Confusion around an arrest

Jean Bigirimana, the Iwacu Press group Journalist, was arrested and abducted in a vehicle on July 22, 2016 by unknown men in Bugarama. The police and the National Intelligence Service wash their hands of the act. Evidence suggests otherwise.

Jean, writing an article

Jean, writing an article

The news came on Friday, July 22 at 4:13 p.m through a call from a female voice. She called Sikuyavuga Leandre, the Iwacu Press Group chief editor, but declined to give her identity. “Your guy has just been kidnapped by people and I do not want to be involved in this case. This is what she told me”, he remembered.

The kidnapping

Alerted, Godeberthe Hakizimana, the wife of Jean Bigirimana, went to Bugarama the next day. The Muramvya criminal investigation police refute the allegations that her husband would be in police custody. She later learned that our colleague was picked up in a vehicle of the National Intelligence Service-SNR to the Muramvya province chief town “People from Bugarama testified this to me,” she said. “They claimed to have seen a slim, black and tall man being shipped off by people who were driving an intelligence service car. The description that these people were giving was exactly my husband’s and no one else was picked up that day,” she said.

On the traces of his last day before his abduction

In Gituro, Kamenge zone, 5.30 a.m, Jean Bigirimana woke up and started preparing. His wife said it was his routine leaving home around 6:30. He arrived at Iwacu Press Group headquarters around 7:00 am and began to read the news on the Internet while waiting for the start of the morning meeting at 8:00. After the editorial meeting, John went to the person in charge of finance for the releasing of the expenses for the mission he had to perform within the country that very day. At 11: 30 am, he announced his departure to settle a “personal matter” and left the Press Group office. Journalists who were with him before his departure found him neither worried nor disturbed. They didn’t know that they were not going to meet him again shortly.

Around 12:00, Jean Bigirimana came home. His wife did not find anything wrong with him when he announced that he was soon rushing off to Bugarama in Muramvya province. “Keep me a light but hot meal that I will take on my return,” Jean said to his wife.

Between 12: 44 and 12: 55; we learned through the messages he sent to Iwacu newsroom that he was at the place commonly known as Gare du Nord (Northern Station) in the northern part of Bujumbura, the capital. He commented on the rise in transport prices from Bujumbura to Bugarama and Gitega. This was to be his last message to the newsroom.

Iwacu investigations

Several grey areas and questions surround the disappearance or abduction of Jean Bigirimana.

Iwacu received the number used by the woman who alerted Leandre Sikuyavuga. It was the voice of a man who picked up the telephone. He refused to give his identity and said he was the seller of telephone credits at Bugarama. Moreover, he denied knowing Jean Bigirimana. But he acknowledged that a woman used his phone to call someone for a minute or two: “She paid me and left.” Iwacu tried to find this young man but to no avail. He refused to give his address and said he lived in a locality difficult to reach.

Grey areas

Who is this woman? Who is this young man? Why does she refuse to give her identity? Why did she say she did not want to be involved in this? What did she see? Why does she qualify this abduction as a business? What are the links between this credits vendor and the lady who contacted Leandre Sikuyavuga? How is it that he can remember accurately the woman six days later when a credit seller is supposed to see dozens of faces a day?

Abel, a notorious guy

According to our sources Ahishakiye Abel, inhabitant of Bukeye commune, called Jean Bigirimana shortly before his abduction. He is a National Intelligence Service informant. Contacted, he first denied knowing our colleague threatening us: “You only die once. To live or not live on this earth is all the same.”

He then passed us on to a certain Nimubona Alexis. Was he used as bait in the trap against Jean Bigirimana.

The Police wash their hands of the act

Pierre Nkurikiye @iwacu

Pierre Nkurikiye: “No security body is involved in this case. “

The police spokesman said on Tuesday, July 26 that no police department was involved in this case. That was the time when the family and colleagues of the journalist recently recruited at Iwacu Press Group, had no news about him since the afternoon of Friday, July 22.

For Pierre Nkurikiye, Jean Bigirimana reportedly arrested by the agents of the National Intelligence Service in Bugarama, was not at all apprehended by the Burundian security forces. “None of these bodies have arrested this journalist.” According to him, the police are not aware of the reasons or motivations behind his arrest or abduction. He stated: “It may be a case of a real kidnapping by criminals or a simulated kidnapping. We have many cases of mock kidnapping whereby Burundi security forces are shouldered the responsibility for.”

The police spokesman declined to comment on the possible abduction by other uncontrolled elements. He only said it would be “difficult to kidnap someone in Bugarama” with the number of security forces deployed in the locality. “We have police, intelligence and even military agents operating in there. No kidnapping can go unnoticed. We interviewed several sources but found nothing. ”


Although the police and the intelligence service in Muramvya confirm not having any clue about this arrest, it was at Kibogoye in the same province where the journalist Jean Bigirimana received the last call. It was just from his colleagues. His voice was hesitant and bizarre. He hardly answered the questions before hanging up.

Why do the police deny being aware of his abduction while witnesses in Bugarama claim to have testified his being taken away?

This is a place where there are many police officers. How can it be that no agent saw anything?
Abel Ahishakiye is a National Intelligence Service informant. Why does this service deny having arrested our colleague while it is obviously aware of each and every detail from day one?

The last element of our investigations converge on the National Intelligence Service. First, people from Bugarama center spoke of the intelligence service vehicle that took the journalist away. Second, there is Abel Ahishakiye resident of Bukeye commune who called Jean Bigirimana shortly before his abduction. Finally, a source close to the National Intelligence Service said a senior officer of this service has confessed that our colleague Jean is still alive and is in the hands of the intelligence services kept in a hidden place.

According to the same source, Jean Bigirimana would be charged with shuttling back and forth to Kigali to conspire against Bujumbura. The person who gave Jean away is his friend. When they came to catch him, they found that he was in the presence of another person who did not seem to be worried. Could she be the woman who called the Iwacu news editor to inform about the abduction of the journalist? According to our source, the person who set the trap against Jean could be Ahishakiye Abel.

A poignant call of Jean’s wife

“My name is Godeberthe. I’m 28, the mother of two children Jean Don Douglas, 8 years and Timmy John Terry, 3 years. For 6 days, we have no news about Jean, my husband and the children’s father. Please, Jean is a good man, a journalist who does his job. He never hurts anyone. I ask those who hold him to release him. We live in fear. Think of me, my family and my children. For the love of God, set Jean free. Thank you and God bless you.”