The Rot at Bul Fc: How Players’ Money is Embezzled

Bul Players pray before kick off

Michael Ntezza and Paul Ampuriire

Believers from all walks of life have already pitched camp in Namugongo, thumb Kampala while others continue to trickle in ahead of the annual 3rd June Martyrs Day celebrations. The day is very instrumental in the Catholic and Anglican faiths to celebrate the 45 martyrs executed between November 1885 and January 1887 in Uganda.

To honor the brave and courageous spirit exemplified by these martyrs, many pilgrims from within Uganda and beyond trek to Namugongo on foot. Over the years, pilgrims from Kenya, Tanzania and other neighboring countries have often risked everything to walk for days, weeks to celebrate the day.

Chimpreports went to Namugongo to understand what these pilgrims’ experiences, what inspired their journeys and what their expectations are this year.

Pilgrims narrate their experiences

Tumwebaze Vincent from Nyakibale Denary (Kabale Diocese) in Rukungiri district together with 82 other Christians walked from Rukungiri to Namugongo. Tumwebaze has been making pilgrimages every year since 1984 together with his wife.

He told us that the group set off on Tuesday 19th and arrived in Kampala after 19 days. The group made stop overs in Ntungamo, Karama, Sanga, Lyantonde, Mbirizi, Saza and Lukaya before arriving in Kampala amidst heavy rains. They found shelter at Catholic parishes in these places and often set off at midnight in 4 divided groups of 20.

Tumwebaze however narrated that not all was smooth on this trek. The group was delayed a bit in Sanga due to some members suffering swollen feet while the elderly women also slowed them down.

On what inspires these daring journeys, Tumwebaze says that religion was first embraced by Ugandan martyrs to an extent of sacrificing their lives. He believes that despite their martyrdom, they still live on and through their faith he gets deliverance.

Christopher Mengick is Kenyan from Eldoret Diocese and this is the 4th time he is walking to Namugongo shrine. He was part of a group of 96 who footed for 3 weeks from Kenya and arrived in Namugongo on 1st June. He told us that lack of peace in Kenya and in the East African region is the reason behind his pilgrimage this year.

His country has suffered a number of tragic attacks orchestrated by terrorists from neighboring Somalia in the recent past. Mengick hopes that God will listen to his intercession for peace and security.

Tanzanian pilgrims have also come in numbers this year. Deogratius Bishubo who is Chairman Laity Bukoba Diocese in Kagera region, Tanzania spoke to Chimpreports. The group he led here came by bus and left Tanzania Monday morning.

He has made 4 pilgrimages so far and he is motivated by the unshaken faith that led the martyrs to die for their religion. Bishubo also borrows the belief that when 2 or more people gather in God’s presence, their prayers are heard.

Pilgrims talk about the healing water

While at Namugongo you can’t help but notice that every pilgrim has a container holding water meant to later be carried back home.

Their testimonies about this water drawn from the Martyr’s lake at Namugongo are however similar. Listening to their tales and experiences, it confirms how holy this water is as well as its healing power.

Tumwebaze told us that he believes this water is blessed therefore if taken whatever one uses it for gets a blessing. He adds that the weapons used to murder the Uganda martyrs were afterwards cleaned in the water. Therefore the water symbolizes their blood.

Teddy Tom Otim from Lira diocese said that the water symbolizes the tears shed by the martyrs while they were being tormented.

Byenkya Leonard a 55 year old father of ten, from Kibale district says he started the trek to Namugongo on Sunday

24th May at 9.40 and his group reached Namugongo on Friday 29th May 2015. On the way he says they were not spared of huddles.

“We set off from Kagadi at exactly 9.40 in a group of fifty people with our leader. We were asked to pay twenty five thousand shillings for our return transport; we had to have fifty thousand in our pockets for our upkeep and at the same time we mobilized five thousand shillings to be used in buying edibles on the way” Byenkya remarked

Byenkya narrates that on their way to Namugongo they used to sleep in only designated churches where they were fed and given first aid treatment for their swollen legs and fatigue.

“I joined the team for people coming to Namugongo after I was told that this was of the ways through which solve my problems, it has not been an easy task because on the way we have been abused and provoked by some people who thought we could give up on our journey but we neglected them”

He added that at the same time there were good hearted people who bought them eats, provided them shelter as well as wishing them well.

“Some people were asking us to pray for them as we headed to Namugongo and it was this fact that we never lost hope and courage to continue our journey day’

“I prepared for this journey three months back. On getting that idea I got a small wooden box where I saved coins until I had the full amount that is required of us. It is my first time to visit Namugongo and I hope my prayers will be

Most of the pilgrims at Namugongo are using mobile money system to receive support from home and they are in constant communication with their family members.

When unpleasant things are said about something or someone, more about there is probably a good reason backing it, as the old maxim goes, where there is smoke there is fire.

And it is on this account that we took time to investigate one of the possible causes of the trouble brewing in Bidco Uganda sponsored Uganda premier league club, Bul Fc.

At the end of the just concluded season, three players; Crespo Asiku, Asuman Bajjampola and Herbert Kakande were chopped off the squad after several reports of alleged involvement in witchcraft as we reported last month. 

The chairman of the team Mr. Silver Alias has been quoted strongly refuting the claims perhaps in a case of salvaging the already tainted image of his administration, “Those are false accusations because no one was chopped because of witchcraft, it was just because the three have underperformed,” Mr. Alias told us through a phone interview a statement that was backed by the club’s media liaison officer, Mr. Joseph Mutaka.

“I only know that they [the three] were sacked because of Poor performance and not witchcraft.”

However several sources that were present in the meeting clearly assured us the real reason why the three were axed- alleged witchcraft.

Asiku was the club joint top scorer [five league goals] together with Militon Kalisa who ironically was voted the best player of the season.

The money scandal

Several players have been complaining about their sign-on fee, salary and allowances being embezzled by the top three officials, infact one of them Mr. Salmin Saleh, the administrative secretary has been mentioned in nearly all cases we have come across and the same is echoed by the CEO of Uganda Football Player’s Association mr. Paul Mutakabala, “I don’t know what is wrong at Bul but I have several complaints about Salmin from players about their money.”

Our sources who are active and former players at the club told us that they [officials] agree a contract with a player but you have to share part of your sign on fee and later they go on and tell the company {Bidco] a different amount which is higher.

“I was signed at a fee [not disclosed] but I had to agree to share my sign on in order to get to the club, later I heard rumours that I was signed at 10Million according to the company which is far more than what I got. But even though the little money we agreed has not been given to me,” One active player at the club informed us.

Asiku Crespo also revealed to us, “The club still owes me 5 million shillings, after all the time I served those the officials haven’t given me my money. I don’t think the company itself knows that I owe them.”

Early this year, Peter Katumba filed a complaint with Fufa players’ status committee decrying failure by Bul to clear his three million shillings balance a case that has since been unresolved by the committee over six months later without clear explanations. “I am still waiting for my case to be cleared by the committee.”

However according to Mr. Mutaka, [Bul media], the club officials are waiting for Fufa so that they ‘act’, ‘we are aware that the player reported the matter to fufa and we are awaiting their response before we present our side.” Efforts of reaching Mr Salmin were futile as every time he receives our call either ‘his phone has no network to hear the other side even though his side is clear’ or he puts it busy.

It remains to be seen what the company will do to save the players.



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