I do not believe in any government that stays in power for more than 10 years. Museveni has been in power now for over 20 years. He has run out of ideas concerning the future of his country and has succumbed to the inevitable road of most dictators - thinking that no one else can rule the country apart from him. Much as Ugandans are fed up of wars, the way things are going at the moment only point in one direction. Another armed struggle is pending.
BSN: And what would be your reaction to what Brigadier Kasirye said? [Brig. Kasirye Gwanga is one of several senior Uganda military officers who have announced plans to sue Uganda’s The Daily Monitor, which published details of the DP’s allegedly “fake” version of the Scotland Yard report].
HG: It’s surprising because I haven’t mentioned the name of the particular person and there are some other Baganda Brigadiers. Then why has he come out—is he guilty? It’s up to the readers and followers of these events to decide for themselves.


Miwambo reports for The Black Star News from London

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