KAMPALA – New details have emerged on the disappearance of French citizen Benjamin Rutabana, with the American human rights firm, International Relief and Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI), maintaining stance in the inquiry of the tycoon who went missing about a year ago.
Mr. Greg Smith Heavens, CEO and Founder President IRHRI has in a missive to this website revealed that President Museveni has picked interest in the matter, thanks to the media and diplomatic conversations between French and Ugandan authorities.
Owing to the sensitivity of the matter, sources say Museveni caught wind of the matter and has long ordered for Rutabana to be protected safely rather than being detained.
Quoting unnamed sources Mr. Greg claims Rutabana is alive and well, and not being held against his will.
“While it might not sound comforting to Rutabana’s family and well-wishers that he is alive and well in Kampala, there are likely more stakes surrounding his reappearance than his disappearance”, says Greg, adding that sources informed his firm that the government of Rwanda through its Embassy in Uganda, after learning of Rutabana’s arrest, has since shown a suspicious interest in him as a high profile RNC’s Commissioner for Capacity Development.
Apparently, the French ambassador whom the court advised together with the government of Uganda to apply diplomatic means to find the whereabouts of Rutabana, said “we take note of the court ruling” only without divulging more details on how far they have reached with diplomacy or if they can confirm that Rutabana is safe and well protected”
His disappearance came amid a far-reaching standoff with his formers colleagues in the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) leaders led by Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
RNC sources say Kayumba who is on wanted by Rwanda administration over committing alleged atrocities received a lot of money from Rutabana, with the latter being a tycoon, in return for some favors; but former plotted to swindle the money and put Rutabana.
Rutabana has since lost ground to claim it, providing Kayumba whose funders are said to have pulled out with an opportunity to enjoy the money freely.
Kayumba in a scathing reply vehemently denied involvement in the disappearance of the tycoon adding: “What can make me happy today is being able to see him alive and safe and able to reunite with his wife and children.”
“Firstly, it is sad because Ben Rutabana has a wife, children, and extended family and until today we don’t know his whereabouts like our colleagues who have disappeared in the past. My prayer is for him to be found safe.
Unfortunately, media outlets and some people associated to his family have claimed that Uganda has him, and yet, a competent court in Uganda proved otherwise,” Gen. Nyamwasa said during a Talk show on Washington- based Radio Itahuka in early July.
It is obvious, he said, that Rwanda finds this case an opportunity to tarnish his name as well as the rather good image of Rwanda Nation Congress.
In fact, he says Rwanda’s hand, in this case, is more visible.
“I have no doubt that Rwanda knows Ben Rutabana’s whereabouts because the first person to write about his disappearance was their agent (Tom Ndahiro). Where did he get the information?” he said.
He noted that the Kigali establishment is now running psychological operation with the case to purposefully create confusion among his friends and family while trying to absolve themselves of any culpability.
“We are all worried, I am worried & RNC is worried that he is not with his wife, children and family and what Kagame thinks is that he can use Ben Rutabana’s disappearance to tarnish my name and that of RNC when they clearly know his whereabouts. The judgment is out and clear. It can’t work,” Said Gen. Nyamwasa.
But Greg, in the missive, aimed a searing dig at Kayumba, vehemently trashing his utterance and describing the reply as full of as lies.
As more details about Kayumba’s efforts to cover up his links to the matter, sources say the two had fallen out in the months preceding his visit to Uganda and that this fallout, it is said in some circles, to have led to his betrayal in Kampala or rather someone in his circles blew the whistle to Ugandan authorities.
It is alleged that Rutabana and Nyamwasa differed in opinions, on among others the killing of their boys in DRC, and the latter (Nyamwasa) seemed not to act. Thereafter some of the survivors called Rutabana in confidence that they had actually fled to Uganda.
Ugandan authorities have previously dismissed the narrative.
Meanwhile, Greg has asked the French authorities through the Kampala embassy to demand the rights of its missing citizen as one of the diplomatic means to secure him from the alleged detention.
“Special thanks go to some individual Ugandan top security officers who took risks and accepted to share information with us to see that Rutabana can be helped. Some were interrogated, some were punished, but as a human rights body, we thank them for not being selfish while they see someone’s rights being violated. We do give them special recognition,” Mr Greg whose organization is planning another legal suit wrote.
He has since encouraged President Museveni to do everything he can in his capacity to secure the release of Rutabana.
“I urge Mr Museveni and his government to ensure his immediate release. Uncertainty really engulfs his family, they need him since he was the breadwinner and has not been seen for a year now,” Mr Greg said.