Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Security and legal experts have urged Uganda Police Force not to succumb to President Yoweri Museveni’s call to stop releasing capital offence suspects on bond.
President Museveni has continuously expressed concern with police giving bond to suspected capital offenders. In line with the president’s concern, the Inspector General of Police Martin Ochola, has directed the Police Director of Legal and Human Rights-AIGP Erasmus Twaruhukwa, to meet with Attorney General to discuss a cordial response to the fountain of honour.
Ochola, through the police spokesperson Fred Enanga, says he welcomes a number of reforms being discussed in regard to the Justice, Law and Order Sector –JLOS and promises that his institution will provide the required input needed by the Attorney General’s office.
“Uganda police force welcomes a number of reforms in the judicial sector and we remain committed to working with the office of the Attorney General where our input is required. This is because the safety of the public is most important. We believe the biggest goal is to improve transparency and trust,” Enanga said.
Lawyer Najib Kasule thinks that Museveni is being misled to attack police on releasing suspects on bond. Kasule says police have over the years arrested dozens of people whenever a high profile crime is committed, but most of the suspects are kept in cells for several days and even months without trial.
Citing an example of recent machete killings in greater Masaka where more than 70 suspects were arrested but only a quarter of them were charged in court, Kasule says police will find themselves in a dilemma because their cells will be filled with suspects.
“The president is really out of touch. The police don’t have the resources to investigate cases very fast. If you remove the bond, it will cause piling of suspects in cells. Already there is a backlog for those in prison and they are not being heard. It will increase the violation of suspects’ rights. It will be used as a witch hunt,” says Kasule.
Kasule’s argument resonates with the Masaka killings where only 20 suspects were charged yet more than 70 people had been arrested on allegations of participating in machetes attacks that left close to 30 people killed. Those who were charged over Masaka murders include two MPs Allan Ssewanyana for Makindye West and Muhammad Ssegirinya for Kawempe North.
Similarly, 18 people were arrested over the assassination of Maj Muhammad Kiggundu in 2016, but only eight were charged after spending more than 30 days in police cells, and for the murder of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, police and sister security agencies arrested more than 30 people, many of whom were detained for months without trial.
Grace Matsiko, a security analyst also says the challenge has been on the capacity of police to conclude investigations within 48-hours in order to arraign suspects in court as stipulated in article 23 of the Uganda Constitution.
Matsiko says that Museveni could be having a good intention on why he is against releasing suspects on bond, but he should know that without the capacity to conclude suspects within 48-hours, it becomes a hurdle for police.
Other cases where police arrested several suspects and kept them for days, weeks or months include the murder of Sheikh Hassan Kirya and Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga. At least 11 suspects were apprehended for the two Sheikhs but only six were charged in court. For Busoga Muslim clerics murders, 38 people were arrested but only 10 were charged.
In response to rampant boda boda killings, police arrested three lookalike suspects after a CCTV footage capture at Kekeeka in Mengo where rider Derrick Mulindwa was strangled and his motorcycle taken. The lookalikes spent three weeks in cells until the actual suspects who include Alloysius Tamale aka Youngo Mulo and Mugisha were detained.