NGO behind “Stop Kony” campaign helped Ugandan government foil alleged “treason” plot

US Embassy in Kampala, 11 June 2009:

The latest plot was exposed when the Government received a tip from the U.S. non-governmental organization (NGO) Invisible Children regarding the location of Patrick Komekech. He was wanted by the security services for impersonating LRA leaders to extort money from government officials, NGOs, and Acholi leaders. Komekech is purportedly a former child soldier abducted by the LRA. Invisible Children had featured him in its documentaries. Invisible Children reported that Komekech had been in Nairobi and had recently reappeared in Gulu, where he was staying with the NGO. Security organizations jumped on the tip and immediately arrested Komekech on March 5. He had a satellite telephone and other gadgets, which were confiscated when security forces picked him up.
Bigombe, who has known Komekech for the past ten years, said Komekech had confessed to being part of a new anti-government movement in the north. Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) officers confirmed Komekech’s confession and said that the new group, which was previously called the Uganda’ Peoples Front (UPF), is now the PPF. Its objective is to overthrow the Ugandan Government. Komekech reportedly gave the locations of several arms caches in Pader District with a total of 600 weapons. The group had begun recruiting throughout the north, from West Nile to Pader. Komekech named several former LRA combatants that had been integrated into the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) as members of the new group as well as other civilian participants. The security services have been slowly arresting these individuals and interrogating them. The detainees have been kept separately, but all are reporting similar information about the group, its intentions, and its financiers, according to Bigombe.
A Gulu-based “journalist”, Patrick Otim, also was picked up, according to press reports. Gulu Resident District Commissioner Walter Ochora told P/E Chief that Otim is not a journalist, but an administrative officer at a local radio station.
P/E Chief asked a Chieftancy of Military Intelligence (CMI) officer on June 9 if the Government was planning to charge Komekech and the others in court. The officer replied that Komekech and the other low-level operatives will be released. They allegedly have been cooperative and agreed to reveal publicly the names of their supporters in the diaspora. The officer said that CMI was waiting for President Museveni to approve the plan to publicly “shame” the diaspora.

New Vision, 6 March 2012:

ONE of the 13 people accused of plotting to overthrow the government of President Yoweri Museveni yesterday ‘disowned’ his confession statement, claiming torture, intimidation, and threats to his life.

John Otim was giving his testimony at the High Court in Kampala when court opted for a trial within a trial after the defence lawyers objected to the testimony of prosecution witness number 16 Joel Loum.

The defence lawyers argued that Otim could not own the Charge and Caution statement, claiming it was pre-recorded at Gulu Military barracks in 2009 between June 2, and 8.They stated that it was later taken to Gulu Police station, from where Otim was forced to sign it on June 9.

The other accused are Alex Okot Langwen,the son of former chief of the Uganda National Liberation Army Lt Gen Bazilio Olara-Okello, journalist Patrick Otim, Patrick Komakech(peasant), and Patrick Otim(student).
Otim, 35, claimed that he was arrested on June 2, 2009, when on his way to school at Comboni Vocational School in Gulu. He asserted that plain-clothed armed men bundled him onto a double cabin truck, blindfolded him, and sped off. He said he later realised that he was at the military barracks.

Otim identified his purported tormenters only as Capt. Okello, and Lt Adupango, saying he was threatened with death and told to reveal the location of the guns hidden in Oyuku hills in Latanya village.

“Captain Okello removed his pistol, forced it inside my mouth and one of my canine teeth broke. He told me that he would kill me like he did to Opon Acak, and that no one would claim for me” Otim asserted.

He dismissed as untrue allegations that on June 7, 2009, he led investigators to the scene where the guns were hidden.Otim said an army man, whom he identified only as Omony, located the area using an arms detecting device. He said he was later ordered to hold two guns, and then photographed.

Accordingly, the judge is expected to give his ruling today in light of the allegations raised by Otim.

[Some context on Invisible Children here and here.]