Security on Thursday morning grabbed National Unity Platform president, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine shortly after landing at Entebbe International Airport.
Early this week, NUP leaders asked the party supporters to throng Entebbe Airport in big numbers to welcome their leader who was returning from abroad.
In a procession dubbed the “one million march” NUP leaders sought to march from the airport to the city centre with their president.
However, police had warned them against the procession and also advised members of the public against joining the same.
Security didn’t want to give chance to the NUP supporters whose march to the city centre would coincide with President Museveni’s gathering at Kololo ceremonial grounds to mark the world teachers’ day.
In the build up to the arrest, security operatives had since Wednesday rolled out a well-orchestrated plan that would not only stop NUP members from going to the airport to pick Kyagulanyi but also deal with any form of protests in the city and its environs.
Apart from issuing warnings, security also met to woo leaders of groups in transport including boda boda and others in the informal sector to ensure they don’t join the procession by NUP.
“The boda boda riders and taxi drivers were neutralized through penetrating their leaders who were warned of dire consequences in case their members were captured participating the processions to receive Bobi Wine,” a security source privy to the matter told the Nile Post.
Security also used the leaders of the Ghetto Youths who have in the past been mobilized and supported to enable them start their own businesses by government through the Crime Intelligence Director, Brig Christopher Ddamulira.
The leaders were asked to ensure their members don’t participate in the procession to welcome Kyagulanyi.
“For those groups of NUP supporters and leaders who mobilized members to participate in the procession, it was easy for intelligence to pick them and arrested starting on Wednesday,” the source said.
As early as last week, the military and police had deployed personnel in major parts of the city, especially the Constitutional Square.
They deployed throughout Thursday.
Also, there was deployment in hotspots and some junctions towards the city centre.
Along the Kampala-Entebbe Road, police erected roadblocks from where some of the vehicles suspected to be carrying people to the airport to join the procession were stopped and checked.
Meanwhile, at the NUP headquarters in Kamwoya, heavily armed military and police personnel laid siege to prevent protests from sprouting.
Now that the boda boda riders had feared to take part in the procession, it was not easy for other members of the public to take part in the same since there was heavy deployment.
Planning the arrest
Before Kyagulanyi returned home, security contemplated airlifting him.
With information scanty about his program while returning, security also contemplated airlifting the NUP supremo from Nairobi to Uganda.
This line of thought came after intelligence reports emerged that Kyagulanyi would land in Kenya and use the road via Busia to Kampala.
Another source privy to the operation told this website that security dropped the entire idea of airlifting Kyagulanyi and focused on ensuring he is delivered to his home by the road but also preventing his supporters from carrying out processions.
“Security agreed that he is picked from the tarmac as he lands and driven to his home.”
On Thursday morning, when Kyagulanyi landed, security personnel dressed as airport staff grabbed him and bundled him into a waiting Renault Duster and driven away.
Kyagulanyi told journalists later that he was driven to the old airport when he was put into another waiting van before being driven home via Entebbe Expressway.
Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters
Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox
“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 goon grabbed me, twisted my hands and bundled me in waiting car,” he said.
He said at the old airport he was put in a car which had military and police officers and driven home.
In a statement, Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango said Kyagulanyi had successfully been “escorted” to his home in Magere.
“He reached his home around 11.20am, and is with his family and friends. Disregard rumors of his arrest by propagandists. Meanwhile, business activities and movements along Entebbe Road, within Kampala and Gayaza, are flowing smoothly,” Onyango said.