Graft fight tops Akullo’s 10-year reign as CID boss

Ms Grace Akullo.  PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • On January 25, President Museveni replaced AIGP Grace Akullo with Maj Tom Magambo as CID director. 

When Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Grace Akullo was appointed director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in November 2011, there was rumbling at the police headquarters.
Ms Akullo was the youngest among the team of top detectives she was going to lead. She was an outsider in the CID since she had never worked at the headquarters or at the regional or department level like many officers who had led the directorate before. 
She was female in a directorate that was 97 percent male-dominated. It was also barely two weeks after the President had promoted her to the rank of AIGP.
She was replacing AIGP Edward Ochom, who had great experience in investigations and had raised the bar too high for the position of the director of CID.
All odds seemed to be against her.
Ms Akullo has weathered the storm without a corruption scandal or indiscipline case against her for 10 years and two months, becoming the longest-serving director of CID in Uganda’s history. 
On January 25, President Museveni replaced her with Maj Tom Magambo.

CID in the police Force
For more than 100 years since the Uganda Police Force (UPF) was established, the CID has been its backbone, but a pitfall for senior police officers.
The report of the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in UPF in 2000, found out that the CID had decayed and had become a money-making venture for detectives. 
The report led to the sacking of top CID leadership. Even after 10 years of transformation, the CID’s efficiency remained a challenge. 
In 2010, former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura, described the CID as the sick man of the Force. 
The CID lacked nearly everything. 
The entire CID had only 23 vehicles and 23 motorcycles in the entire country. Outside the CID headquarters, only one police station had a vehicle for operation and it was based at Kampala Metropolitan Police for the head of investigation. 
The CID strength was only 4,428 personnel and each detective investigated at least 50 cases a year against 12 that are recommended in the policing standards.
Despite gender equality standards in the country set at a minimum of 30 percent, CID had only six percent female detectives in the entire country. Some police stations didn’t have female officers to handle gender-based cases.  
Ms Akullo said it was a tough moment. 
“I had a motor accident a year ago when I was going to lecture at Police Training School, Masindi, and I was still nursing injuries when I was appointed CID director,” Ms Akullo said.
The first major case that she started with, was the July 11, 2010 bombings in Kampala City that left 77 people dead.
Ms Akullo had been recalled from sick leave by the then IGP Gen Kayihura to take over the case, which had hit a snag. The terror case ended with a conviction. 
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo, in an interview with the Daily Monitor last week, said Ms Akullo, then acting assistant DPP Joan Kagezi (RIP), and herself burnt the midnight candle to get evidence and line up witnesses. 
“The meetings would drag on until late in the night. She and Kagezi knew the dangers they were faced with. They would not sleep in their homes because of that case. Grace, one time told us that she had to cover her head whenever she moved in public so as to disguise herself,” Justice Abodo said.
The case was a lesson to many detectives. 
It was the first time the CID used reconstruction of a scene where the suspect takes you back to the places where the crime was committed and shows detectives how he or she did. That scene reconstruction process has since been used numerous times and has helped to secure convictions. 
Justice Abodo said Ms Akullo also led an investigation into the Local Government ministry bicycles procurement scandal and later got a conviction, which energised them to pursue other corruption cases. 
Ms Abodo said Ms Akullo demonstrated good leadership when it came to the pension scam investigations. 
“It was a huge case. At that time, I was at the Anti-Corruption Court, it was the first time ever to get a case that involved such amounts of money. We had 6,000 documents,” she said. 
After one year in court, the Shs88.2 billion case was dismissed. 
It is alleged that some of the suspects in the pension scandal attempted to bribe Ms Akullo to abandon the case, but she declined their offer.  
Ms Akullo and her team had to investigate it again. Five case files were created and later secured conviction.
Unlike in previous cases, Ms Akullo had to deal with new evidence where suspects used electronic means to steal money. 
“We had to send evidence to South Africa for analysis. It was in that case that Uganda decided to establish its own computer analysis laboratory at Uganda Revenue Authority, which is now used for crime investigations,” Justice Abodo said.
“It was a success. Prosecution can’t do it alone. Grace was instrumental because she was the main investigator,” Justice Abodo said. 
Ms Akullo then turned to the corrupt officers in the Office of the Prime Minister Despite pressure from different angles, several officers were convicted and billions of shilling of government money recovered.
She didn’t spare ministers in her investigations and summoned and quizzed them. 
Ministers, Members of Parliament and senior government officials were quizzed in cases such as the Katosi-Nyenga Road scandal, government compensation of Shs142b to city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba, and OPM and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation land. 

Many suspects in her case either resigned their jobs or were sacked by the appointing authority or refunded public funds.
Ms Lucy Ladira, a technical advisor at the Justice, Law and Order Sector, said Ms Akullo was very aggressive when it came to resource mobilisation and training for the CID. 
“Under her stewardship, the CID headquarters was renovated and the training school is now fully functional. The short-term gain has been by way of enabling more training courses and ensuring that a cross section of facilitators are available,” Ms Ladira said. 
As she leaves CID, the directorate now has more than 300 vehicles. The gender equality has improved to around 26 percent for female officers. The CID strength has reached 6,000 personnel.

About Grace Akullo
Ms Akullo is the only female Assistant Inspector of General of Police. 
Ms Akullo, an accountant by profession, joined police in 2001 as a cadet officer. 
She became popular when she was the officer in-charge of CID at Old Kampala Police Station after investigating violent criminals.
President Museveni noticed her and appointed her on a committee that investigated corruption in the Gavi/Global Fund that saw high-profile people, including then ministers of Health Mike Mukula and Mr Muhwezi prosecuted in court, but they were later acquitted.

In 2010, she was the second commander of Special Investigations Unit that investigated corruption and fraud in Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, government ministries and even private banks.
In November 2011, she was appointed the director of CID. She is the second female officer to head CID in police history after AIGP Elizabeth Kuteesa.