UGANDA: How the fake arms deal with Poland became public
First published by Change of Guards blog on November 17, 2016
In May, 2015, a clique of Uganda ‘mafias’ set off to play their usual money games. This time around they zeroed in on a Polish arms company, BPM Poland. Masquerading as top army officers of the Museveni army, they sought to buy a big consignment of assorted military equipment from the same company. Such equipment included armor for battle tanks, light armored cars for reconnaissance, Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and self propelled artillery pieces.
After a series of communications, in October 2015 BMP Poland officials traveled to Uganda and met the said ‘mafias’ at the tightly guarded army headquarters boardroom from where a Euro 15.5m contract was signed with the BPM’s Board Chairman. One of the Mafia agents, Sam Simbwa who is highly connected even took a group photo with the Polish contractors while flashing the contract document.
Shortly after, the mafias originated a document purported to instruct the Treasury to transfer a sum of Euro 15,530,000m to the said contractor. Convinced by this letter, the contractors wired a sum of Euro 528,000 as demanded by the mafias purportedly for processing the necessary paper work.
The contractor sent this money to the mafias in Kampala using their company Prima Investments Ltd.’s account in Equity Bank which had issued the security bond. The said money was withdrawn from Equity Bank on the same day it was wired and since that time the mafias cut off all communication with the contractor.
As is always the norm for countries to monitor the arms strength of their neighbours, a neighboring country picked information about Uganda’s intentions to procure such a large consignment of military equipment. Upon follow-up, it discovered that the said procurement was fake and decided to share the information with Museveni’s Police chief, Gen. Kalekyezi.
Kalekyezi briefed Museveni about the matter and the latter gave a go-ahead to carry out an inquiry by incorporating the services of Military Intelligence (CMI). It is at this stage that Gen. Kalekyezi incorporated the services of Col. Herbert Mbonye, the Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence who also hails from his home area of Kisoro. The Military Intelligence Chief, Brig, Bakahumura is a Gen. Tumukunde loyalist thus does not fit into Kalekyezi’s designs to fix ‘his people’ in strategic security positions.
Col. Mbonye joined the army around 1987/88 and upon completing his basic military training at Kabamba, he was recruited into Military Intelligence by Rwanda’s Gen. Jack Nziiza who is a cousin to Kalekyezi and rose to become a Division and Assistant Director of Counter Intelligence before he was displaced by Gen. Tumukunde as CMI in an effort to weed out those perceived to have links with Rwanda during that time when relations were bad but only bounced back recently. Therefore, in terms of seniority, Col. Mbonye is more senior to Brig. Bakahumura who was only brought to CMI by Gen. Tumukunde as a junior officer.
Col. Mbonye incorporated Capt. Joshua Karamagi of CMI’s Special Investigations Bureau (who privately trained in Criminal Investigations in London) into the investigations team. As investigations progressed, Sam Simbwa was arrested but Brig. Kyanda ordered for his release from the Police’s SIU on grounds that he was scheduled to travel abroad for special operations.
The investigations also linked Brig. Kyanda to Sam Simbwa during the signing of the said fake contract. It concluded that it could have only been with the help of a very senior army officer of Brig. Kyanda’s calibre that such a high profile scam could be conducted from the army headquarters’ boardroom. The report was submitted to Museveni amidst rumors that he was planning to appoint the same Brig. Kyanda as police chief to replace Gen. Kalekyezi. It was also feared that owing to Brig. Kyanda’s closeness to Museveni, he may not take action against him.
It is for these reasons that a scheme was hacked to exert pressure by leaking the information to the public. Chimpreports, an online news outlet that is very close to both the Kampala and Kigali regimes won the tender and not only broke the news but has since then exclusively profiled the developments pertaining to this saga.
Given the magnitude of the negative impact of this scandal at both local and international levels, the army is all out to do a cover-up. It has come up with a statement denying the existence of the Col. Mbonye investigations, de-linking his posting to AMISOM from this saga, and disassociating Gen. Saleh with Capt. Muhoozi. Interestingly, it confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation in that respect whereby Sam Simbwa and a one Captain Muhoozi an Aide to Museveni’s brother, Gen. Saleh had been arrested.
Unless Chimpreports is threatened to back off, it will keep receiving updates from interested parties over manœuvres to twist the facts of the saga and will keep the public updated. However, it is most likely that the deal may have initially been genuine and on behalf of one of the parties in armed conflicts in the region but was abandoned at the last hour. It is also worthy noting that it came to light around the time Gen. Oketta died abruptly.
INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO.