The family of a mobiliser for Ugandan opposition party -National Unity Platform ( NUP) is worried after their sole breadwinner went missing, allegedly, after weeks of anxiety with unknown people on his trail.
It is alleged that a one Godfrey Kayitarama, a vocal critic of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) was also subjected to acts of torture by security agents while in detention, before he left his young family and went missing a month ago.
Once a staunch supporter of the ruling NRM party, reports indicate that the genesis of Kayitarama’s troubles is when he started criticizing the leadership in Kampala most especially on rampant corruption involving senior Government officials and the deteriorating Human Rights record with security forces implicated in acts of torture, intimidation and murder of citizens.
The young family of Four which lives in Bulindo, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, has for weeks been searching for their father, family head and provider but in vain. In an interview with our reporter, his brother Bylon Ayesigyeruhanga said family members last heard from Kayitarama about for weeks ago and they are now worried about his life.
“Not even his known phone number is going through. We have searched in different locations including security detention centers but in vain. We are extremely worried” Ayesigyeruhanga said.
He said ever since Kayitarama joined the opposition NUP about a year and a half ago, he has endured intimidation, arrests and witch-hunt by security agencies in Uganda, severally ending up in illegal detentions where he has been subjected to different forms of human rights violations. After weeks of searching, he notes that they (family) cannot rule out a possibility that Kayitarama could have fled the country fearing for the worst on his life.
From one extreme end of politics to another
This paper was able to confirm that Mr. Godfrey Kayitarama joined the opposition NUP during its normative stages and holds a party card no 328786. He is among those people who undertook mobilization activities for NUP at local level and gave headache to NRM candidates in Kira during the chaotic 2021 elections.
Following the security swoops that started during campaigns, the bloody elections and after elections, Kayitarama was targeted alongside hundreds of NUP supporters who were arrested en masse and incarcerated in different detention centers across the country. Up to today, records indicate that more than 45 NUP supporters are still held in detention pending trial in the court martial while the whereabouts of several others remain unknown.
Unlike many NUP supporters who have been victims of kidnaps, Kayitarama received summons but over what his family insist are tramped-up charges. He has been in and out of police cells sometimes having to pay heavily before he is released on bond, only to be arrested after a short while. When our reporter reached out to his wife (names withheld) she expressed fear that her husband’s disappearance is related to his political inclination. She also confirmed that they had reported a case of disappearance at Kira Police Station under Reference number: 50/15/06/022, and that she is currently following up the investigations to find her missing husband.
Moses Oijuke, a close friend of Mr Kayitarama, re-affirmed that his friend had been missing since beginning of June 2022 and all his known telephone numbers were off. He was not sure whether Police had arrested him again or not because he had stood surety for him some months ago at Kira Division Police, Kira Municipality.
Nowhere to run: not even to his family
Surprisingly, Moses claimed that before Kayitarama disappeared, he had disclosed to him that security agencies had connived with his wife to arrest him but by sheer luck, he escaped the arrest. Before the two lost contact, Oijukye says his friend had to seek shelter in different locations other than his home for fear of arrest. On calling his wife to confirm whether his husband intimated on plans to flee the country, she could not deny nor confirm this suspicion.
However, when we visited Kira Division Police, we were able to get two copies of arrest warrants issued to Kayitarama on April 28,2022 and June 29, 2022 on charges of “Doing a rush or neglect act contrary to Section 228(d) of the Penal Code Act. The Police officer (who preferred to remain anonymous) could not explain what the arrest warrants were for! But he confirmed that indeed they were looking for Kayitarama to answer the charges preferred against him!
Kayitarama, a political activist had over the years used airwaves to praise the ruling government until it dawned on him that speaking against the same government was a terrible sin. His family narrates that he started fearing for his life when unknown people kept trailing him and he would receive threatening telephone calls from unknown people whom he suspect were state operatives. He reportedly had to switch vehicles and avoid certain places for fear of being either kidnapped or hurt. The witch-hunt turned into a disaster when his own wife joined his tormentors during his trial on what his brother refers to as tramped-up charges.
The Glory days of supporting the ruling National Resistance Movement
Kayitarama started as a National Resistance Movement Youth wing mobiliser at Old Kampala senior Secondly school in early 90’s, he continued mobilizing for his party even when it became a full political party in Kira Municipality, an area known to be hostile to his party until 2020 when the birth of NUP took effect! Kira Municipality in Wakiso District is known to be anti-NRM for many years and during last year General Elections, National Resistance Movement party trailed in all elective positions to NUP candidates save for Kira Municipality Member of Parliament, Hon Ibrahim Semujju Nganda who also subscribes to opposition FDC party.
He drummed up support for the NRM on “Bimeezas” open-air live radio broadcasts and on Radios like Alpha FM/Impact FM in Ndeeba, Star FM and Radio 2 Akaboozi, during the days when Rt. Hon John Patrick Amama Mbabazi was still Secretary General of the ruling party.
In his Facebook messages posted on his status several years ago, he reminisced on-air clashes with Democratic Party diehards (then) Church Ambrose Bukenya, Hon. Ken Lukyamuzi of Conservative Party, Dr. Lulume Bayiga and others. However, when Amama was replaced by Kasule Lumumba and later lost a presidential bid in 2016, Kayitarama took a sabatical leave from politics until 2018 when Robert Kyagulanyi with the People Power movement stormed Uganda’s political stage.