National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters who are assumed to have been abducted and missing are said to have been paid to fake their abductions and relocate from their current known areas of residence to new locations within or outside Uganda.
According to sources, some of these fake kidnapping victims are hiding in Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana, where they are waiting to get visas to move to other countries of interest.
Jonathan Tumaini, a resident of Pangani, Nairobi, states that for a while he had noticed Ugandans arriving in Nairobi with small hand luggage in the wee hours of the morning after alighting from Nairobi-Kampala buses.
“Initially, I thought they were here for business, but there was a similar trend about these Ugandans that made me take a keen interest in establishing what their stay in Kenya was,” Tumaini said.
“They like staying in the areas of Pangani mostly and would always stay bundled up and kept to themselves,” he added.
According to Tumaini, he picked interest in a girl he only identified as Jolly, and they got into a relationship, stating that once she got comfortable with him, he asked some questions about their stay in Kenya and how they support themselves financially, as they didn’t work.
“She revealed that they were paid to fake their own kidnapping and leave Uganda for Kenya, where they help them process visas easily to other countries, on condition that they tell no one. They promise to take care of their families until they get jobs abroad,” Tumaini said.
According to Tumaini, the operation is run by the secretary general, General Rubongoya, in collaboration with Babu Owino, who delivers the payments to them monthly for their upkeep until they leave the country.
On December 9, 2020, Kiyimba, a resident of Mukono who used to work as a casual worker at Betty Namboze’s home while still residing at Nabutti Zone, Kiko parish, reported a case to police in Mukono that Namboze and the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, had failed to pay him and his colleagues, Shafik Kalungi and Stephen Mwanje Ugx, 500,000, each, for hiring them to self-abduct.
“I was approached by Namboze to find her some people who could do a quick job at Ugx. 500,000; all we needed to do was be transported from Mukono to Masaka to meet with Mpuuga and reporters, allege being kidnapped by security forces, and allege that we were grabbed, thrown into a drone, and injected with some staff to keep us calm,” Kiyimba said.
Kiyimba told the Uganda Human Rights Commission that youths are coached and record videos to fake drone kidnapping and are hiding in different countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, waiting for visas to Canada, and the USA.
Patrick Wakida, a political analyst, states that the NUP leadership is aware of the whereabouts of the people they demand from the government, knowing well that the government cannot produce them since they are out of the country. According to Wakida, they use the situation to garner political support and mileage.
“Take, for example, Mpuuga, who has been so quiet to the extent that most of the NUP supporters suspect he is working for the government, but since his term as LOP is coming to an end, he has taken keen interest in politicking the abductions to show relevancy to the party so that he can be given a second term,” said Wakida.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission reported that some of the people marked missing were arrested and charged in court. UHRC states that 18 were untraceable, but considering Tumaini’s admissions, it is safe to establish that NUP is paying people to abduct themselves and exploit them for political benefit and to attract funders.