When you walk the streets of Kampala and its suburbs, you can’t fail to notice the posters of Christopher Aine, the missing head of Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi’s private security detail. The posters put up by police are announcing a Shs20 million reward for whoever provides police with information leading to his arrest.
Aine is wanted by police for a string of offences ranging from assault, resisting arrest, obstructing police officers on duty and escaping from lawful custody, all crimes he allegedly committed in September last year as police tried to block an imminent consultative meeting in the heart of Jinja by the Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi.
Well, that was in September, and Aine was arrested and detained at Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja, a place reserved for hardcore suspects, among them the former leader of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) Jamil Mukulu.
Then three months later, on December 12, a bloody fight broke out between candidate Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters and those of candidate Mbabazi.
The following day on December 13, the Inspector General General Kale Kayihura swung in action, and rushed to Ntungamo to guide investigations that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of the previous day’s fracas. But before the investigations could begin, Gen Kayihura offered a helicopter to transport the NRM supporters who had been beaten to hospital: some were taken to Mbabara Referral Hospital while others were taken to Mulago Referral Hospital for better health management.
And as all this was going on, Aine’s name surfaced again in the Ntungamo saga, sending the police into a manhunt for the same man who had given them a rough time in Jinja three months back.
Then early last month, Aine went missing from his home in Kyanja at 6amand, according to Ms Josephine Mayanja Nkangi, candidate Amama Mbabazi’s spokesperson, he was arrested by members of the Police Flying Squad.
“We are trying to get in touch with police to ask them why they arrested Mr Aine but they are denying; we are doing everything possible to see that we get a hold of him,” Ms Nkangi was quoted as saying then.
Candidate Mbabazi’s legal team also joined the fray, and has since then persistently accused the police for illegally holding Aine, accusations the police has denied repeatedly.
And, as if to strengthen the legal team’s claim, Mr Severino Twinobusinge, one of candidate Mbabazi’s lawyers claimed that the District Police Commander (DPC) of Ntungamo together with state prosecution put Aine’s name on the list of people who were supposed to appear in court, a move he says, confirms that Aine was in their custody. He however said that when court was about to hear the case, Aine’s name was deleted from the list.
But police rejected the claims, with Police Spokesman Fred Enanga denying Aine was in their custody.
“Those who are saying that police have arrested Mr Mbabazi’s bodyguard are totally wrong. Why would police arrest him? Mr Enanga told a local newspaper, adding: “since we have also been told about his disappearance, we shall investigate the manner in which he disappeared but holding police responsible would be wrong.”
Mr Enanga was later to say that police was yet to begin a search for Aine because they had not yet received reports of Aine’s disappearance from either the Go Forward team or from his family members.
He added that in order to start investigations, they were still waiting for anyone to come and report Aine’s disappearance since they (police) were just reading it from the media.
Then a few days after news of Aine’s disappearance emerged, the IGP placed a Shs20 million bounty on Aine’s head, a move that has since sent tongues wagging, with the opposition and some civil society groups saying the money is ‘too much’ for a case of simple assault.
Some have even made comparisons to last year’s serial killing of Muslim clerics, where police did not put up a bounty. This raised eyebrows, with some fingers being pointed to police again.
However, addressing journalists last Monday at police headquarters in Naguru, Mr Enanga justified the Shs20 million bounty, and said the Go Forward team is hiding Aine to try and tarnish the image of the police.
To further justify the money put on Aine’s head, Mr Enanga also that this was not the first time police had put a bounty for wanted persons, citing a few incidents including the Shs10 bounty put out for the unknown assailants who murdered State Prosecutor Joan Kagezi last year.
Meanwhile, while on the campaign trail, candidate Mbabazi was confronted by a one Jennifer Namuleme, said to be Aine’s mother, who demanded that he produce her son. In response, Mr Mbabazi said he too was looking for Aine.
And now Ritah Babirye, said to be a sister to Aine says the family is fearful that her brother may be dead, and that police has to say something about it.
So, with all the ping pong over Aine’s whereabouts, Ugandans are left in suspense, wondering where Aine is or what fate could have befallen him.
So, who is Christopher Aine?
It is said that Christopher Aine was born to the late RO 0044 Lt Col Julius Aine, a fiery and rebellious bush war fighter who joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) in 1981 to fight alongside current President and NRM Chairman Yoweri Museveni and he participated in the attack of Kabamba Barracks on February 6 1981.
Lt Col Aine died in a motor accident in the 1990s and people familiar with the tale of father and son compare their valour in the face of resisting authority, with some saying that ‘the rebellious traits of the late Lt Col Aine were rubbed onto his son’.
And, could it be the same traits that are responsible for the younger Aine’s current woes?