Alongside the mainstream police, Gen Kayihura’s reign in the force saw the creation of militias and para military groups closely associated with the force.
Bodaboda 2010, a notorious gang publicly associated with police, had exercised so much power, including conducting arrests, torturing those opposing Gen Kayihura and the regime. The group, whose leader Abdullah Kitatta is serving a jail term for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, was instrumental in raiding and laying a siege on Makindye Chief Magistrate Court to stop the appearance of Gen Kayihura.
In April 2007, a group dressed in civilian clothes and armed with big sticks emerged from the precincts of Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) to charge at the unarmed demonstrators who were protesting President Museveni’s proposed sale of Mabira Forest to Mehta Group for sugarcane growing. It later emerged the group had their tactical base at the police station.
President Museveni would later commend the Kiboko Squad as courageous patriotic citizens who were fed up with hooliganism engineered by political opportunists. While the police under Gen Kayihura did not own the squad, officially, they did nothing to stop its action or even condemn the same.
The group would continue its work alongside the police, including beating up Kisekka Market vendors, who were protesting the sale of the market to Rhino Investments, among other things.
Other groups associated with the force include the Crime Preventers and Kifeesi. Several calls were made to suspend the Crime Preventers because it was an unregulated, politically biased and with no clear mandate.
Allegations of police torture and mistreatment of suspects by the force under Gen Kayihura is well documented by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Uganda Human Rights Commission and the media.
Between 2012 and 2016, for example, the Uganda Human Rights Commission received more than 1,000 allegations of “police-orchestrated torture”.
The political opposition against the ruling NRM endured the wrath of the police under Gen Kayihura. He applied a carrot and stick approach to the opposition.
Long held allegations that he was compromising some members of the Opposition through bribes, among others were given credence in the famous Kale leaks. It was, however, his no holds barred approach that earned him the name of regime enforcer in chief.
Both individual politicians and political parties suffered his wrath. He laid siege on the offices of the Democratic Party, the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) and very often on those of Forum for Democratic Change(FDC).
In some cases such as UPC, it was supporting one faction of the party against the other, while in the case of FDC, it was reminding the country on who was in charge and getting done what to be done to preserve the status quo.
Politicians such as Dr Kizza Besigye and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago warrant a whole chapter in the Kale play book.
In the numerous riots and protests that rocked the country during Gen Kayihura’s reign, several unarmed civilians were killed by security forces, including the police.
The victims are yet to get justice. For example, more than 40 people were killed by security forces, including the police, during two days of rioting in September 2009. Rights groups and the media, for example, documented a number of such killings.
At least nine people were killed by the police during the April 2011 ‘Walk to Work’ protests against the rising escalating food and fuel prices in the wake of the 2011 elections.
Away from major protests and riots such as Buganda riots, Mabira protests and Walk to Work protests, people were killed by the police in land evictions. A February report by the Makerere University-based Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) documented a total of 133 cases of extrajudicial killings by the police and the military with more than 60 attributed to the police between 2016 and 2018.
The reports also documents cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, illegal arrest and detention, violation of the right to a speedy and fair hearing and the curtailment of the freedom of assembly and association issues that marked Gen Kayihura’s reign in the police and for which he has been indicted by the American government.
Police flying squad
Key personnel in the once notorious Flying Squad cited in Gen Kale’s indictment were arrested and charged alongside him on different charges.
Herbert Muhangi, the former commandant of the Flying Squad Unit of the police, remains behind bars.
In February, a military court granted him a non-cash bail of Shs10m, but he was immediately rearrested by the army.
Others who were either in the Flying Squad Unit or in the mainstream force that were arrested as Gen Kayihura fell include Col Atwooki Ndahura, the former police director of crime intelligence, Nixon Agasirwe, the former Commander Special Operations, Patrick Muramira, the former deputy commandant of Special Operations, Richard Ndaboine, the former deputy commandant of Special Operations, Jonas Ayebaza and Abel Kitagenda Muyomba, both formerly attached to Flying Squad Unit.
Former commandant of the police Professional Standards Unit, ACP Joel Aguma, also remains incarcerated on related charges by the military despite a civilian court ordering for his release and compensation.
The Internal Affairs Minister, Gen (rtd) Jeje Odongo, on September 5, told Parliament that Mr Aguma cannot be released before a comprehensive determination of his charges.
A police warrant of arrest remains in place against Assistant Commissioner of Police Siraje Bakaleke who is still on the run.
Mr Bakaleke was one of Gen Kale’s blue-eyed boys, but his rising star crumbled at the same time as the General’s fortunes dwindled.
Some of the quotes by Kayihura
May 30, 2017: On the then dreaded Nalufenya: “Torture at Nalufenya is not institutionalised; we will deal with those officers (accused of torture).”
September 17, 2014: “There is nothing wrong with the militarisation of the police. People are talking about the militarisation of the police; what of the militarisation of the society? This city is awash with veterans of all kinds, rebel groups of all sorts. So, if there is militarisation of crime; what sort of capability should we use?”
February 24, 2016: “First of all, we wish to state, at the very beginning that the responsibility for the actions that police has taken involving Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye during and after the campaigns lies squarely on his shoulders and that of his unruly and indisciplined supporters. Indeed, contrary to propaganda in the media, in all our actions, police have acted lawfully, professionally, conducted ourselves with utmost restraint in the face of incredible provocation.”
September 16, 2017: “These songs of police this, police that...Kayihura alemeddwa [has failed]. People, okay, Kayihura can be sent to Luzira but I tell you, if you don’t address the problems in society, even if you put [appoint] I don’t know who, [but] whoever you put there, the problems of crime will not be solved.”
June 24, 2015; while blocking former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi from holding consultative meetings for his 2016 presidential bid: “I refer to the letter from the Secretary General of the NRM to me and copied to you, dated June 20, 2015 stating the part position on the matter. From the letter, it is clear that your party has neither sponsored nor endorsed you as an aspirant within the meaning of the NRM constitution and law, and that you have no locus stand to hold public meetings as a prospective Presidential flag bearer of the NRM and/or Presidential aspirant and that your aspirations are illegal.”
On July 14, 2016; after policemen had been caught on camera beating up Dr Besigye’s supporters: “The use of teargas, rubber bullets and of course bullets has been eliminated. The only options remaining for the commander at scene is use of water cannons or baton charge … Because when you are beaten, you don’t die, but also beating in places that will not cause harm,”
A statement he issued on April 1, 2016 explaining why the police had blocked Dr Besigye from leaving his home: “To remind the public, the measures we took (to lock Besigye up at his home) were to closely monitor, and regulate his movements, and those that accessed his residence. We, however, must stress that Rtd Col Kizza Besigye is not, and has not been under house arrest. We had to take the security measures as a precaution…”