It is almost three years now since the former Coordinator of Intelligence Services, Gen David Sejusa, an officer who has had several run-ins with the ruling hierarchy on account of his anti-establishment political views, was last seen in public.
The decorated bush war hero had turned into one of the fiercest critics of President Museveni which forced him into self-imposed exile only to return after a year to make peace with the commander-in-chief — but the criticism never stopped. He is now said to be under house arrest, writes SADAB KITATTA KAAYA from the Observer Newspaper.
During the 2016 general elections, Gen Sejusa (formerly known as David Tinyefuza) was one of the vocal voices against the alleged malpractices which undermined, and called into question, mostly the presidential polls.
Today, he is only active on Twitter through his handle @sejudav through which he continues engaging with the public on current political issues. From about May 2016 when Justice Margaret Oguli-Oumo adjudicated his case against the government, Sejusa has been living a life of seclusion, only meeting with close family members.
His lawyer David Mushabe told The Observer on Monday that he hadn’t talked to him “in many, many months.”
It has now come to light that his absence from public view is involuntary. An aide to opposition heavy weight Dr Kizza Besigye; Sejusa’s longtime friend, has said that the former presidential candidate recently wanted to visit his bush war comrade but he couldn’t. The atmosphere outside his Naguru residence was of a person under house arrest, the aide said.
A source within the intelligence services told this writer that the former chief of combat operations is indeed under house arrest, a claim which army spokesman Brig Richard Karemire downplayed when interviewed on Monday.
According to the security source, Sejusa’s movements are restricted. He can only be visited by immediate family members. If he has to move out of his house, he has to seek clearance from the army leadership, and must be escorted. There are soldiers permanently camped outside his gate. Karemire said this detachment was deployed in recognition of Sejusa’s high rank in the army.
“He is a general of the UPDF, and every general is entitled to security. If you doubt, come and visit my home and see if I don’t have security,” Karemire said.
But Mushabe said that Sejusa has previously protested the presence of soldiers outside his residence. Following the Justice Oguli judgement in 2016 which declared that Sejusa had been constructively discharged from the army, he threatened to drag the army leadership to court over the deployment.
Sejusa went to court after the army leadership appeared determined not to let him retire from service, a situation which made it impossible for him to participate in politics. Military law and the country’s constitution bar serving officers from indulging in partisan politics.
In response to Sejusa’s threat to sue, the soldiers were moved from inside his compound to outside the gate where they have been camping for nearly three years now.
“You can’t force security on someone; it is discretionary upon the recipient. If the recipient rejects it and government forces it upon him, it tantamounts to false imprisonment,” Mushabe said.
The lawyer, however, doubted whether Sejusa could be under house arrest since he hadn’t told him about it.
“He is my client, if there is anything of the sort, he would have informed me,” Mushabe said.
Before Museveni listed him among the 16 generals who were retired in October 2018, Justice Oguli had ruled on May 28, 2016 that Sejusa ceased being a member of the UPDF on April 8, 2015 with the expiry of the mandatory 90 days within which the army has to respond to an application from a soldier to be retired.
Oguli’s declarations were based on the fact that Sejusa was no longer enjoying his benefits as a serving army officer. His salary had been withheld, his guns, uniforms, meals, housing and official transport had been withdrawn, plus the army leadership refused to deploy him.
“It is hereby declared that since the respondent [UPDF] constructively discharged the applicant, the applicant is entitled to a discharge certificate accordingly,” Oguli ruled.
The ruling came within 17 months after Sejusa returned home from the UK where he had fled into exile in April 2013. He fled weeks after authoring a missive which called for an investigation into claims that some high-ranking government and military officers opposed to President Museveni’s succession plan were targets for assassination.
While in London, Sejusa began associating with like-thinking Ugandans in the diaspora, leading to the formation of a group which advocated for an end to Museveni’s rule. The group’s activities collapsed once Sejusa returned to Uganda and held a private meeting with Museveni at State House Entebbe on January 3, 2015.
Knowledgeable sources have told The Observer that Sejusa’s troubles have something to do with his close ties with Rwanda’s president, Gen Paul Kagame; a former combatant in the National Resistance Army (NRA), the outfit which thrust Museveni into power in 1986. There is suspicion that Kagame, who no longer sees eye-to-eye with Museveni, had a hand in Sejusa’s oppositionist activities.
“Those allegations are not new; they first came up when he was charged before the court martial [in 2016] but they failed to formally bring them up as charges, they instead preferred service offences against him,” Mushabe said.
“Rumours about him started in 2012 that he wanted to overthrow the government, all I can say is that the charges against him are political, which have no end,” Mushabe added.