Police has linked at least eight suspects in attempted murder of works and transport minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala and the double murder of the government official’s daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Haruna Kayondo to a total of 14 killings.
After the June 01 shooting in Kisaasi, deputy police chief Maj Gen Paul Lokech worked with the joint security team that consisted of officers from Police, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Crime Intelligence and Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT) to hunt for the assassins.
Maj Gen Lokech, a man who previously commanded operations in wartorn Somalia, was the supervisor of the joint operation.
Barely a year into the job as deputy IGP, Lokech replaced Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeeyi at the close of last year.
Maj Gen Muzeeyi had taken over from Martins Okoth Ochola who was elevated to the position of IGP following the sacking of Gen Kale Kayihura, who had led police for over a decade.
While Kayihura failed to crack down on the masterminds of the assassinations in a long time, Lokech seems to be close to dismantling the gang behind the murders.
On July 13, the deputy police chief announced police had arrested its 12th suspect in the Katumba Wamala shooting.
Identified as Huzaifa Wampa aka Kanaabe, the suspect is believed to have used a gun to rain bullets into the left side of the minister’s vehicle.
He was reportedly shooting while being ridden on a Bodaboda motorcycle by alleged fellow gang member Kamada Walusimbi aka Mudinka.
Mudinka Walusimbi was last week remanded alongside four other suspects: Muhammad Kagugube alias Musiramu/Mugisha/Mbavumoja, a boda boda rider and a resident of Kikaaya zone in Kawempe division; Siriman Ayuub Kisambira alias Mukwasi Koja, a resident of Kabaganda village in Kasangati town council; Abdulaziz Ramathan Dunku, a tailor/car seat repairer, resident of Matugga; and Habib Marjan, a religious teacher.
Added onto earlier arrested suspects – Sheik Yusuf Siraji Nyanzi and Hussein Sserubula alias Imam Muto – currently on remand, the number of arrested suspects is now eight.
Four of their accomplices are now deceased after they were ‘put out of action’ during security raids on terror cells.
The dead are: Hussein Lubwama alias Master, Mustafa Ramadan Kawawa alias Amin, Idri Juma Sserwadda and Juma Saidi.
Wampa Kanaabe, the latest suspect to be arrested, was picked from a hideout near Kalule trading centre, in Luwero district on July 12.
Wampa is a member of the Bodaboda 2010, according to police.
Bodaboda 2010 was headed by Abdallah Kitata, a man so close to Kayihura, and whose group was severally accused of extortion, torture and harassment of non-members.
“An immediate thorough search was conducted at his known premises, and the motorcycle Bajaj Boxer, red in colour, registration number UEO 375, which was used during the attack was recovered. Other relevant exhibits recovered include a hoodie that he used to cover his head, an assortment of jackets, gloves, and warm suits,” said Lokech in a statement.
He then claimed Wampa Kanaabe had confessed to taking part in at least 14 murders
These include: the murder of Maj Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sgt Stephen Mukasa on November 26, 2016, at Masanafu trading centre in Lubaga division: the assassination of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi alongside his bodyguard Cpl Kenneth Erau and driver Cpl Godfrey Mambewa on March 17, 2017; the murder of SPC Hussein Mubiru and SPC Moses Karungi on September 18, 2017, at Kalerwe market; and the murder of Frank Anania, Amim Bugembe, Jimmy Atukuru and Frank Abaho during the robbery at Nansana Cheap General Hardware shop in Nansana on May 29, 2019.
With Lokech and his taskforce now hunting for the overall coordinator of domestic terror cells Abu Ubaida Badir Diin Bukenya, there is hope that the issue of assassinations could have been dealt a blow.
However, the challenge would be if these are ‘wrong suspects’ tortured to make confessions.
The other problem would be if there are terror cells police is yet to learn of, later on dismantle.
For now, Lokech seems to be doing a commendable job, but on whether he will succeed where Kayihura failed, only time will tell.