By Robert Rutoma
Deo Nyirigira can’t seem to be out of the news, except that for this alleged “man of God” it is always for the wrong reasons.
When news broke that Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) had arrested 32 members of a group that was mobilizing and recruiting for a new anti-Rwanda terror network, it came as little surprise to many local observers; especially those that have long become accustomed to the dubious character of the Ugandan leadership. It would soon emerge that the 32 were members of a new group that the notorious Mbarara-based “Pastor” Deo Nyiligira is working with.
(When CMI found out the 32 were working with Nyirigira and Sam Ruvuma, a cousin of Museveni’s, in a new anti-Rwanda terror outfit, plans were made to bring very light charges against them, of “violating Covid-19 guidelines).
Nyirigira is no longer serving his long time boss in RNC Kayumba Nyamwasa. Instead, he is recruiting for a new terror network, the Rwanda Alliance for Change (RAC) led by Jean-Paul Turayishimye, the former “head of intelligence” of RNC (and also a former escort of Nyamwasa whom he is now fighting). Nyirigira, who for long has been the bane of innocent Rwandans in the western region of Uganda – many whom he has betrayed to CMI on a variety of concocted charges – and others have turned their back on Nyamwasa.
“It is a clash of greedy, self-serving characters really, and Nyirigira has always been one of the greediest, most self-serving of all,” said a close observer of RNC. “It is known that Nyirigira is now accusing Nyamwasa of having ‘lured his daughter Jackie into RNC activities without informing him; but who is Nyirigira really fooling? He knew all the time that she was involved in terrorism, but did nothing to stop her. Why wait when she is arrested to try to pretend ‘she was lured!’”
That is Nyirigira, a long-time liar, but it is the same with all these RNC characters!, our source remarked. “Whether some of them have formed a new group, RAC, the outcome will be the same – chaos, betrayal, greed, disorganization!”
But Nyirigira is very calculative, and always has been. “One can’t be surprised if he and Turayishimye are now directly targeting Museveni’s favors – most especially as it seems clear Museveni has no problem with RAC, but rather trying to find ways ‘to reconcile them with Nyamwasa’.”
Nyirigira has always been a man of big, greed-fueled ambitions combined with a very unscrupulous, “even criminal dispositions”, as was shown for instance when he ran away to Uganda after embezzling millions of francs from adherents of his AGAPE Church in Rwanda in 2000. Before then, in the 90s, Nyirigira had harbored “very big expectations of what he would get out of Rwanda,” a former acquaintance of his told Virunga Post.
Except that his expectations were “over-exaggerated” and not in tandem with his meager contribution to the RPF struggle, which in fact had been characterized by dishonesty and lack of integrity.
While the RPF struggle was mostly about sacrifice for the cause, with some Rwandans paying the ultimate price, Deo Nyiligira was preoccupied with self-preservation. He for instance one time out-rightly rebelled when asked to undertake missions that he deemed “too risky”. He instead requested to manage financial resources.
It turned out his intentions were to steal even the contributed by patriotic-minded Rwandans to keep the struggle buoyant. In other words, while other cadres put their lives on the line, Nyiligira was busy stealing from the cause, to the extent he even stole goats that Rwandans in villages were contributing to the struggle!
But when liberation was achieved the shameless Nyirigira did not only expect a place at the High Table, he literally demanded to be accorded preferential treatment.
However, in the process of building a transformative establishment, the RPF had to undertake meticulous evaluations and assessments of its cadres. As it emerged, Deo Nyiligira lacked the minimum threshold of integrity and competence to be part of the new leadership at the highest level, as he demanded. His transgressions were well-known, but the RPF leadership wasn’t intent on pursuing past petty crimes. It was pre-occupied with much weightier issues. But it wasn’t ready to bring a known crook into high leadership.
That is when Nyirigira decided to anoint himself a ‘pastor’ and venture into church business. There with his predilections for a high life of luxuries, his habit of embezzlement would resurrect. He “ate” members’ money, and members became increasingly unhappy. When the centre could no longer hold after tumultuous episodes in the Nyamirambo-based church, Nyirigira fled to Mbarara, Uganda.
There had been deafening cries of “enough is enough” as church members were demanding accountability, banks were knocking to collect overdue loans, while others were calling for the intervention of law enforcement.
Nyirigira calculated well in one thing, however: that subversive activities against Rwanda would always be welcome by the Museveni regime. “Welcome of course, but no plots to destabilize Rwanda will ever succeed; so let Nyirigira go on deceiving his Uganda regime hosts, and ‘eating’ their money,” smiled a reader in Kigali.