Odwe: For how long will Museveni watch police collapse before acting?

Monday February 19 2018

Speaks out. Mr Julius Odwe, retired Deputy

Speaks out. Mr Julius Odwe, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police. FILE PHOTO 

By Isaac Mufumba

As a person looking at the Uganda Police Force from the outside, are things falling apart in the institution?
Things fell apart long ago, not just what you are seeing today. Why should the Inspector General claim that the police is rotting from the bottom and not the head? There are very many junior police officers and senior ones who fell long ago in form of desertion, katebe, irregular deployment and deploying people who know nothing about police.

We recently had a survey, based on the police’s own reports, that revealed that more than 50 police officers have either been arrested or implicated in thefts and robberies in less than six months. What picture does this paint of a Force that is supposed to protect life and property?
If that is the case then it confirms what I have said above. Why should police officers be routinely committing crimes? It means the same thing which HE the President said in March 2017 when the late [AIGP Andrew Felix] Kaweesi was killed. That thugs are in the police and this has been proven true by such a number of cases which police is publishing.

Indeed after Kaweesi was killed, President Museveni asked the Inspector General of Police to “clean his house” of criminals. How do you think the IGP has performed so far in that regard?
Mr Kayihura cannot do what the President has directed because it is now about a year. How can such a serious assignment remain pending for that long yet it is a matter of national security? It is also not fair for the President to say that and keep quiet as if he is not the appointing authority.

I worked with eight IGPs in the 30 years of my career. Apart from Boniface Aron-Okoth-Ogola and Luke Kerchan Ofungi who served under other regimes, the other seven were removed from offices on the grounds which you cannot compare with what the Ugandans are witnessing today.
David Chevad Psomgen, Apollo Naris Byekwaso and John Kisembo were dismissed on minor matters, other than John Cossy Odomel who was discharged on allegations of insider trading. David Chevad Psomgen, along with one of his deputies Keneth Ojoro, were removed at the time of a student death at Makerere University during a strike.

Mr Ojoro in the first place was not on the firing line of that duty, and he had to go. We know everything about the coming and going away of Gen Edward Katumba Wamala whose departure was like a transfer. For how long is the President waiting to see the police collapse before evoking the corrective measures?

We have in the recent past seen the army carry out arrests that would have ordinarily been done by the police. And the question many Ugandans have is; have the army taken over police work?
Both the army and police are security institutions of Uganda who in some cases work together. But in this case, if the President asked police to clean its house and they cannot do due to some reasons, the army or intelligence organisations can deal with the overlap which is seen out of the police carpet. The cases for police would be then resolved by the army working with the police for prosecution.

Speaking of the army and police, there is a perception in the public of an existing inter-agency rivalry. What does this mean for the ordinary Ugandan if true?
I don’t know about the rivalry between the said institutions. When I was still in service, there could be issues of conflict of operational procedures. If any, when they came up they were resolved between the chiefs and any excess would be brought before the national security committee. Unless the matter is personal.

Recently embattled Buyende DPC Kirumira went out on social media to express his dissatisfaction with the Force. He makes serious allegations that touch on the core of crime patronage in the police. To cure this ill, he suggests an overhaul of the police leadership. What do you make of his suggestions?
The overhaul of police without a strategic purpose is nothing. Unfortunately, some of our leaders have lost the meaning of strategic purpose or what is termed politically as the fundamental change.

The strategic purpose or a fundamental change has continued to be a challenge. An example is the police institution. When UNLA came from exile in 1979 they claimed that there was dead wood in the police. No real overhaul was conducted; instead what I witnessed was that all those dismissed by Idi Amin were recalled back to service.

Again when NRA came out to govern Uganda in 1986, the first institution of alleged public outcry was police who were levelled mpingamisi. Under that label thousands of police were overhauled and out of about 12,000, only about 5,000 was retained, including myself. It took government a long time to build the police to the status which the current IGP found in 2005.

Gen Kayihura is the second army officer to head the police. What do you think a career policeman could have done differently?
A career police officer would have been the best to lead the police. Even if that officer would exhibit weakness like any person, that officer will have grown through the system and would be in his mind a state of competency which has been developed and continue to be developed through modelling, mentoring, monitoring, motivating, multiplying and sustaining the kind of competency to be transferred or valued for takeover of leadership. The army officers in the police cannot model police leaders. A lion models a lion. A police officer models a police officer. And an army officer models an army officer.

Julius Odwe’s take on Key issues
On how army, police work
Uganda has a National Security Act with committees at all levels; at the sub-county, district and ministry where the President has delegated the Minister of Internal affairs to chair. If there are cracks in the security teams, the national committee addresses the challenge. The membership includes minister of Defence, minister of Security, minister of Internal Affairs and all the security chiefs all of whom would automatically resolve or amend any problem while in that meeting which is held every week.

Compare the police Force of the time you joined and today’s
I am a witness of the roles played by the past seven IGPs and also to that of Gen Kayihura. The other IGPs understood the police rules of work, requirements of discipline, among all personnel and they knew the need for accountability much more than what is currently obtaining.

What has Gen Kale Kayihura done well?
Gen Kayihura is a human being who is capable of doing good things and also capable of doing bad things. Rising to the rank of Brigadier when he was in the army means he must have done something well in the army. Both the police and army operate to the fulfilment of security, but the police has more to do with the general public law enforcement, law and order, criminal intelligence and criminal justice.