Ugandans on Monday retired home with the chilling news of three armed robbers who were gunned down by UPDF soldiers in Bunamwanya, Makindye Sabagabo Municipality, near Kampala. And who were the robbers? Two police officers and their civilian accomplice. One of the officers was attached to the Police Headquarters armoury.
The officers were identified as Constable Ambrose Byareta, Constable Fred Turyomunsi and a civilian only identified as James.
The incident came days after two police officers were arrested in Kampala while extorting Shs250 million from the owner of Kooki Towers, a shopping mall opposite the Central Police Station in Kampala.
The officers had made up a case against the businessman, stating that he buried two bodies in the foundation of his building in a ritual murder. Such crimes are not new in Uganda. Police, as an institution, has always ranked top in most corruption indexes and reports, as one of the most corrupt government body. This is worrying.
Speaking in March 2017, at the home of slain former Assistant Inspector General of Police, Felix Andrew Kaweesi, President Museveni said weavils or criminals had infiltrated the force and other security agencies, which he said had compromised investigations into high profile killings. The president has repeated the same statement on several occasions.
Former Buyende District Police Commander ASP Muhammad Kirumira was gunned down after incessantly crying out loud that some elements in the force were criminals.
Indeed, after sacking former Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura, several senior police commanders, who served in sensitive offices were arrested and are on trial in the military court.
Incidences of Receive and Train, where unfit and disinterested recruits, who have no motivation to join the force end up in the force after avoiding the rigorous physical, security and background checks should be stemmed out by the current leadership of the force without fear or favour.
Any form of rot in the force erodes its image and justice and safety, which are at the core of social, political and economic stability is compromised.
A modern police should not be a sanctuary for people who failed to make it to any private or public sector, to earn a living and serve their nation, end up in the Force because their relatives or political allies enticed them to join the police.
It’s frustrating that while hundreds of professional and committed cops are doing their best to ensure law and order prevails in the country despite appalling work conditions, some of the officers are engaging in acts of criminality.