Police, Byenkya speak out on IGG search at ULC office

The chairperson of Uganda Land Commission, Ms  Beatrice Byenkya, during a press conference in Kampala on January 4.    Photo / Isaac Kasamani

What you need to know:

  • While Ms Byenkya denies instructing her security detail to obstruct IGG officers, police say the Ombudsman’s officers were stretching the search to offices that hadn’t been specified in the search warrant. 

The police and the chairperson of Uganda Land Commission, Ms Beatrice Byenkya, have spoken out on the drama that happened when hooded armed men in Counter-Terrorism uniform,  raided the Uganda Land Commission offices and blocked the Inspectorate of Government personnel from cobducting a search.

Ms Byenkya yesterday denied instructing her security details to obstruct IGG officials, saying she only heard about the altercation when out of office.

But  police spokesperson Fred Enanga said their officers blocked the IG officers because they were stretching the search to offices that hadn’t been specified in the search warrant.

“…their officers went for a search, with a search warrant in the office of the chairperson, whom they found and commenced their search though in her absence. Midway through their search, they stretched to other offices that were not specified by the warrant, which prompted the security to intervene and ordered them to stop,” Commissioner of Police Enanga said yesterday.

The search stemmed from the IGG investigations into allegations of misconduct and abuse of office against Ms  Byenkya and the secretary, Ms Barbarah Imaryo.  After the commencement of the investigations, Ms Beti Kamya, the Inspector General of Government, ordered the interdiction of both officials, which was done by the Ministry of Lands, but Ms Byenkya ran to court which gave her a court injunction keeping her office.

Sources account

Sources from the IGG team, who carried out a search at ULC on Tuesday, said they were put at gunpoint by hooded armed men and ordered to leave the offices, an allegation police deny.

“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 shall regret what will happen to us. We decided to leave in the middle of his count,” the IGG officer said.

But Mr Enanga said: “The narrative of drawing guns and threats to the IGG officials isn’t true, because even the IGG’s staff had come with their own police as is the procedure.”

Mr Enanga said after their security personnel blocked the IGG team from searching offices that were not specified in the search warrant, the Deputy IGG reached out to police headquarters and a senior officer guided them on the way forward.

“The search was resumed, and documents to the officers’ interest were retrieved and taken in the presence of the Under Secretary of Uganda Land Commission and the accountant,” he said.

He said the incident between IGG officers and their policemen couldn’t have arisen if the former had informed the territorial police commanders about their operations.

“Search warrants or any other operations, especially from sister investigative offices must be brought to the attention of the territorial commanders, especially the district police commander (DPC), to avoid such incidents. This is a serious safety measure that even we CID detectives and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence follow religiously. The DPC of Central Police Station Kampala wasn’t aware of this. This was a serious omission that colleagues should follow,” Mr Enanga said. 

Missing documents

The IGG investigator, told  Daily Monitor newspaper, by the time they were allowed in the offices, some of the documents they had come to retrieve had been taken away.

Ms Byenkya in an interview with Daily Monitor’s sister media house, NTV Uganda, yesterday explained what transpired on Tuesday, distancing herself from attempts to block investigations.

 She insisted that she was still the chairperson of the Commission and promised that an appropriate time she would provide more details about some of the files IGG team wanted. 

 She said the IGG officers went away with two files on  Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School and government land in Kajjansi on Entebbe Road. (see  details in her verbatim below)