Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Immediately after assuming office in March 2018, the incumbent Inspector of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola disbanded the dreaded Flying Squad Unit– FSU for among other reasons tainting the image of the police force.
The Unit that was under the Command of Assistant Commissioner of Police –ACP, Herbert Muhangi was being accused of torturing suspects at its headquarters at Kampala Central Police Station –CPS and Nalufenya in Jinja District that was being used as a detention facility for high profile suspects.
FSU was specifically created by the former IGP, Gen Edward Kale Kayihura to fight violent crime such as kidnaps, armed robberies and murders. However, the Unit came under spotlight when officers were implicated for extortion, robbery and torture.
Some of the victims who were tortured by FSU operatives under the command of Muhangi included Charles Muhangi, who was tortured and maimed at CPS, Kamwenge Town Council LC III Chairperson, Godfrey Byamukama and Ahmed Ssenfuka among others who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder of former Police Spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
In August 2018, Ochola revamped the Flying Squad Unit –FSU and placed it under the direct supervision of the Criminal Investigations Directorate –CID led by AIGP Grace Akullo. He directed the CID to screen the personnel in the unit, which saw 40 out of 120 personnel dropped.
After the screening exercise, Ochola allowed the unit to resume operations under the command of Senior Superintendent of Police –SSP, Peter Kakonge. He later appointed SSP Godwin Tugume to command the unit. According to records from the Criminal Investigations Directorate over the past two years, the Flying Squad has helped CID to arrest 248 suspects involved in cases of murder, robbery and kidnap.
“A lot of reforms have been taken including screening, creation of other detaches and plans are underway to have Flying Squad units introduced in all Police Stations, Divisions and Regions,” Akullo states in his latest report. According to the statistics, the Flying Squad Unit handled 24 murder cases in 2019, 19 kidnaps, 20 aggravated robberies and recovered twelve firearms.
As a support unit for police operations and investigations by the end of 2018, Flying Squad had handled 67 cases leading to 75 arrests, recovery of 12 guns and 167 bullets. One of the major criminal syndicate Flying Squad is applauded for dismantling last year was the Young Mulo’s criminal gang that had killed more than 20 Boda boda riders in Kampala City, Wakiso and Mukono districts.
Also known as Tamale Aloysius, Young Mulo’s gang comprised Umar Senyonga, Bod Mubale alias Musoga Ben, Majidu Bandiho alias Kagame and John Bosco Mugisha alias Mukiga. “Young Mulo would plant his accomplices, at well surveilled locations where they jointly attacked and killed their victims. On other occasions, the assailants would hire a Boda-boda rider whom they would attack and kill. Their victims were randomly selected,” the police report reads.
Some of the victims of the gang include Derrick Mulindwa who was strangled at Kakeeka Mengo, Nsubuga Abdallah, Galete Emmanuel, Damiano Sekalaba, Tom Malaba and Nkata Godfrey. Senior police officers who spoke to Uganda Radio Network –URN said Flying Squad did all the dubious acts because they were previously reporting directly to Gen Kayihura.
This left CID and Kampala police leadership with almost no say about their actions. “We are happy that suspects are no longer tortured and maimed by Flying Squad. We thank IGP who put them under CID directorate,” a senior police officer said.