Govt retires over 100 ISO intelligence officers

ISO boss Col Kaka Bagyenda

Over 100 long-serving intelligence officers belonging to the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) are set to be retired at the end of this month. According to reliable sources, the officers, who include long-serving and experienced ISO spies, are to be retired formally, following the incorporation of the organization into the civil service pension scheme structure.

Sources said many of the affected officers had reached retirement age but had remained in service because the issue of their pension had not been streamlined. ISO director general Col. Frank Kaka Bagyenda could neither confirm nor deny the reports of the retirement of the organization’s veteran spies.

Bagyenda instead wondered whether people retiring was a big story worth writing about in the New Vision. But, other sources say the retirement of a big number of veteran spies has been a matter under consideration for some time now.

They said the level of education was one of the factors considered for retiring officers. ISO, according to the sources, plans to carry out the fresh recruitment of well-educated personnel as part of its drive to professionalize the agency. Sources said the officers are to retire before the close of the 2018/19 financial year, next week.

Early this year, Bagyenda carried out a massive shake-up of the organization, which affected the top echelon of the local intelligence agency. Many directors and deputy directors were transferred or reassigned.

According to New Vision reports in March this year, Bagyenda said mafia had infiltrated the Police, security agencies, including ISO, the judiciary and other government agencies. He said he was working to clean up the country. President Yoweri Museveni appointed Bagyenda as director general of ISO in January 2017, replacing Brig. Ronnie Barya.

Bagyenda, who at the time of his appointment was in retirement, had previously served in a similar field during the National Resistance Army bush war from 1981 to 1986. He was, therefore, well-grounded in intelligence.

ISO, with its headquarters at Nakasero in Kampala, has hundreds of intelligence officers spread countrywide, right from the parish level. There are regional, district, Gombolola and parish internal security officers. ISO is established under Article 218 of the Constitution, which gives powers to enact laws regulating intelligence services.

ISO is the government’s counterintelligence agency, responsible for providing national security intelligence to Uganda’s policymakers. ISO monitors government programs that are critical to the well-being of the state, in addition to collecting intelligence on locally based groups engaging in or intending to engage in acts that subvert, sabotage or destabilize the country.

Lately, ISO has broadened its operations, to include conducting investigations into high profile cases, such as the assassination of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi, in 2017. Over 1,000 ISO officers were retrenched in 1993 without being paid terminal benefits, which resulted in a protracted legal case.

Five hundred of the retrenched officers sued the Government, which subsequently agreed to pay sh39.18b to the former spies. But, the payment of the terminal benefits was marred by alleged fraud, which prompted investigations by the Inspector General of Government. The initial sh10b was disbursed to the Uganda Veterans of Internal Security Organisation (UVETISO).

However, a bigger part of the money ended up with the law firm that represented the former spies. The development prompted some of the former ISO staff to petition the Attorney General, IGG, ISO and the office of the Minister for the Presidency, seeking their intervention

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Patrick Luwagga is the editorial director of cross-platform content for UGANDANZ. He works across the newsroom and with business partners to drive and develop ambitious editorial projects that include digital journalism, video, data research, polling, live events, and thought-leadership series that are supported by outside underwriting. As executive director, he is responsible for the creation of Political news section, prior to joining UGANDANZ, Patrick was the chief editor for the national weekly news magazine of Kasese Times. In that role, he covered several presidential elections, wrote and produced two television documentaries, and was a regular commentator on television and radio news programs. Patrick was born in Masaka and grew up in Kasese. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Makerere University where he was a Knight Foundation journalism fellow.