Crime

INSIDE STORY: Behind Bagyenda Kaka’s Sacking

The Internal Security Organization (ISO) boss, Frank Kaka Bagyenda, was yesterday sacked by the appointing authority.

A source at ISO  who preferred anonymity said they have been notified that Kaka is no longer ISO director.

“You know it’s the minister of security supposed to speak to you the media. He’s currently not around but I can confirm to you he has been replaced,” the senior official said. 

Kaka has reportedly been replaced with Charles Oluka who will be assisted by Emma Katabaazi. An operative at ISO headquarters in Nakasero said Kaka received the message of his sacking after meeting some of his field team a few minutes past 6 pm.

“I had just met him at the office and he was planning to go home. But he was just notified by a senior security officer,” the ISO source said.

Kaka and his operatives have often been accused of doctoring intelligence reports about criminals, political groupings and crossborder security alerts.

Besides, Kaka has been on the spot over kidnapping, detaining and torturing of suspects in safe houses located in Kalangala district. Kaka has also been severally accused of filing false intelligence reports and turning ISO into a rogue organisation. 

Background

In a look at Bagyenda’s three years as head of ISO, allegations of torture, human rights abuses, arbitrary arrests and internal fights among ISO agents have taken precedence, putting the country’s security at risk.

Before his appointment in 2017 to take over from Brig Ronnie Balya, Col Kaka had been a businessman running several hotels across the country.

When he took over intelligence in 2017, he was seen as the saviour and was credited for doing reconnaissance and gathering intelligence that helped thwart internal rebellion in the army and government.

However, his honeymoon was soon over as most of the so-called intelligence turned out to be false. Multiple sources say ISO has authored some controversial reports that accused some big military big shots of working against President Museveni. Some of these reports, sources said, have been found fake. For instance, Kaka’s most trusted operative, Simon Peter Odongo, who was the head of ISO’s ICT Department, was accused of framing the former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura on the killing of Andrew Felix Kaweesi. The joint security investigation into the death of Kaweesi found out that the information that ISO shared about Gen Kayihura was false.

ISO operatives were accused of carrying out human right abuse including arbitrary arrests of people and detaining them at an island in Lake Victoria for months. In 2019, lawyers under their umbrella body, the Uganda Law Society (ULS) accused Kaka of arresting, detaining and torturing citizens and usurping the powers of other security agencies and acting outside the law.

During a media conference, then ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe said Kaka had taken over the role of other security agencies and turned ISO into a clearing agency for wealthy individuals to the detriment of regular citizens.

The raid by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) on several ISO safe houses in Kampala in July surprised many but also signalled that Kaka had a big fight for survival on his hands with higher forces probably fed up or rattled by his methods of work.

In July 2020, personnel from Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence raided several safe houses in the city centre where ISO detained suspects and arrested the guards before taking away people detained in the houses.

The raid came after President Museveni summoned ISO director general Col Kaka Bagyenda for a meeting at State House. Col Kaka later failed to come to office the following day, sparking speculation that he had been fired. At the time of the raid, there had been tension at ISO headquarters after more than 100 operatives, including 10 directors, were suspended.

It is these circumstances that have been at ISO until Thursday’s sacking.

About Kaka

In 1981, Bagyenda joined the National Resistance Army (NRA), a rebel guerrilla outfit, led by Yoweri Museveni, who waged the Ugandan Bush War, between 1981 and 1986.

He carried out covert operations for the NRA and was instrumental in the capture of Masindi Army Barracks by the NRA on 20 February 1984. To disguise himself from the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) soldiers, he adopted the name Kaka, dropping his birth names Frank Bagyenda. He served in the Ugandan military, rising to the rank of Major, before he retired at that rank in 1993.

Bagyenda remained an active intelligence operative, playing a role in the disruption of illegal fishing on Lake Victoria. In 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, while in retirement.

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