Sunday January 3 2016

Police is acting partisan - former IGP Odwee

Julius Peter Odwee, former deputy Inspector G

Julius Peter Odwee, former deputy Inspector General of Police. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH  

By Bill Oketch

What have you been engaged in since retiring from the police in 2011?
When I retired, I came back home here, I spent here some months.

Then I got a telephone call from Kampala that the director general of Uganda Management Institute (UMI) wanted me; he wanted me to help them in developing capacity at UMI on security-related courses.

I agreed and signed a contract of six months, and then another six months then another six months. I developed courses on security governance. Otherwise my intention of coming home was to expand the opportunity for business for people to get rich from tree farming and other things.

I also found that tourism could be important so I set up Dokolo Tourist Hotel. I’ve been just advising and talking to people to see ahead; how they can develop, how they can become rich, etc.

When and why did you decide to join elective politics?
When I came home, some people asked me to join politics but I told them I was still resting. When I saw many people keep coming, even in the recent past, I decided to plunge into politics because people have put so much trust in me, and I wanted to help solve their problems.

You were presented at the FDC joint candidates rally in Kwera Sub-county in Dokolo this week. As a former deputy Inspector General of Police, Ugandans would ordinarily expect you to stand on the ruling NRM party ticket. It is rather surprising, why did you choose the Opposition and particularly FDC?
Yeah, that is the same question I would have been asked when I was in government, NRM came and found me in government and I walked with NRM. I do not know why people did not ask me why I moved with NRM because NRM found me on the job but now I’ve come out of the job and I am with FDC.
All these people are Ugandans. Nobody should be surprised. If I come into leadership I’m not going to look at the party; I will look at people of Dokolo irrespective of their clan or tribal background, religious background or party background because poverty does not know these things. Poverty knows a person and this is what I’m going to deal with. So nobody should be surprised, nobody should be worried.
Why then did you not stand as the FDC official flag bearer instead of coming as an independent?
I saw that that would make me neutral. I should not cause panic, I should not cause worry. There were some party people who wanted me to be there but I saw that party system also has some problems but I can work with them and any party can take on me. And right now I’ve got a lot of NRM people, I have got FDC, I’ve got UPC who are working with me; who are helping me to mobilise because of the kind of message I’m giving to the community.

What would you say were your key attributes from police that you think can help sell your candidature for the district’s top seat (LC5 chairman)?
A person who is well trained is in a better position to deal with what people want to be done. He has capacity to know what to do, capacity to identify people who should do those things and has a capacity to evaluate the progress. And I think I have that attribute through the training and the practice in the police. I have handled many responsibilities.

In 2010, while announcing the comprehensive review process of the police force, as deputy IGP you said the police needed to be transformed into a credible, democratic and accountable Force. Do you think that has been achieved?

No it has not [been achieved] because when I was leaving, I wrote a letter to Gen [Kale] Kayihura, telling him that after elections we must concentrate on training. The moment we don’t train police there is nothing they are going to do, they will be like lost sheep.
So I think they have been caught up by some other issues. They have not done this. And probably even the syllabus is not appropriate. What I’ve been doing in the Uganda Management Institute could have given police a very big capacity, but I think they have other issues. I’ve not been able to ask them.
But I know they have not properly developed the capacity of the police because I see many police officers are still lacking if compared to what we were doing in the past. For us we have been trained in so many things; trained in criminal investigations, in police command and management, in anti-terrorism, in all these other things but using professional trainers – not people who really have theories, people who have got practice.
This is what I thought should have been done for the police to be professional. Police should be of a higher quality than what I’m seeing now.

We have seen some incidents of election violence in the past few weeks, for instance, when Amama Mbabazi was expected to address a rally here in Dokolo on Monday, police fired teargas and live bullets to disperse the supporters, as a former law enforcement officer, what do you think can be done to check such scenarios?
You know the policy of policing you look at many things, and one of them is peace and peace is not just one side. Peace is two sided and I think that police capitalised on Amama being late; they did not also see the other side that some people would be affected.

Some innocent people who were there on the streets in Dokolo Town were affected. And I think the problem still goes back to training.
As a former deputy IGP, what is your comment on the claim that the Uganda police is partisan in handling election matters and favours the ruling NRM party?
Yeah, I think that they are partisan, because when you look at the case of Ntungamo… the principle of police work is that take everybody the same.

I’m told that some NRM people went and attacked the convoy of Amama Mbabazi, now people started fighting and those people of Amama Mbabazi could not also just simply stand by, they had to return the force.

In the principle of justice, if the police thought that there was an offence, they should have considered it an affray.

An affray is an offence where both sides fight and you take both of them to court, don’t take only one side whether one side has been so much victimised.

You take both of them to court, you don’t chose, you don’t segregate. So I think that gives an impression that police is one-sided.

Some people have expressed concern over the role of crime preventers in this election. Do Ugandans have cause to worry?

I think depending on the category of crime preventers. If they have selected good crime preventers and they’re properly directed they will do an honest job. But a crime preventer who will come on his own or on the directive of an individual to malice the politics of this country that is not a crime preventer. That will be a wrong person altogether.

In Dokolo, I see many of them doing a good work but if they have hidden behind like hyena in a sheep’s skin then that one will also be discovered. We are going to leave no stone unturned.

Lastly, what are your plans for Dokolo?
My plan for Dokolo is that we must work together to get people out of poverty, bring wealth to them. I have got a formula that I will apply to get people of Dokolo out of poverty.
We want them to have strong faith, strong hope and love for this place – Dokolo so that if they’re told to work they should be able to work and they can do a good job. We have planned many things, including economic activities which can generate a lot of wealth.

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