Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | On Thursday 5, October 2023 morning, security personnel apprehended Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine and the president of the National Unity Platform (NUP), upon his arrival at Entebbe International Airport.
Earlier this week, NUP leaders had urged their party supporters to gather in large numbers at Entebbe Airport to welcome their leader back from his overseas trip. They planned a procession named the “one million march,” with the intention of marching from the airport to the city center alongside their president.
However, law enforcement had issued warnings against this procession and advised the general public not to participate in it. Security was concerned about the NUP supporters’ march to the city center coinciding with President Museveni’s event at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, which was scheduled to mark World Teachers’ Day.
In the lead-up to Bobi Wine’s arrest, security operatives had devised a well-organized strategy starting from Wednesday 4th. Their plan aimed not only to prevent NUP members from going to Entebbe Airport to welcome Bobi Wine but also to quell any potential protests in the city and its surrounding areas.
Aside from issuing warnings, security engaged with leaders of various transportation groups, including boda boda riders and those in the informal sector, to dissuade them from participating in the NUP procession.
“Boda boda riders and taxi drivers were influenced through their leaders, who were cautioned about severe consequences if their members were caught participating in the processions to welcome Bobi Wine,” disclosed a security source familiar with the matter.
Security also contacted leaders of the Ghetto Youths, a group that had previously received support from the government to start their own businesses through Crime Intelligence Director Brig. Christopher Ddamulira. These leaders were urged to ensure their members did not take part in the procession.
“For NUP supporters and leaders who organized members to participate in the procession, intelligence agencies found it relatively easy to identify and arrest them, starting on Wednesday,” the source added.
Deployment of security personnel had commenced as early as the previous week, with military and police personnel stationed in key areas of the city, particularly Constitutional Square. This deployment continued throughout Thursday, with hotspots and junctions leading to the city center also seeing a significant presence of security forces.
Along the Kampala-Entebbe Road, police erected roadblocks to inspect vehicles suspected of carrying people heading to the airport for the procession.
At the NUP headquarters in Kamwoya, heavily armed military and police personnel were stationed to deter any potential protests.
Security’s initial contemplation of airlifting Bobi Wine due to uncertainty surrounding his travel plans was abandoned. Intelligence reports suggested that Bobi Wine would land in Kenya and then travel by road via Busia to Kampala. Ultimately, security opted to pick him up from the airport upon his arrival and escort him to his residence via road, while also preventing his supporters from organizing processions.
On Thursday 5th morning, as Bobi Wine landed, security personnel, disguised as airport staff, swiftly apprehended him and placed him in a waiting Renault Duster before driving away. Kyagulanyi later informed journalists that he was taken to the old airport, where he was transferred to another waiting vehicle containing military and police officers, eventually being driven home via the Entebbe Expressway.
“I am officially not in Uganda because I didn’t go through immigration. They picked me illegally, and right now, I am under house arrest since soldiers and police have surrounded my home. As soon as I landed, goons grabbed me, twisted my hands, and bundled me into a waiting car,” he explained.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Patrick Onyango issued a statement, confirming that Kyagulanyi had been “escorted” to his home in Magere. He mentioned that Kyagulanyi had arrived home around 11:20 am and was with his family and friends.
Onyango urged the public to disregard any rumors of Kyagulanyi’s arrest, asserting that business activities and movements in the specified areas were proceeding smoothly.