IGG officers held at gunpoint in Land Commission offices

Ms Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, ULC chairperson and Ms Beti Kamya, the IGG. Photos | File

What you need to know:

  • The Deputy IGG reportedly called the director of police operations, Mr Edward Ochom, who expressed ignorance about the armed men’s actions.

Hooded armed men raided the Uganda Land Commission headquarters in Kampala City on Tuesday and put officials from the Inspectorate of Government (IG) at gunpoint before they seized an unspecified number of documents and fled the scene through a back door.

The three armed men dressed in police Counter Terrorism Unit uniform made off with unspecified documents, which are part of the evidence, the IGG investigations team had collected from the office of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) chairperson, Ms Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki.

An IG officer said the armed men held them at gunpoint before ordering them to leave the ULC offices.

“We first refused to leave the office. Then one of the armed men said he is going to count from 10 to zero. And if he reaches zero, when we are still in office, we would regret what would happen to us. We decided to leave in the middle of his count,” the officer said.

IG spokesperson Munira Ali confirmed the incident but said they will continue with corruption investigations.

“It is true the incident happened. Our officers were blocked from retrieving documents at the Uganda Land Commission. The chairperson of the Uganda Land Commission wasn’t cooperative with the investigators,” Ms Ali said yesterday.

The Inspector General of Government is investigating allegations of misconduct and abuse of office against Ms Byenkya and the commission’s secretary, Ms Barbarah Imaryo.

Ms Beti Kamya, the IGG, ordered the interdiction of both officials, which was done by the Ministry of Lands, but Ms Byenkya went to court which gave her an injunction preventing her from leaving office.

Multiple sources, who witnessed the incident at ULC headquarters, said the IG investigators arrived with instructions from the Deputy IGG, Ms Anne Twinomugisha Muhairwe, to carry out a search and retrieve documents from Ms Byenkya’s office.  The IG officers went to the ULC undersecretary and introduced themselves and informed him of the purpose of their visit.

The source said the ULC undersecretary, in company of a police officer guarding ULC offices, took them to Ms Byenkya, whom they also briefed about the purpose of the visit.

The IG officers said they started searching her office, but a few minutes later, Ms Byenkya allegedly said she had an errand that wouldn’t allow her to witness their actions.

Ms Byenkya was reportedly allowed to leave as the IG officers continued their search.  “One hour into the search, she returned. She stayed for a few minutes and then left again,” a source said.

The officers said two hours into the search, three armed and hooded men dressed in Counter Terrorism Police Uniform and bulletproof vests raided the office.

One of the IG officers, who was part of the search team, told Daily Monitor that they introduced themselves to the armed men and also informed them about their duties.

“They listened to us, but they refused to allow us to do our work. They told us that they have instructions from the ULC chairperson for us to leave the offices immediately,” the IG officer said.

Daily Monitor was unable to get a comment from Ms Byenkya on whether the armed personnel were acting on her instructions or not.

When Daily Monitor called her on phone, a voice auto reply said she would call back. However by press time, she hadn’t .

The IGG officer said during the exchange, one of his colleagues was able to reach out to their superiors for help.

Police response

The Deputy IGG reportedly called the director of police operations, Mr Edward Ochom, who expressed ignorance about the armed men’s actions.

Mr Ochom promised to send police officers to rescue them and also arrest the suspected errant armed officers.

“After a while, the police reinforcement team arrived at Uganda Land Commission, but the armed men had left. We were able to go back to the chairperson’s office only to find that the documents that we had collected and put on the table were taken. The men also tampered with other documentary evidence. We noted everything and continued with the search,” the officer said.

Ms Ali said although there was obstruction of their officers while doing their official duties, they are right now focused on the investigations rather than the latest incident.

Efforts to get a comment from the police spokesperson Fred Enanga on whether armed men dressed in police uniform were their personnel or not were futile by press time. 

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