- Chilling account. Gerald Yashaba, 49, a resident of Bukasa, Katongole Zone, Kampala and an accountant with Lamba Enterprises Ltd, was kidnapped by men travelling in a white Mark II and a Green Ipsum.
- He had just dropped off his children at Silver Spoon Nursery School in Kibuli, Kampala, on Monday. He narrated his day-long ordeal to Sunday Monitor’s Tom Malaba.
KAMPALA. At the petrol station (Total filling station in Kibuli), a white Mark II car blocked me as I waited for the pump attendant to fuel my car.
At that moment, another person walked over from behind and banged on the Mark II car, claiming it had knocked him, but those in the car did not respond to him. The man limped back past his car.
Shortly after, another man in plain clothes, claiming to be a policeman, walked over to my car, flashed his card and said I was under arrest.
I asked why he was arresting me yet I was not the one who had knocked the person who had limped off. They were soon joined by the group in the white Mark II car and they yanked me out of my car.
Soon a crowd gathered and others tried to intervene, but they were told that I had participated in the killing of Joan Kagezi (a former Principal State Attorney who was gunned down in March 2015.
Upon hearing that I had participated in the killing of Kagezi, even those who tried to stop my arrest joined to help my captors bundle me into the back seat of my car with one KK guard at the station threatening to shoot me.
The petrol station manager helped to move my car from where it was parked to another place as an Assistant Inspector of Police (AIP), also emerged from the Mark II car with an AK-47 rifle.
The petrol station manager then handed the keys to Sure Deal, a known special hire driver, who then drove off my car to Kabalagala Police Station.
Inside, on the back seat, three men sat on me as I was driven to Kabalagala Police Station. I was then ushered into one of the offices where I found three men; not in uniform. My captors then said: “Afande (boss), this is the suspect.”
Demanding to make a statement
I demanded to make a statement, but the officers just laughed at me as my captors pulled me out of the offices back into my car and sat on me again as they drove off towards Nsambya.
At Shell Kabalagala, they told me I had lots of money, which I was given to keep by Mr Christopher Obey (the embattled Ministry of Public Service official in Luzira for embezzlement Obey is a co-director with Yashaba in Lamba Enterprises Ltd, where he also doubles as an accountant.
They claimed Obey had left me with four sacks of dollars. I told them if they thought I had the money , they should drive home and do a search. But one of them advised the rest to instead drive to Centenary Park (on Jinja Road) and plan.
In the car were five captors; the three who were sitting on me, plus the driver and the co-driver as the occupants of the Mark II car closely followed.
Near the American Embassy in Nsambya, the captors searched me and took my wallet, Shs3m, office keys, home keys and two phones that I carried.
At about 8:30am, we arrived at Centenary Park and parked next to Lady Charlotte’s building.
They then walked me to a restaurant from where they kept moving me from one restaurant to another. They ordered me to call someone to bring $100,000 but I told them I do not have that kind of money. They then demanded I give them money so that they release me, else they would kill me.
From place to place
Later, they again moved me to a children’s play area that had an aeroplane. One of my captors called John Atuhaire warned that even if I don’t give them money, Akullo (Director CID) and the President had ordered that I should be killed.
They questioned why Obey trusted me so much to handle his businesses and yet sidelined his relatives and his wife. They said I was fooling around that I don’t have money by driving a poor car yet I had money.
They vowed to finish me off. At this time, I was left alone with Atuhaire while the rest stood some distances away, but kept watching me. I told them I was also a worker and that the vehicle I’m driving is what I can afford. I told them I cannot buy a vehicle I could not afford to maintain.
Atuhaire, a tall and well-built man, left with all my personal effects, leaving me in the company of Superintendent of Police Edward Edyegu who was in plain clothes. It was Edyegu who arrested me and sat on me in the back seat.
Edyegu then embarked on sweet-talking me. He said if I gave them $100,000 they would let me go.
Setting the trap
I promised Edyegu that I would call my friend to get some money as Edyegu also called back John Atuhaire to return my phones.
And Atuhaire was back by midday as Edyegu instructed him to give me the phones. I called my close friend (name withheld), a businessman who always helps me with money. I told him that my captors would not allow me to disclose the nature of the problem.
