Nantaba, top police officers summoned over Ssebulime’s Murder

Mourners carrying a cofin containing Ssebulime’s body during his burial at Kibalinga, Mubende district

In a new twist, State Minister for Information and Communications Technology Idah Eriosi Nantaba and two senior Police commanders have been summoned to record statements in relation to Sunday’s incident, where officers executed a suspect in cold blood.

Nantaba is central in the investigations as the person who called for Police intervention, fearing for her life, a move that climaxed with the extrajudicial killing of a single father of four, Ronald Ssebulime. However, on three separate occasions, the minister has been requested to record a statement, but reportedly declined, opting to place her narrative about the incident on social media. Nantaba has, among other things, emphatically questioned the action of the Police officers to execute the suspect after he was arrested.

On Sunday, Police officers gunned down one of the two men who allegedly trailed Nantaba, causing panic and suspicion that they wanted to assassinate her as she travelled from her home in Kayunga to Kampala. Nantaba was in the company of her bodyguard, only identified as Tugume, attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC).

After the minister complained to Naggalama Police about a man on a sports bike purportedly trailing her, several Police patrols were called to pursue the suspect, who had turned off Kayunga Road and headed towards Nagojje, through a bushy muram road.

The summons The Naggalama District Police Commander, Grace Nyangoma, and her counterpart from Mukono, Rodgers Seguya, have been summoned to record statements relating to the incidents. Summons to the minister and the commanders were delivered yesterday by the Criminal Investigations Directorate’s (CID) homicide department, headed by Monday Johnson Agaba, who has been tasked with probing the matter.

Agaba said the minister and the officers were summoned to appear today at the CID headquarters in Kibuli, a city suburb. On Wednesday, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the 999 crew that was implicated in the execution had been arrested.

Minister Nantaba

The crew includes 51543 David Ssali, 50162 Ronald Opira, 5729 Geoffrey Bagonza and 62163 Robert Cherotich. Enanga said Ssali, the commander of the patrol pick-up number UP 5745, “picked Ssebulime from the pickup and shot him twice, killing him instantly.”

The officers face murder charges over the extrajudicial killing of Ssebulime. Ssebulime was a resident of Nakabugo in Wakiso district. He was laid to rest on Wednesday at Kibalinga in Mubende district. His family maintains that Ssebulime was going to visit his daughters at St. Andrew’s Kaggwa Secondary School in Kabimbiri, Mukono district.

The bag recovered by the Police from Ssebulime contained eats and drinks, which appeared to corroborate the family’s claim. However, what remains unclear is why Ssebulime passed Kabimbiri, a noticeable township with a signpost, without stopping at the school. Who ordered the execution? Homicide detectives spent several hours yesterday at Railways Grounds Police Station, where the suspects are being held, recording their statements as they recounted the events.

“The suspects have given contradictory statements,” a detective privy to the probe said.

This has necessitated the summoning of their immediate superiors. The sources say the suspects have pinned ‘‘a top Police commander’’ as the person who issued express orders for Ssebulime’s execution. The motive remains a subject of the investigations. Nagojje residents’ accounts Residents of Nagojje trading centre have given harrowing accounts of how Ssebulime was arrested, handcuffed and later shot at close range.

Residents say one of the Police officers was seen speaking on a mobile phone and immediately after, instructed his colleagues to remove Ssebulime from the patrol vehicle. He was reportedly put aside and executed in full view of the residents.

“It is true that the deceased was removed from the Police pickup and shot dead by our officer. He was shot twice,” Enanga said on Wednesday.

 He said the shooting was “a straightforward case of murder, conspiracy and professional misconduct.”

The ‘999’ emergency rescue Police officers belong to the Field Force Unit, commonly known as Mobile Police and is commanded by Senior Superintendent of Police Samuel Bamuzibire. The Nantaba assassination scare and the execution of Ssebulime have dominated debate on social media platforms. Many commentators are asking who ordered the execution, was Ssebulime a victim of circumstances and what role did Nantaba play in the tragedy.

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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.