The Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI) and Police Crime Intelligence Directorate arrested a university don in Kampala on suspicion of spying for a foreign country and working in the country illegally.
Forces from both organizations combined, arrested Dr Lawrence Muganga, the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University, and his personal assistant, whose identity remains unconfirmed.
“He is being held on claims of espionage,” Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso said.
“He holds a foreign passport and has been working in Uganda illegally. His wife also has a Rwandan passport. They are in the country illegally,” she added.
However, security organs refused to disclose the country he is allegedly spying for. Convicted spies face up to seven years in jail or deportation to their home countries.
The Vice chancellor is a Ugandan from Greater Masaka who is said to have lived lived and studied in the country up to university. He said he later visited Rwanda to help companies there build different capacities, after which he attained a scholarship to attend graduate school in Canada.
He has been part and parcel of a team advocating to change the name of Banyarwanda community in Uganda’s Constitution to “Abavandimwe”, because they perceive the status quo as persecution and marginalisation by Ugandan authorities.
He has been joined by a section of Banyarwanda in Uganda allege that authorities have been denying them passports, national identity cards and services because they are Banyarwanda. The intensity of the debate had also caused legal action against some members of the advocacy over defamation claims.
The most recent relationship between Uganda and Rwanda has been intense, with a couple of arrests of nationals of both countries, and halts of trade between the two countries.
According to reliable sources, Dr Muganga has a Ugandan national ID as well as a Canadian passport. Reports that he has a passport from a third country could not be independently verified.
Sources said the university don had earlier been provided with counter-terrorism guards in response to unspecified threats to him over his Abavandimwe campaign by an unnamed country. It was not immediately clear how he went from an asset worth protecting to a person of interest to an espionage investigation.
Dr Muganga was arrested by security operatives wielding assault rifles. He and his bodyguard were bundled into a van which sped off to an unknown place. By press time yesterday, it wasn’t clear where he was being detained.
His lawyer, Robert Rutaro, described the arrest as a kidnap.
“Dr Muganga and his bodyguard were beaten by the armed men before they were bundled in a drone (van). Fear and shock engulfed Victoria University when heavily armed gunmen raided the area,” he said.