While many Ugandans believe that police gruesome torture of Kamwenge town council mayor, Geoffrey Byamukama, was an act of dedication to service, a new investigation has revealed that these cops were after the mayor’s Shs36bn accrued from the sale of the most prized mineral-mercury.
Mercury, according to Wikipedia, is a chemical element commonly known as quicksilver. Mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices.
Mercury is also used for dental restoration in some locales and fluorescent lighting. Electricity passed through mercury vapour in a fluorescent lamp produces short-wave ultraviolet light which then causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce, making visible light.
Byamukama was specifically dealing in red mercury purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems.
Cops wanted Byamukama’s cash
Byamukama’s troubles stemmed from the sale this prized mineral to unnamed foreigners, which left his bank account swelling with a mouth-watering Shs36bn, according to sources close to the former soldier.
“By the time of his arrest, Byamukama had Shs100m on him,” the source said.
Apparently, the mayor’s predicament was not a result of security tracing the money on his account but a set up by one of his associates who was dissatisfied with the way money from this deal was split.
We also learnt that the mayor had a special but secret office at Johnson Street near Pioneer Mall in the heart of Kampala city, designed specifically for such lucrative deals.
The office, according to the source, was being managed by a Lugbara woman, highly trusted by Byamukama.
The dissatisfied associate is said to have tipped two dirty cops from the police’s flying squad and special operations unit identified as ASP Fred Tumuhirwe and Constable Ronnie Byenkya who on April 5 cornered Byamukama at ministry of Lands office along Parliament Avenue.
Other two cops; Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Patrick Munanura and Sgt Tumukunde, were among other muscular men waiting in a waiting the infamous police van that rushed Byamukama to the notorious Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja District where they exercised rough justice on him.
“When they dropped me into their van, the beatings started. They told me that to save my life, I had to confess that I participated in the killing of Kaweesi which I refused,” Byamukama told The Observer.
At Nalufenya, he was tortured to near death. He further told the newspaper: “When I went into comma [after the beating], they rushed me to a hospital in Jinja where the management refused to admit me because I was half dead.”
As we gathered, the torture was meant to push Byamukama to breaking point so he could allow them lay hands on his money even if it meant killing him in the process.
The plan would work best if they accused Byamukama of involvement in the murder of former police chief AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi and the torture would like they wanted a confession that would lead to the cracking of the mysterious case.
Byamukama, according to multiple sources, has been dealing in these rare minerals with foreigners for a long time now.
Those who have landed such deals together with him accuse the mayor of untrustworthiness, saying he can easily turn on anyone for the sake of money.
This time round, he did not get away with it as he usually does.
Byamukama’s dirty dealings
In order to carry out his dirty dealings without questions, the mayor is said to have started a company housed in his Johnson Street office claiming to find Ugandans employment abroad.
“He managed to con atleast 100 people from Kamwenge with each paying between Shs3m to Shs5m,” the source said.
He is further accused of grabbing land in Kamwenge town Council along Nkongoro road, opposite town Council grounds, the plot housing Maranatha health Centre in Kamwenge town, Kanyegaramire playground, among others.
Other unconfirmed reports say he conned politicians including a once LC3 chairperson, Abas Mutesasira, atleast Shs100m in 2013.
In the same year, the then Kamwenge Residence District Commissioner [RDC], Silvia Akello Opio, intercepted a town council vehicle carrying stolen railway slippers, only to discover Byamukama’s hand in the saga.
It was at that time that the Rwenzori anti-corruption coalition petitioned the minister of Ethics and integrity, Simon Lokodo, to have Byamukama arrested.
But alas, the “Commander” has already gone into hiding. When he resurfaced, the “Commander” ploughed into more dirty activities.
These include: alleged conning of one Robert Shs11m, accepting an alleged bribe of Shs18m to stand down from NRM chairman Kamwenge district for current Information and ICT minister, Hon Frank Tumwebaze and giving away former Kitagwenda MP Hon Nulu Byamukama’s land to business people.
There is also a report that he lost a son who was serving in the UPDF Somalia contingent upon which he received Shs80m compensation.
Byamukama’s military and political connections
Byamukama has an extensive military background is famed for keeping Kamwenge district free from the Allied Democratic Force [ADF] rebel scourge in early 2000s.
Save for waving off insurgents, Byamukama remained relevant by recruiting government informants on behalf of spy organs like Internal Security Organisation [ISO], External Security Organisation [ESO] and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence [CMI].
According to one of his close friends, Byamukama was born and raised in Kamwenge town Council in Kamwenge district and is believed to had stopped in primary seven.
During President Milton Obote 1’s time, Byamukama worked as a security guard at Kamwenge sub county headquarters.
He then became a Local Defence Unit guard [LDU] during President Yoweri Museveni’s takeover.
In Kamwenge, he is commonly known as “Commander Geoffrey”, a reputation he earned from neutralising thieves in the township as an LDU security unit soldier.
Yet, he is also accused of rigging votes during elections for the ruling National Resistance Movement [NRM] government as well as terrorising locals around R. Mpanga area.
Those who know him better say Byamukama was instrumental in harassing and torturing opposition supporters especially those of Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] strong man, Dr Kizza Besigye, during the infamous 2001 elections.
He was reportedly working with the Member of Parliament for Kibale County, Charles Byaruhanga, and his bodyguard, Kasim Katongole.
As if to appreciate his services in rigging votes for President Yoweri Museveni, Byamukama was elected NRM chairman Kamwenge district up to 2016 when was elected as Mayor Kamwenge town Council a position.
Byamukama was later voted the LC3 chairman Kamwenge Sub County, reportedly to stop him from stealing from locals and give him an opportunity to “eat” government money.
Other sources say he just arrested his opponent, Jackson Mwesigye, and won the election unopposed.
Additional background information by PerilOfAfrica.com