By Alex Muhumuza
Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) has this Thursday launched an attack against the Internal Security Organization (ISO), with CMI agents conducting what eyewitnesses described as violent searches of ISO facilities, including safe houses in Kyengera and Kisaasi. According to a number of security observers in Kampala that Virunga Post talked to, this high profile hit by CMI on another powerful intelligence agency is the culmination of “back scenes” maneuverings by CMI boss Abel Kandiho, who for a long time has been plotting against his ISO counterpart Kaka Bagyenda.
“Primarily, Kandiho has long resented Bagyenda ‘as a historical that goes way back to the NRA first days’, but also as a rival for the enormous, classified intelligence budgets,” a highly placed source told this website.
According to a number of informed sources, including Kampala’s Daily Monitor newspaper, Bagyenda did not appear in his office the whole of Thursday – with family members terrified that “Mzee Bagyenda already was under interrogation in the CMI dungeons run by Kandiho.”
The CMI raid, described as a “commando-style hit” on ISO safe houses, culminated into the arrests of all ISO agents on the scene, after which the CMI operatives went for Bagyenda. “The ambitious Kandiho has just conducted a successful ‘backstabbing move’ that he has been planning for a long time,” said one of our sources in the Ugandan capital. Watchers of Uganda’s security organs have for a long time been aware that Gen. Salim Saleh, the brother of President Museveni, favors Kandiho in everything.
Kandiho who has been described as “a former errand boy” for Saleh on the other hand has distinguished himself – “far more than anyone else” according to observers – in the campaign of harassment and persecution of Rwandan nationals in Uganda following the years when Kampala adopted a policy of hostility against Rwanda.
“That, and working in a very dedicated way with RNC, the main Kampala-backed group bent on destabilizing the security of Rwanda, has made Kandiho the darling of the Ugandan president and his brother,” watchers of security trends say.
The Daily Monitor of yesterday, Friday 10, reported that this week alone Bagyenda was summoned to the office of Museveni at least on two occasions. According to the report, Museveni accused Bagyenda of “torturing people in safe houses.”
This accusation, however, according to analysts, had all the signs that the president was providing justification for Bagyenda’s arrest. “Of course if one were looking for the biggest torturer of people in this country, CMI and its head Kandiho are second to none! One can even say they double ISO!” laughed a source. “But whom did Museveni promote recently? It is Kandiho; he became a Major General. That alone showed Bagyenda’s days were numbered,” our source pointed out.
Others think the first sign that Kaka was in deep trouble came last year in September when journalist Andrew Mwenda, who is a well-known Uganda State House Operative, went on a radio talk show to declare: “I shall expose ISO boss Bagyenda because he is running safe houses in Kyengera, and in an island in Victoria where they torture hundreds of people!”
Bagyenda should have seen the writing on the wall there and then, according to observers.
“Mwenda only says such things as an agent of State House, or of the interests of those that are big State House insiders,” said a senior journalist with a Kampala media house, adding: “it is a sign of the moral bankruptcy we’ve descended into to see the accusations against ISO of torture, then to see CMI being the one to take action, yet CMI is the biggest culprit when it comes to torturing people!”
CMI in Kampala is so feared that old men swear it is in the same category as Idi Amin’s State Research Bureau. “ISO is nowhere near that category,” one elderly gentleman swore. In fact CMI has such a reputation for torture that even Boda Boda cyclists cannot accept to ride anywhere near its headquarters at Mbuya Military Barracks.
In one incident last year, CMI operatives in civilian clothes brutally beat one Yusuf Kawooya with gun butts, kicks and fisticuffs in full public view as he cried and pleaded for his life. One shocked person that saw the video wondered: “if these (CMI) fellows can almost kill a man on the street, what do they do to people when no one is looking?!”
From the time Mwenda denounced Kaka, things have been going down hill for the ISO chief since then.
Kandiho has mounted a sustained media campaign, most notably through the Facebook page of one Titus Seruga, long exposed as a CMI agent though he is based in Brussels, Belgium. Seruga – who has cultivated a persona as an agenda-driven individual that will not hesitate to post anything as long as it fulfills that agenda – has been after Kaka for some time.
“Bagyenda is a traitor against Uganda!” Seruga claimed at one time.
“Kaka and ISO’s days are numbered!” CMI’s man in Brussels said recently.
“Being on the payroll of CMI, Seruga publishes absolutely any misinformation that his bosses cook up against ISO and Bagyenda,” said our Kampala media source, adding: “it is a very dirty game Kandiho has been waging against a historical like Bagyenda, but he has Saleh in his corner, so he fears nothing!”
CMI escalated matters two months ago when it arrested one of ISO’s senior operatives, Simon Peter Odong, on the allegation that he was “attempting to interfere with a UPDF-led operation.”
“Anyway”, people have been remarking: “Bagyenda himself has been doing a lot of dirty things, and it is now his turn to get a dose of what Museveni does to people.”
“Just wait, Kandiho’s turn will also come,” laughed a social media commenter.