After negotiations, they allowed me to call and tell him that my problem hinged on life and death and that he should urgently send some $100,000.
I was just buying time as I knew he did not have that much money. Indeed, my friend told me he did not have that kind of money. I told them he was looking for the money. They agreed to wait for an hour.
In the meantime, my wife had been calling but they never allowed me to pick up the call. She called again at 2pm and Atuhaire asked me who was Christine. I told him she was my wife. When I picked up her call, she started quarrelling and asking why I was not taking her calls. I told her to pick up the children from school and take one back to Namilyango College. I told her I was not safe.
Asking a waiter for help
My captors kept moving from one place to another and at one point took me back to the car where they squeezed me demanding that I produce the money. At Centenary Park, nobody could realise I was kidnap victim.
Back at the restaurant, when they moved off for a brief moment, I told the caretaker who I called as if to take my order, that I had been kidnapped and I asked her to find someone who would see where they were taking me.
The caretaker, a young lady, said Edyegu was the head of security at Centenary park. She never bothered.
After an hour, Atuhaire came back and asked me where the money was as he gave me the phones to call my friend again.
When I called my friend, he instead asked me what problem I had. I requested them to let me tell him. They told me to call my friend and tell him that I had been arrested but I had not yet been taken to the police and my friend’s money would save me from the police cells.
At that point, Atuhaire grabbed the phone and told my friend they were going to kill me if he did not produce the money in five minutes. On phone my friend pleaded with them not to kill me and promised to get back to them within one hour, to which they agreed.
At 5pm, after about two hours, they moved me from the car and back to the restaurant. We left Atuhaire taking beer using the money they had taken from me as we went into the Turkish Restaurant.
At the Turkish restaurant, the proprietor offered me a cup of coffee but Edyegu snatched the tea. Shortly after, Atuhaire joined us again and asked me to call my friend again. Though I called my friend, I had lost all hope since it was past 5pm. I knew my friend did not have the kind of money they demanded and they were going to kill me.
Overtime, I engaged Edyegu and he told me he had future plans of keeping goats in his home area in Busoga and I had promised I would get him some from my place in Ibanda. I was doing all this to buy time, but I knew my friend must have spread the word around.
At some point, when Edyegu moved out of the restaurant, I wrote a phone number on a receipt I had in my pocket, handed it to two men who were customers and told them to call the number and tell them where I was.
I called my friend and told him that am finished let him look after my family. He said he had gotten $35,000. Atuhaire then asked me what my friend had said. I told him. He told him my friend had gotten some $35,000 and Atuhaire quickly ordered him to bring the money to Parliament Avenue.
Even as Atuhaire left us and dashed to Parliament Avenue to receive the money, I knew my friend was away in Ntungamo and there was no way he would get that money.
After some time, Edyegu tried to call Atuhaire but he did not pick up the calls. Edyegu then burst into a feat of rage and quarrelling.
He accused Atuhaire of being a very bad man who must have taken all the money. Edyegu then turned to me and said should I not get the money, then I would be a gone case. I had lost all the hope, I knew mine was a death case.
My rescuers arrive
It was past 7pm when bullets rang out around the Electoral Commission offices. Edyegu then quickly moved me from the Turkish Restaurant towards Dewinton Road, near Parliament.
Before reaching Dewinton Road, Edyegu received a call from Atuhaire telling him that he had received the money. At Dewinton Road, while standing with Edyegu beside the iron sheets fence used to board off former Shimon Demonstration School, I saw my in-law Paul Gulindwa coming with another suspect on foot.
On realising it was the police, Edyegu tried to run away, forcing the officers from the Flying Squad to shoot in the air.
I told them Edyegu had a gun but the officer who came appeared to be his junior and could not disarm him. After a short while, Flying Squad commandant Herbert Muhangi arrived in a pick-up truck and looked puzzled. On seeing Edyegu, he asked: “You, a police officer, are the one doing this rubbish?”
He then ordered Edyegu disarmed, handcuffed and driven off to the Kampala Central Police Station.
The Flying Squad had arrested Superintendent of Police Edward Edyegu, John Atuhaire, also a police officer, and two special hire car drivers Dennis Ogwang and Moses Batambuze.
They then drove us to CPS for interrogation.