Even before the warrant for his arrest was issued last week by the Kololo based Anti-Corruption court, Siraje Bakaleke had disappeared.
Shaken by more threats of death, the interdicted assistant commissioner of police, didn’t trust anyone — friends or even fellow police officers to keep him safe. The under firepolice officer is accused along with six others of trying to extort about Shs 1.5 billion from two South Korean nationals.
An Observer investigation has found that Bakaleke vanished recently shortly after bodyguards given to him at the urging of Deputy Inspector General Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi abandoned him.
Bakaleke was thrust into the public spotlight again recently by his very public appeal for personal security. Shortly after Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Kirumira was gunned down on the night of September 8, Bakaleke emerged a day later and told mourners at Old Kampala mosque that he believed he would be the next cop to take the assassin’s bullet.
His public appeal got the attention of his superiors and Bakaleke, according to an army officer, recently signed for a police pickup truck with five counter-terrorism, CT, guards. But his assumed sense of security was shattered a day later when the guards abandoned him after going for a day without food.
“The last time I talked to Bakaleke, he told me the police guards given to him vanished just a day after their deployment at his residence in Wakiso. They left in the evening claiming they had gone to look for food after missing the police lunch. Bakeleke told me they left the pickup truck behind, which was also taken away the following day,” an army officer known to Bakaleke said.
NEED TO CROSS-CHECK
Deputy police spokesman Patrick Onyango declined an interview to respond to the claims in this story. He said he needed to cross-check. Bakaleke got five guards. Two were supposed to move with him, two to guard his home at night and one during day.
According to the army officer, Bakaleke may have vanished for two reasons; “Bakaleke told me that a senior police colleague first told him not to allow to be guarded by counter terrorism, CT, guards because the person fighting him together with two CIID officers was once an officer in CT…he was advised to ask for guards from FFU [Field Force Unit,” the source said.
And a few days before he was supposed to report to the Anti-Corruption court to respond to the charges against him, he was reportedly told by a state prosecutor that his bail application would be opposed and he would be remanded. Bakaleke, according to the source, was told that he would be poisoned once he stepped into prison.
“…so if he is on the run, I suspect those could be the reasons,” the officer said. In panic, Bakaleke reportedly wrote to President Museveni through First Son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s office. But before he got a response, a warrant of arrest was issued. Bakaleke’s wife declined a telephone interview to speak about her husband’s whereabouts “because she’s afraid of everyone now”.
Bakaleke and others were sued in the Anti-Corruption court for kidnap, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud two Koreans; Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu who were allegedly arrested from Acacia mall in Kampala where they were due to meet their lawyer Paul Wanyoto. He denies the charges.
The warrant of arrest was issued last Friday by Grand One magistrate Moses Nabenda after state prosecutor Harriet Angom convinced court that Bakaleke was duly served on September 17 through his lawyers; Ms Robert Senfuka and Nakacwa partners but neither Bakaleke nor his lawyers appeared in court.
Bakaleke is accused alongside lawyer Paul Wanyoto Mugoya, Nabeta Samuel Mulowooza, the managing director of Eye Power Engineering Company and police officers; Robert Munezero, Innocent Nuwagaba, Robert Ray Asiimwe, Junior Amanya, Babu Gastavas and Kenneth Zirintuusa.
Bakaleke petitioned the High court to stop his prosecution until his case is fully investigated. The petition hearing was adjourned to October 11 to allow Bakaleke’s lawyer to serve the attorney general again.
“The DPP acted irrationally in consenting to the charges against the applicant; the applicant therefore seeks an order of certiorari for proceedings against him to be quashed until complete investigations are done,” says Bakaleke through his lawyers.
In an earlier interview, Bakaleke said that by the time the Koreans were arrested he was deployed by the former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura to Kigo for days and he never met any of them in the four months they spent here.
“I wonder why police did not record statements from the Koreans in the four months they were here. I never interacted with these Koreans. The DPP treating Wanyoto, a would-be suspect as a victim also indicates that he is also conniving with the CID commander,” Bakaleke lamented.
Another associate of Bakeleke, Lt Reagan Muganza, told The Observer on Saturday that Bakaleke believes he is being witch-hunted by his bosses.
“His intention to write to the president was to, among other things, have his interdiction removed just like it was done to his co-accused policemen,” Muganza said.
In one of the counts, prosecution contends that Bakaleke, and others, between February 11, 2018 in Kampala, conspired to kidnap or abduct one Ha Dongsub with the intent of causing him to be secretly and wrongfully confined. It is also alleged that they conspired to kidnap or abduct him. The South Koreans were arrested from Acacia mall in Kampala; where they were due to meet their lawyer Wanyoto.
It is alleged that the deployment had been sanctioned by Bakaleke after a tipoff from the lawyer who claimed that two of his clients were involved in dubious activities. Bakaleke says the allegations are wild and unfounded.