Special Reports

Mirundi: Army chiefs sacrificing Kulayigye to hide dirty secrets

Col Kulaigye interviewing Museveni at State House Nakasero

Col Kulaigye interviewing Museveni at State House Nakasero

Presidential advisor on media matters, Tamale Mirundi, says suspended Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] chief political commissar Col Felix Kulayigye, is being sacrificed by his dirty bosses.

Kulayigye is under investigation for participating in a fake gold saga.

Ankunda fighting Kulayigye?

Critics have since accused army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, of holding a personal vendetta against Kulayigye who he succeeded.

They allege that firstly, Ankunda is afraid of Kulayigye’s possible redeployment as army mouthpiece.

“Kulayigye is a sober, measured communicator,” a tweep said.

Secondly, according to critics, Ankunda is also pushing his ambition to replace Kulayigye as chief political commissar.

The accusations are based on the way Ankunda “happily” announced the suspension of Kulayigye.

He claimed having received ”incessant calls” about the fate of Kulayigye who is also a representative of the army in parliament.

“Like a co-wife celebrating the estrangement of another woman,” another tweep commented on Ankunda’s “incessant calls” statement.

Even Sarah Kagingo, a PR Authority and Executive Director Soft Power Communications [a PR firm] was shocked by the way Ankunda reported the matter.

“How come Paddy Ankunda sounds excited tweeting as if he is celebrating a co-wife’s fall?” she queried.

Mirundi’s theories

Mirundi, on the other hand, suggests some army bosses who have amassed wealth illegally and committed atrocities are afraid of being exposed by Kulayigye, the reason they want him discredited early enough.

Back in June this year, the Chief of Defence Forces [CDF] Gen Katumba Wamala ordered the army to investigate Col Felix for his involvement in fake gold deals.

Appearing on ABS TV programme dubbed “Tomorrow’s Leader” recently, Mirundi said mafia politics has penetrated the army.

“Those who stole Congo’s natural resources [gold, diamonds and timber] are left alone but they now want to choke Kulayigye,” he wondered.

The International Court of Justice has since ordered Uganda to pay $10bn compensation to the Democratic Republic of Congo for looting during the 1998-2003 war.

Gen Kayihura, Maj Gen Otafiire implicated

The November 2012 UN Security Council Report on Congo, accused Kampala of supporting M23 rebels citing the Inspector General of Police, Lt Gen. Kale Kayihura, as coordinating with M23 rebels and trading Congolese gold through Uganda.

70kg of gold was exported in 2012 through Kampala to United Arab Emirates.

Kayihura was then the Operational Commander of the UPDF forces in Ituri Province, where he headed the Anti-Smuggling Unit.

Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire who in the same year was cited in Shs1.8 billion Tanzania fake gold deals, between 1998 and 2001, he served as the political head of the Uganda Military Expedition into the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The report said Gold worth at least $400m was smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda and other East African countries in 2013.

In May 2015, Enough Project, a Washington-based NGO said illicit conflict gold supply chain moves mainly through Uganda and Burundi, where military officers allegedly also profit, and then much of the gold arrives in Dubai.

According to Mirundi, while Kayihura and Otafiire were rewarded with good offices, Kulayigye is being witchhunted and used as a sacrificial lamb.

Somalia, ghost pilot scandals

Mirundi wondered why Kayihura and Katumba were not actively investigating those who stole fuel and food during the Somalia mission.

In 2013, Brig Michael Ondoga and two subordinates shocked the nation after they reportedly stole and sold the army’s food, fuel and weapons meant to fight Al Shabaab militants.

In June this year, five more soldiers were arrested in Somalia for stealing fuel and other army gear.

Only this month, the Daily Monitor reported that UPDF paid “ghost” pilot, a one Valeri Ketrisk, alias Keti Ketriski SK, $618,000 (approximately Shs2.7 billion) in monthly salaries and another $120,000 (approximately Shs402 million) in gratuities between October 2005 and February this year.

The Commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Air force (UPDAF), Maj Gen Samuel Turyagyenda, has said his signature was forged by unscrupulous people in the recruitment and maintenance of a suspected “ghost” Russian pilot on the army’s payroll for a period of 11 years.

Payments were only stopped after the CDF Katumba instituted an internal probe into alleged “consistent reports pertaining to gross mismanagement of resources in the Air force”.

The preliminary report of a team of investigators comprising Maj Martin Nsengiyunva from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Ms Rose Nabakoza and Ms Grace Apio from the police’s Crime Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) and Capt Apollo Ahimbise from the Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) of UPDAF, alleged that Maj Gen Turyagyenda, who took over as head of the Air force in May 2013, may have known about the “ghost” contract since he was one of the high ranking officers at the time.

The report, according to Monitor, named nine other people – two of them (Lt Komunda and Maj Zakama) since dead – as either having known about the ghost pilot contract or participated in creating it in one way or the other.

According to the report, one of the nine, who was a paymaster at the Air force headquarters, received Shs3.5million from the “ghost” pilot.

The money is said to have been transferred into his account in Centenary Bank on November 7, 2005.

Mirundi wonders why these people are not followed up and why it has become so urgent for Kulayigye to be quickly probed, persecuted and disposed of.

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