Soldiers who have headed Uganda Police since 1959

What you need to know:

  • Changes. Early last month President Museveni made changes in the police, appointing a career policeman to head the Force after close to 17 years, however, with an army officer as his deputy.

Early last month, President Museveni dropped long serving Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura in a reshuffle that also saw Security minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde relieved of his duties.
Although Mr Museveni replaced Gen Kayihura with Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, a career policeman, the President placed Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi, a serving army officer, as Mr Ochola’s deputy.
And just before Gen Kayihura, another army general, Katumba Wamala, headed the Uganda Police Force. But as this article will reveal, placing army men to lead the Uganda Police has not been unique to only the NRM regime.

In the 1960s, the post of Inspector General of Police (IGP) was created. The office was established in 1964 by an Act of Parliament. Since the establishment of the Uganda Police in 1906, the highest office in the Force had always been Commissioner of Police.
Before 1964, the top police ranks were held by British ex-servicemen. While the Commissioner of Police (CP) was often a trained police officer, his deputy and other immediate juniors were usually ex-servicemen.
For example, at independence the IGP was John Michael Macoun, an Oxford alumni and a British-trainer police officer. He was deputised by three ex-servicemen.
Before Macoun was transferred to Uganda in 1959 as CP, he had been the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police of Tanzania. He started his career in the police in 1939 as a cadet officer and rose through ranks.

Ex-serviceman head police academy
British ex-serviceman John Anthony Beaden was in 1951 recommended by the British government to join the Uganda Police. During World War II, between 1939 and 1945, he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom.
By 1960, Beaden was at the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and by end of 1962 he was the commanding officer at the Uganda Police Training School, Kibuli in Kampala.
Other British ex-servicemen who were recommended to join the Uganda Police were Lt Col Bentley Watson James who served in the British Royal Army (RA) during the World War II.
James joined the Uganda Police in 1946 and by 1949 he was at the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Buganda.
William Benjamin Humphrey, who served in the British Royal Armoured Corps during the World War II, was another ex-serviceman who was recommended to serve in the Uganda police after he had retired from the army in 1946. In 1958, he was at the rank of SSP Regional Police Headquarters in Kampala.
Another Irish ex-serviceman William Henry Charles, who was in the British Army between 1939 and 1946 and also served in the East Africa Artillery Regiment, joined the Uganda Police upon retirement from the army in 1946. By 1963, he was at the rank of SSP in the Uganda Police.

First Ugandan IGP
Lt Col Wilson Erinayo Oryema, Uganda’s first IGP, was an ex-serviceman. While it has been written that he was moved from the Kings’ African Rifles (KAR) to Uganda Police, Oryema first served in the Uganda Police before joining the KAR. He later returned to Uganda Police after World War II.
Born in 1917 in Gulu District, Oryema was a trained teacher with a certificate in education. In 1939, he joined Uganda Police, but when World War II broke out that year he was recruited into the KAR by the colonial government in Uganda.
Who is Who in East Africa, an annual book that profiled the most influential people in East Africa, says after the war in 1945, Oryema was recommended to re-join the Uganda Police.
Between 1951 and 1958, Oryema completed several police courses in the United Kingdom that saw him rise quickly in the Force.
Towards the end of 1962, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police and was appointed Deputy Inspector General of Police, deputising John Macoun.
After the June 1964 Armed Forces Act passed by Parliament that saw the British leave the Ugandan armed forces, Oryema was appointed Inspector General of Police and given the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel, which was influenced by Milton Obote, then prime minister and later president of Uganda.
Oryema was IGP from 1964 to 1971, and when Obote was ousted by former army commander Idi Amin, Oryema was made minister and later murdered in February 1977 in Kampala.

Museveni returns soldiers to police
On April 20, 2001, President Museveni appointed Gen Edward Katumba Wamala IGP, replacing John Kisembo.
Museveni reintroduced army officers in the police leadership which was last done by the colonialists and Uganda’s post-independence government then led by prime minister Milton Obote. Since 1986, the Uganda Police was perceived by the NRA to be a Uganda People Congress-created institution. So it needed a rebirth.
By the late 1990s, the image of the Uganda Police had been so much soiled that it was characterised by corruption, extrajudicial killings and extortion, among other crimes.
In 1999, President Museveni instituted a commission of inquiry into the police, chaired by Justice Julia Sebutinde. In her report, Sebutinde recommended overhauling of the police in order to clean up the Force.
While Chris Bakiza, the Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) boss and a few others officers were relieved of their duties, not much was implemented as recommended by the report.
Then IGP John Kisembo was also later dropped. This was after the highly contested February 2001 general election in which retired Col Dr Kizza Besigye posed the first real threat to Mr Museveni’s presidency.
The police is believed not to have done enough to contain Dr Besigye and thus the militarisation of police started. In the aftermath, President Museveni appointed Lt Gen Katumba Wamala, replacing Kisembo.
Unfortunately, Katumba left before he could be tested in a campaign season. But human rights groups threatened to sue him when in 2002 he issued the kukuba kunyama (shot-to-kill) order of all armed robbers. Nonetheless, it curbed armed robbery, especially in Kampala.

Katumba out, enter Kayihura
The reasons for Kale Kayihura’s appointment as IGP were not any different from that of Gen Katumba. Kayihura was brought in when the political temperatures were getting to the boiling point.
Kayihura succeeded Gen Katumba as IGP in 2005 just after Besigye returned from exile in South Africa. And Gen Kayihura’s 12-year legacy will be largely be remembered for his containment of the Opposition.
His downfall in early March 2018 after loyally serving his master for close to 13 years came amidst increased crime rates around the country and his alleged feud with Security minister Tumukunde.
Kayihura was replaced by his former deputy Okoth-Ochola, who is now deputised by Brig Muzeyi, a serving army officer.