A UPDF soldier and two police officers are among the 22 suspects being charged in the court martial over crimes relating to the recent attacks on police stations and security personnel, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has reported.
A UPDF soldier was arrested over the November 17 attack on a minor gate at Gaddafi barracks in Jinja. A soldeir was killed and a gun taken in the attack.
The officer-in-charge of criminal investigations at Bungoko in Mbale from where two guns were on November 24 stolen, in an attack labeled as “an inside job” is also in custody.
The second officer was attached to Sanga/Kiruhura Police Post, where on November 27, they alleged faked a break-in and theft of a rifle, which was dropped in the compound.
These are some of the details of the attacks that have in the recent past created an air of insecurity in the country revealed to Members of Parliament by Gen David Muhoozi, the State minister for Internal Affairs on the floor yesterday. He was responding to a question raised by Kalungu West legislator Joseph Ssewungu.
The attacks have further been attributed to laxity in the security forces.
“Most, if not all the incidents, could have been prevented or thwarted but for some lapses which we are addressing, including laxity and rouge behaviour by some of own elements in some of these incidents,” Gen Muhoozi said.
Thirteen attacks have been reported to have occurred in a period of 12 months, claiming lives and weapons were stolen
Two UPDF soldiers; Sgt Simon Peter Eyagu, and Pte Obed Tufeyo, and nine police officers - Cpl Alfied Okech, Cpl Francis Nsubuga, SPC Paul Moses Ddimba, PC Busingye, PC Lawrence Otim, D/IP Alex Wagaluka, PC Moses Ongol, and PC Stephen Ondama were killed in the attacks.
Of the 15 guns stolen in the attacks, the whereabouts of the six remain unknown. Security operatives also recovered another firearm from assailants during the attack in Nakeseke.
Government has linked the attacks to rebel activity.
“According to available intelligence, the motives for these actions are acquisition of arms for subversive activities, as well as for other criminal ends other than subversion,” Gen Muhoozi said.
He further reported that three assailants have been killed.
Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the Opposition Chief Whip, questioned what he termed as extra-judicial killing of suspects.
“Why is it a practice to put out of action those who are arrested, for example the case of Amber Court [Gaddafi barracks attack], they would have availed information. Why has it become a practice?” he asked.
Gen Muhoozi retorted that those killed often engaged in hostile exchanges with security personnel.
“This depends. I wouldn’t make an omnibus generalisation. Some of these have been due to hostility,” he said.
Mr Ssewungu questioned if the merger and closure of some police stations was the most appropriate response.
Early this month, police commenced a merging process termed as tactical arrangement to reinforce vulnerable stations, as attacks increased. Gen Muhoozi reiterated this stand.
Kanyum MP Simon Okwalinga tasked the government to establish and address the underlying causes of the attacks.
An assertion by Ms Rosemary Nyakikorongo, the chairperson of Parliament’s Defence Committee for government to look into veterans’ affairs, whom she argued could be disgruntled was dismissed by Gen Muhoozi, who said none of the arrested is a veteran.
Ms Christine Ndiwalana, the Bukomansimbi North MP, asked for improved training of police officers.
Gen Muhoozi said they have taken numerous steps to prevent future attacks, including enhancement of firearms safety, better organisation of security installations, community mobilisation through community policing to ensure public consciousness and vigilance, among others.