By Siraje Lubwama
Twenty years after serving a nine month jail in the US prison, former Kampala mayor Al-hajj Nasser Ntege Sebaggala aka Seya blames his
troubles on former foreign minister late Eria Kategaya, for failing to rescue him from being sentenced.
However, Sebaggala while talking to BBS television progam ‘Singa Gwe
Mulamuzi’ (if you were the judge), said although his imprisonment made him
lose the mayoral position, it helped him to make money and learn how to
win elections easily.
“It is a blessing in disguise to be arrested in US prison because you don’t only get opportunity to be freely educated in the discipline you
choose but you are also paid monthly and most of the money you earn is not easily got outside prison,” said Sebaggala from his Munyonyo
resident in Makindye division.
Eight months after he was elected mayor in 1998, Ssebagala travelled to US for a an international environment conference and was later arrested at JFK International airport on charges involving stolen traveler’s cheques and fake dollars.
He was charged before a New York federal court with six counts of fraud and two of making false declaration, a grand scam he allegedly had engineered to defraud a bank in Boston.
According to court records, the US authorities, discovered that Ssebagala had sent the cheques into the US through DHL, a courier company, and called a woman friend in Boston, asking her to pick and deposit them.
It was then decided that the case be moved to Boston, where the offences had been committed. Later, Sebaggala was put under house arrest.
Kategaya’s Refusal To Help
The judge said Ssebagala and his wife Naava Nabagesera, had appeared untrustworthy during the bail hearing and that since Ssebagala had ties with Uganda’s diplomatic community, there was a chance they could
help him leave before the trial.
Marriane Bowler, the judge, said since the Uganda’s minster for foreign affairs had refused Sebagagala’s request to stand surety for him as a diplomat, she was tempted to jail Ssebagala until trial, but instead
opted for house arrest with some tough conditions.
In addition, he had to deposit another cash bond of $50,000 with the court and an unsecured bond of $950,000 and his passport. He would also at all times wear an electronic bracelet around his ankle.
The bracelet was connected to an alarm system that would alert the Police in case Sebaggala left the house of his arrest. Ssebagala was
moved into the house of one Edmund Narine, a US citizen, who had volunteered to house him.
“Kategaya refused to assist me because I had just defeated NRM in the mayoral race and the trial judge had nothing to do.”
Ssebagala Learns International Politics
With a few people allowed to see him, Sebaggala spent his time
studying an online course in politics from renowned professor Ali Mazrui and Aloysius Rugira, a renowned university lecturer in the US.
Asked about the rampant murders in the country, Sebaggala a presidential advisor to Yoweri Museveni, said the murders are part of the signs of a falling government.
“I have been in politics for long and though I am retiring it is incumbent on me to advise that the rampant murders are part of the signs of a falling government and the president must find a solutions to them, just like land grabbing.”
After six months in on remand the trial
judge found Ssebaggla guilty and sentenced him nine months’ imprisonment.
As the law was and still is , when a Ugandan is sentenced to nine months in jail without an option of a fine, he or she loses his elective
“Although I lost the mayoral position, I came from US prison where I was paid US$900 per month having saved US$6400.
I won the mayoral elections again
and was capable of dislodging Museveni if I was not blocked on academic qualifications,” said Ssebaggala.
He added that his signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the NRM
government enabled Kampala City Council (KCC to acquire government and donor money to develop the city and also saved opposition members who were to be arrested.