UAH is secular, intellectual and non-aligned politically, culturally or religiously email discussion group.


On this day exactly 46 years ago, the Former Chief Justice of Uganda, Benedicto Kiwanuka was abducted by four unknown men from his chambers at the High Court in the capital Kampala. He was never seen again. The judiciary and the legal fraternity yesterday held the inaugural Ben Kiwanuka Memorial lecture in remembrance of the Chief Justice.
At the time of his abduction, Ben Kiwanuka had just been appointed Chief Justice by President Idi Amin the year before. His appointment to the senior position was on 27th June 1971. His abduction also came a few weeks after he had been designated by President Idi Amin as the person who would be the next president of Uganda. Back stage discussions were in high gear for the military to return the country to civilian rule. It now only awaited the formal announcement. Benedicto Kiwanuka had also been one of the 51 political prisoners jailed by the previous president Milton Obote and whom Amin had freed a year earlier before appointing him Chief Justice of Uganda. Suddenly after their release, several of these freed politicians started disappearing mysteriously. Why?
The only person who had known ill motives against Ben Kiwanuka was a possibly disgruntled former President Milton Obote who had arrested Kiwanuka as one of his political opponents, and Obote was now seeing Ben Kiwanuka rising again in a high position in the new government while he was the one now kicked out of the presidency and in exile.
There was also the little known case of Wanume Kibedi, Foreign Minister in the Amin government, and an inlaw to Amin who was married to his sister First Lady Mama Maryam.
It was reported to the 1974 Commission of Inquiry that Foreign Minister Kibedi had wanted himself to be the president when the army returned power to civilian rule. After news of Kibedi's intentions started reaching President Amin, he summoned both Kibedi and Ben Kiwanuka for a meeting and indicated clearly to both parties that the Chief Justice being the most senior civilian government official after the military president and his military Vice President, Ben Kiwanuka would be the civilian official to take charge as interim president and be responsible for organizing general elections within four years. This development is what is said to have angered Kibedi who wanted to be the one to become the president after the military government returned to the barracks.
After the disappearance of Ben Kiwanuka, Amin mentioned Obote's rebels as the main suspects. Indeed the abduction happened just five days after the Obote rebels had infiltrated Uganda from Tanzania on September 17th and divided themselves in several groups to attack different parts of the country. They had with them a list of prominent government officials to eliminate. They had even been crushed in their main military offensive on a military barracks in Mbarara town where around 350 ill-prepared rebels were killed or captured mostly by the local civilian population when the poorly-trained rebels fired away their guns unprofessionally and quickly found themselves out of ammunition, then attempted to hide amongst the population. This attack is known as the 1972 invasion and is said to be the reason why Mbarara people were massacred when the rebels returned seven years later, this time accompanied by the Tanzanian forces. An event known as the Mbarara massacre.
However, in regard to the Ben Kiwanuka disappearance, an event that shocked the country while Ugandans were still in the euphoria and celebrations of the expulsion of British Asians that hàd just happened a month earlier in August 1972, the police investigation on the abduction started indicating Foreign Minister Wanume Kibedi as a possible suspect. Indeed a year after the disappearance, a soldier named Simon Kintu would reveal to the 1974 Commission of Inquiry that he had been secretly contacted by Foreign Minister Kibedi whom he knew personally, and asked to eliminate Ben Kiwanuka so that Kibedi would automatically be the next senior civilian official in line for the interim presidency. The soldier said that he went back to work and dodged all subsequent attempts by the Foreign Minister to meet him on the subject. He had simply decided to not get involved in the request to assassinate the Chief Justice. The officer then told the commission that when he later heard the news that Ben Kiwanuka had been abducted, "By God I knew it could only be Kibedi."
Four months after the abduction, when Foreign Minister Kibedi learned of the police investigation determining him as a suspect, he quickly fled to London. That was January 1973.
Thirteen years later, during the1986 NRM Commission of Inquiry, Wanume Kibedi, who had returned to Uganda under the 1980's Obote II/UNLA regime, was summoned to answer the same accusations about his possible involvement in the disappearance of Chief Justice Ben Kiwanuka. While he vehemently refuted the allegations, he immediately fled back again to exile until his death two years ago in London on 13th June 2016. The Buganda establishment was still considering him a suspect in the disappearance of their hero who had also previouslybeen the first Prime Minister of Uganda at independeñce in 1962, and whom Amin had actually liberated from Obote's prisons in 1971, appointed him Chief Justice of Uganda, and treated him well in the one year that he served before he was brutally abducted, never to be seen again.
It is the attacks by the rebels, the assassinations they were conducting, the tense security situation, and the fear of Obote's return that made the elders of Rukungiri write a petition calling for President Amin to remain in office, and they called for him to be designated Life President.
But it is especially the abduction of Ben Kiwanuka that saw all Amin's plans for return to civilian rule crushed by the abductors.
Today, as the country remembers Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, it is highly probable (and incredible) that Obote and his UPC party supporters who fanatically hated Ben Kiwanuka politically as they had imprisoned him and countless other political opponents in 1969, yet he rose to serve highly in government after Obote was deposed, those UPC fans and the real abductors who snatched him on 22 September 1972 during the Obote invasion from Tanzania, are among the people who have been mourning him loudest for the last 46 years.
To his day, the final words in the official police investigation report are: "Whereabouts still unknown".


By Hussein Lumumba Amin

Disclaimer:Everyone posting to this Forum bears the sole responsibility for any legal consequences of his or her postings, and hence statements and facts must be presented responsibly. Your continued membership signifies that you agree to this disclaimer and pledge to abide by our Rules and Guidelines.To unsubscribe from this group, send email to:

Sharing is Caring:



Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Blog Archive