KAMPALA, UGANDA: Police detectives investigating the grievous shooting in which popular Ugandan vlogger Ibrahim Tusubira alias Isma Olaxess was shot dead over the weekend have put his driver under witness protection after calls on social media by some of the deceased’s fans for his arrest or reprisal against him.
Olaxess, also known as Jajja Iculi was Saturday evening at 9:20 pm gunned down by the yet-to-identified assailants riding on a motorcycle had gunned near his home in Kyanja, a Kampala urban suburb.
At the time of his fatal shooting, Iculi was in the company of his driver identified as Mathias Wasswa, who in the aftermath of the bullets spree escaped unhurt and narrated how the gunmen sprayed over 8 bullets on the deceased who was seated in the passenger seat of the front row.
His comments left some of Iculi’s fans and relatives in dismay, questioning how the attackers left him (Waswa) untouched, and how he was able to recount the shooting incident to give a prompt interview thereafter on how the attack happened.
Police yesterday confirmed that Waswa had been put under protection from the public and that he recorded a statement with investigative officers detailing Jajja Iculi’s last moments including places he visited and persons he met.
Investigators also retrieved his telephone communications records to analyse who he last spoke with, and if the nature of messaging could offer new clues on the possible motive of the killing or identity of the masterminds.
In a related development, detectives who spent their entire weekend at the scene of crime have revealed that Iculi was killed using a pistol and not a sub-machine gun as initially claimed by ASP Luke Owoyesigyire in a Saturday police statement.
The officers yesterday (Sunday) combed the neighbourhood of the attack in search of possible video footage captured by CCTV cameras at private residences in order to help them identify the killer(s) said to have escaped on a motorcycle.
They (detectives) also scoured as far as a kilometre apart for footage because they intended to establish the goings-on at the crime scene before and after the shooting and turned spent cartridges they retrieved from the scene of crime for ballistic analysis to establish if the gun used in the shooting is already finger-printed and belonging to a security agency or one in private possession.
Residents within the area say officers also used sniffer dogs at the crime scene in an effort to trace the shooters and recover material of evidential value, although police declined to divulge what they found.
According to accounts by individuals who identified themselves as witnesses, the unknown assailants waylaid their victim in an isolated area of a fenced neighbourhood on his way home. Iculi is said to have been returning from one of the popular nightspots within the area when the assailants bumped into his car as he was about to enter the gate at his home.
The KMP Deputy PRO, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire yesterday said that detectives were still pursuing various leads he did not disclose, and access to any CCTV footage that captured images of the shooting or fleeing attackers would aid police inquiries.
“If any people [were] within the vicinity where the shooting happened, they should contact the police and share the CCTV camera footage. Our teams are also on [the] ground to see if they can get CCTV camera footage from private individuals,” Owoyesigyire said in a brief interview.
Born Ibrahim Tusubira in 1970, Iculi at the time of his tragic death was the President of the Uganda Bloggers’ Association after winning the last elections held by the body in 2021.
He studied up to Makerere University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce although he later turned painter after going overseas for a Kyeyo in Sweden.
Years later, Iculi returned to Uganda in the run-up to the 2021 elections as a for-hire social media influencer and first retailed as a die-hard supporter of the Bobi Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) party before switching to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) as an influencer for high-flying and often conflicting national politicians and security actors.
The outspoken social media critic had run-ins with the law on allegations of promoting hate speech and offensive communication in his videos. He regularly conducted live-streaming on Facebook, mainly in the morning, and regularly featured in talk shows on television and radio, growing his following by leaps and bounds.
In October 2021, Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court remanded him to prison on allegations of offensive communication against an artiste Mr Emmanual Ssuuna alias Omulangira Ssuuna. He was later released on bail.
Police said his combative and abrasive tonality in his commentary on public and governance affairs and individuals meant he created many enemies, and they were investigating whether he was shot in an act of revenge or for other reasons.
Iculi was buried yesterday (Sunday) at his ancestral home in Nkokonjeru, Buikwe District.
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