On Tuesday, a group of shabbily dressed ‘humans’ kidnapped a suspect who had just been granted bail by Nakawa Magistrate’s Court in Kampala.
The spectacle of the kidnap, which the media erroneously referred to as an arrest, was not lost on anyone with a basic interest in Uganda’s security and politics.
Then the denials, accusations and counter-accusations ensued: The police denied involvement. And I hear the UPDF’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence was speaking as if they had water in their mouth and were nursing a perennial stammer.
This kidnap was instructive - particularly because it occurred when the police have issues with the UPDF’s Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI). If the police were still friendly with what they always called sister agencies, they (police) would have acknowledged and claimed the kidnap was an arrest.
Dear reader, do you remember how Gen Kale Kayihura claimed responsibility for the kidnap of Dr Stella Nyanzi? I was more scandalised when he called it an arrest.
Do you also remember that the police claimed they were involved in the Kasese killings? And they even had to weave tall-tales to make a case for the killings?
I gave up on Gen Kayihura when he publicly claimed responsibility for the raid on the Parliamentary Chambers. From that day, I concluded that Gen Kayihura lacked the sophistication and temperament to run or hold that venerable office of the Inspector General of Police of the Uganda Police Force (at least the one created by the Constitution).
Yet I can bet all my inheritance that police were not involved (at operational level) in any of the incidents mentioned above. Poor Kayihura, in spite of himself, was just providing cover for these acts of violence (by other sister agencies) on the citizens of Uganda. He was just shock absorbing the State’s asymmetrical actions.
Without the cover of the police, the so-called sister agencies are now on their own. And Ugandans have to be sacred; very scared. Picture this: Without legally gazetted custodial facilities, where would those arrested by the so-called sister agencies end? The only people to take people to court are the police and we assume the police won’t be co-operating.
Crime is the act of undermining an individual’s life (social, economic, etc,) and resources. Insecurity is caused by an act or a situation that undermines State authority or renders it ineffective or weak.
The police are responsible for fighting crime while civil security agencies (ISO and ESO) are responsible for fighting insecurity. ISO and ESO are charged with the collection of intelligence for the use of frontline actors like the police, UPDF and politicians.
Whereas ISO, ESO and CMI may have better capabilities (like shamelessly kidnapping citizens in broad daylight), the police remain the principal arresting agency of the State. And ‘arrest’ is an administrative function with laid down procedures.
The police’s mode of information sourcing, collection and use is different from that of the security agencies because the principal end user of the ‘information’ collected by the police is the court of law.
And ‘intelligence’ collected by ISO, ESO and CMI may (is more likely to) land on the desk of the CID (police), politician or a diplomat, who would use it to leverage national interests (like fighting crime or during State-to-State engagements).
And because courts do not admit evidence based on information collected through torture, the police are obliged to source dust-free information.
But due to the structural organisation of power in Uganda, we have securitised government and reduced national security to guns… Indeed, the last time (early this year) a gun was pointed at me, it was by an immigration officer.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.