In a joint operation, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and the Police on Tuesday raided a Pentecostal Church in Kibuye, a Kampala suburb along Entebbe road and arrested over 40 people identified as Rwandans.
According to intelligence, they are being held over security concerns.
The operation was conducted at 11:00 am under heavy deployment at ADEPR (Association of Pentecostal Churches of Rwanda), on the first floor of Join-Us Flat, a former famous discotheque in the busy slum area.
Local council officials said the security raid was the second in three months. During the April operation, several worshippers, including their leader, one Mama Kevin and her husband were picked by the CMI operatives.
While some witnesses said 40 people, including women, were picked on Tuesday, Haji Swaibu Miti, the defense secretary of Kizito village, Najjanankumbi II parish, said about 80 were arrested. “Those nabbed were whisked away in two Police patrol pickup trucks, two Toyota Noahs and two coaster buses,” he said.
Brig Richard Karemire, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, yesterday confirmed the arrests but declined to give the number of people arrested. Although he did not give details of the holding charges, Karemire disclosed that the screening of the group was underway.
Without divulging details, Karemire said the suspects were being held in a gazetted place. The Rwandan High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj. Gen Frank Mugambage, in a telephone interview, said he had received information about the arrest. The envoy declined to answer more questions when asked if he had been in touch or had offered consular services to the suspect.
The cell has been operating in Kibuye near Kampala, which is where the joint operation cracked down on the elements and arrested them on Tuesday. A reliable source who is privy to details regarding the operations told Ugandanz News that those arrested are members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), a Rwandan intelligence agency.
They allegedly were carrying out espionage as well as other subversive activities in Uganda, under the cover of a Pentecostal Church called ADPR. “Authorities in Rwanda have been sending ‘pastors’ to operate in Uganda who in an actual sense are intelligence officers on covert missions,” an impeccable source told Ugandanz News.
When security agencies intensified operations aimed at cracking down on such acts of espionage beginning last year, the elements aligned with the said ‘church organization’ ADEPR went underground, a source told this news website.
The crackdown had also resulted in some arrests and deportations of those found to harbor hostile intentions, back to Rwanda. The intelligence network of the Rwandan espionage churches is commanded by Mucyo, the First Secretary of Rwanda’s Embassy in Uganda and Col James Burabyo.
The hitmen desk is headed by the Police Attaché CP Ismail Baguma who also coordinates with ADF hitmen elements. The source revealed that the 40 suspects have been apprehended to aid investigations by Ugandan security.
They are accused of using the church as a front organization to carry out undercover operations. Another source says one of the church operatives who has been arrested and deported back to Rwanda is currently detained in Rwanda and facing charges relating to mishandling their operations in Uganda.
The detainee reportedly faces a 30-year jail term if convicted. Rwanda is known to rely significantly on clandestine intelligence networks planted in other countries some times using female sex workers.
Intelligence sources revealed that some of the suspects were in possession of forged Uganda National Identity cards. The arrests came one-and-half weeks after Presidents Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, met in the Angola capital, Luanda, and agreed to open dialogue in a bid to find a lasting solution to whatever differences that exist between the two countries.
Uganda and Rwanda relations hit a snag after Rwanda closed its border and blocked its citizens from entering Uganda on grounds that it did not guarantee their security. Rwanda also accused Uganda of arresting its citizens and supporting dissidents, which Uganda dispelled.