Rwandan-run church was on state radar for months

BY: Eyalama In Politics On
UPDF Spokesperson: Brigadier Karemire
UPDF Spokesperson: Brigadier Karemire

The Tuesday raid commanded by personnel from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) on Agapeo International Pentecostal Church was the fourth by security agencies within six months, neighbours and witnesses said yesterday.

Security cordoned off the place as the group held a meeting and ordered them out into a waiting van.

Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango says the Police played a supportive role during the operation, which was carried out by soldiers.

UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, could not give any comment saying investigations are going on.

[corona country="Uganda" title="Uganda"]

Only church leaders, including a female pastor, were arrested in previous operations, one business woman said, asking not to be named for fear of being targeted by the state.
On the fateful day, dozens of smartly dressed men and women hopped off a bus that plies the Uganda-Kigali route and paced up the first floor of a four-storey building on Ssuuna Road in Kibuye, Rubaga Division, in Kampala.

Raided. A google map grab of the building which accommodates Agapeo church that was raided by security operatives on Tuesday.

“Those people [who were arrested] started arriving at the church at about 9am, they were coming in pairs dressed in suits. They would buy a book and a pen before going up the first floor of the building,” a witness said.
They did not sing or preach. The church was largely quiet, the witness added, making it difficult for neighbours to ascertain what was underway inside the room.

[corona country="Kenya" title="Kenya"]

The guests were all new faces, according to Anathanel Mbabazi, the church guard, who said he had been on the job for only three days.
Fear was palpable among residents and witnesses we interviewed last evening, with most asking not to be named amid fears that revelation of their identities could place them on state security radar.
Another witness said the church established in the area about three years ago, with its activities stalling and re-starting over the months.

They hold no overnights and most of the services happen on Sunday, residents recounted. The current pastor was identified only as Kamanzi and he was also arrested during the Tuesday raid.
On other days, the church hosts wedding meetings and other functions. The current leaders of Agapeo International Pentecostal Church, unlike their predecessors, did not cooperate with the local authorities, according to Hajj Swaibu Miti, the Defence secretary of Besania zone, where the church is located.
“When they came to the area, we told them to bring their documents to the Local Council office so that they introduce themselves, but they never came. The new pastor was not cooperative as the old one,” Hajj Miti said.

Soldiers had previously stormed two churches in city suburbs of Kansanga and Ndeeba, which residents say were run by Rwandan nationals, and arrested an unknown number of worshippers.
The Tuesday function at Agapeo International Pentecostal Church appeared particularly unique. The attendants were new faces, but all smartly dressed.
A feast seemed planned too, one witness said. By the time a joint security force stormed the place, hired cooks were just starting to prepare meal for the guests.

They were stopped in their trucks and the food items, including rice and meat, handed for free to onlookers.
The soldiers were tough but friendly, one witness said, adding that they took the direction of Masaka highway as they whisked away the estimated 40 to 50 people they arrested.
Boda bodas at a nearby stage said even the cooks were taken into custody.

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