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Police seal off the crime scene where former Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga and his bodyguard Saidi Buga Kongo were gunned down in Kawanda, Wakiso District, in July 2018. PHOTO/FILE

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Hunter hunted as Auditor General pins police over unsolved cases

What you need to know:

  • At least 291,060 cases—which represents 65 percent of the uninvestigated cases—have remained pending for three or more years.

Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) has failed to investigate 445,976 cases recorded with the Crime Registration Bureau (CRB) over the last couple of years.

According to the Auditor General’s (AG) report for the financial year ended June 2020, 291,060 cases—which represents 65 percent of the uninvestigated cases—have remained pending for three or more years.

“I assessed the progress on the investigation of crime by the Uganda Police Force and noted that the entity had only completed investigations for 331,584 (40.7 percent) cases, leaving a backlog of 445,976 cases,” the report reads in part.

Last month, while handing over office after an 11-year tour of duty as CID director, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Grace Akullo listed a number of high-profile murder and corruption cases that the CID cracked under her supervision. 

She listed the arrest and conviction of those who were responsible for the July 2010 bomb blasts at Lugogo and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, Kampala, that claimed 79 lives; the conviction of Jackie Uwera Nsenga for the 2015 murder of her husband Juvenal Nsenga; investigations and arrest of suspects in the death of former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, and the conviction of suspects in the murder of businessman Eriya Ssebunya, alias Kasiwukira, among others.

Unsolved murders
Ms Akullo expressed regret that she was leaving CID before some high-profile murders had been cracked
She, however, hastened to add that investigations were ongoing.

In 2017, this publication quoted Mr Felix Ndyomugyenyi —the police deputy director for human resource at the time—saying that less than 100 out of the 4,500 homicide cases that had been registered between 2013 and 2017, had been closed.

The number could have more than doubled since then and the number of murder cases—some of them very high-profile, which the police has failed to investigate or close—has been a major talking point over the last several years. These include the February 2020 killing of Sheikh Mutumba; the September 2018 killing of former Buyende District Police Commander Mohammad Kirumira and his friend, Resty Nalinya; the July 2018 killing of former Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga and his bodyguard Saidi Buga Kongo; the February 2018 killing of Susan Magara and the March 2017 killing of the former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi, among others.

The CID spokesperson, Mr Charles Twine, declined to discuss the contents of the report. He instead appeared to question the competence of the office of the Auditor General when it comes to evaluating the police’s work.
“What does the Auditor General have to do with a backlog of cases? The AG does not look at the quality assurance of investigations,” he told Saturday Monitor.

Former Inspector General of Police Julius Odwe, currently working as a senior consultant on security and governance, attributes the backlog of uninvestigated cases to failure by the Force to respond to crime reports in good time.

“My 16 years of experience in CID [teaches one] that investigations should be graded with fast tracking that starts from any point of criminal contamination—the victim, suspect, witnesses, scene-of-crime, exhibits, use of dogs, the eye bold intelligence and even hearsay. Without shielding the CID, all public institutions record failures, but the failures must be corrected in good time,” Mr Odwe told Saturday Monitor.

Inadequate manpower and funding

A senior police officer at the level of an AIGP, who talked to Saturday Monitor on condition of anonymity, disagreed with Mr Odwe. 

The officer said the Force’s challenges are well known and have been documented in several crime reports. 
The Police Crime Report for 2018, for instance, lists, among others, inadequate financing and lack of manpower as some of the causes of the case backlog.

“The current strength of CID personnel is only 5,292 instead of the approved 19,843, leading to work overload,” the report reads in part.

The report further points out that whereas the United Nations puts the ratio of investigators to cases at one for every 12 cases per year, the number of available detectives means each detective handles at least 45 cases per year, while detectives in Kampala Metropolitan area handle anywhere between 50 and 70 cases.

On January 18, Mr Aggrey Wwunyi, the secretary of the Police Authority, appealed to members of the parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs to cause an upward review of the police budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023. 

He held that allocations to the Force were not helping it cope with the level of investigations required to wipe out crime.

“The CID requires Shs2.1m on average to investigate a capital offence. This means of the 40,000 capital offences, CID requires an average Shs84b to facilitate quality investigations,” Mr Wwunyi told MPs.

The senior officer says besides lack of finances, the CID has failed to replicate a crime information management system. The CID has also pulled up short on when it comes to case conferencing.

“The crime information management system would help you know who is investigating which case, how long an officer has stayed on it and what is required. So it would be very easy to monitor and keep track of these investigations and demand answers as to why a detective has many more cases he is working on compared to his colleagues,” the officer said.

Other issues in the report

The report also illuminated deficits in the police’s canine services, saying they only covers 68 out of the country’s 157 policing districts (43 percent). 

It also points out that this is affecting the extent of canine-related investigations and service delivery in the areas not yet covered.

Other queries raised in the Auditor General’s report include lack of a budget to facilitate the maintenance of closed circuit televisions (CCTV) cameras.

“Although Uganda Police has completed Phase 1 and 2 of the project for the installation of CCTV cameras, I observed that the Force does not have a budget for the maintenance of the installed camera infrastructure,” the report states.

It also raised issues with the police’s failure to collect Shs29.98b that it should have collected from express penalty tickets issued between the financial years 2015/2016 and 2020/2021. 

The report points out that whereas tickets worth Shs120.8b had been issued, only Shs90b had been collected.