The sacking of Gen Kale Kayihura as Inspector of Police by President Museveni after close to 13 years at the helm of the Force has come as little surprise to many.
The President on Sunday replaced Gen Kayihura with Okoth Ochola while Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi will be the deputy IGP. Gen Henry Tumukunde was in a rather surprise move removed from his position as Security minister and replaced with Gen Elly Tumwine.
The country continues to debate about what prompted the President to sack Gen Kayihura, the man he has often trusted and praised despite many crimes committed by police officers under his nose.
In 2016, MPs asked Gen Kayihura to resign following rising cases of stick-wielding goons, who were working with police, and beating up civilians.
Nevertheless, the brutality was not considered as a threat to the President, who instead saw the police chief as safeguarding the President’s power. In fact in 2016, Mr Museveni gave a ringing endorsement to the police chief despite the latter facing criminal court summons over police brutality. “People are attacking Kale (Kayihura), Kale has done a good job; he stopped fujo; because people wanted to bring fujo to disrupt business. If you have fujo, you will not have wealth,” the President told a meeting of the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda at Ntare School in Mbarara District.
This was after Gen Kayihura and seven of his senior officers were sued for alleged torture as individuals by victims of the July 2016 police beatings of civilians at Kalerwe Market in Kampala and Busabala Road on Entebbe Road.
However, inside sources have told PML Daily that the President has been forced to fire Gen Kayihura following the police chief’s failure to deal with incessant crimes in the country, especially the rising spate of killings and kidnappings, which he is said to have been convinced were beginning to compromise national security. The President was reportedly incensed that criminals have begun to perpetrate crime at will, with police unable to thwart their plans.
Sources told this website that failure by police to effectively investigate and bring to book the killers of Susan Magara, the 28-year-old, who was kidnapped nearly a month ago and later killed last week, was a last straw in the camel’s back.
Security sources told PML Daily that the President was angry when it emerged that some police officers were in touch with kidnappers, who demanded a Shs700m ransom from Susan’s parents but still went ahead to end her life.
Magara, a cashier at the Bwendero Dairy Farm, went missing on February 7, 2018 near Mengo in Kampala and he body was discovered three weeks near Kajjansi in Kampala.
The death was one of the many mysterious deaths that have shaken the country under the watch of police. Another recent case is that of Francis Ekalungar, 49, an accountant at Case Hospital in Kampala, who disappeared, was killed and his body burnt beyond recognition last month. After Case reported a case of a missing person, his body was discovered in Kajjansi, a city suburb of Kampala.
Some members of Boda Boda 2010, an association of boda riders with connection to police, were arrested in connection with the murder, among them Huzairu Kiwalabye, the brother of the group patron, Abdullah Kittata. Kittata was also arrested when he attempted to block his brother’s arrest and has since been arraigned before the military court on several charges, including possession of military attire.
Sources say the President began to lose faith in police under the leadership of Gen Kayihura when he ordered Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI) to take over the Ekalungar’s murder case and the arrest of senior police officers in the kidnap of the former body guard of Rwanda president Paul Kagame. Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe and five others were in October 2017 arrested by CMI over illegal extradition of perceived Rwandan dissident refugees from Uganda back home where they faced persecution and prosecution. Mr Mutabazi, a former escort of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was kidnapped in October 2013 from Sky Hotel in Naalya in Kampala and handed over to Rwandan security operatives. In 2014, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Before their arrest, the President had learnt during a security meeting that security operatives from Rwanda had infiltrated the Uganda Police and were kidnapping perceived dissident refugees at will. The President was also informed that some police officers had connived to rob foreign investors of their money.
Mr Museveni was also unhappy that police failed to investigate the mysterious killings in Greater Masaka region. Last year, at least 30 people were killed in similar circumstances and up to 50 others were hospitalised in Lwengo, Rakai, Kalungu and Masaka districts. Police arrested over 100 suspects in connection with these murders although no one has been successfully prosecuted.
Failure by police to get to the root of the mysterious brutal killings of women in and around Entebbe and Wakiso areas was also one of those crimes that soiled the image of police. At least 20 women were killed in a spate of macabre murders that generated fear as some bodies have been recovered with blunt objects like sticks inserted in their private parts.
Fights with Tumukunde
The fights between Gen Kayihura and Gen Tumukunde, the security minister, also reportedly incensed the President, who was concerned that it could undermine national security.
During a high level security meeting at State House Entebbe, the President reportedly asked the duo why they kept their feuds in public instead of resolving them before the National Security Council.
The President’s attention was reportedly drawn to the recent death of foreigners in Kampala hotels, with the police and ISO not coordinating the investigations, among some unconfirmed reports that security operatives were involved in the murder of the Finnish national.
The killing of Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the former police spokesperson, also did not help Gen Kayihura’s fortunes. Mr Kaweesi was in November gunned down by unknown gunmen who were reportedly riding on boda bodas. President Museveni later said criminals had infiltrated the Uganda Police Force and other security agencies, which has compromised investigations into high profile killings.
The President has also been reportedly unhappy with several allegations of corruption against many police officers. Last month, the President is said to have ordered the sacking of senior police officers, including ICT director Amos Ngabirano, over allegations of corruption regarding several procurement deals. Ngabirano has since decided to leave the Force.