Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspector-General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola has dissolved the Flying Squad which has been serving as the police force’s violent crime crack unit.
The communication was sent through a radio message to all operatives indicating that Flying Squad had been disbanded, and it’s no longer recognized among police units. “We have been urged to go to Crime Intelligence headquarters in Naguru or be incorporated into the Special Investigations Division [SID] in Kireka,” one of the affected members of the unit told URN yesterday afternoon.
Ochola first disbanded the unit in his third month as IGP after taking over office from Gen Kale Kayihura. At the time, the unit under the leadership of Assistant Commissioner of Police Herbert Muhangi, had become infamous for participating in the reported torture of suspects. But Ochola reversed the decision on the advice of the Police Advisory Committee-PAC on the vital role Flying Squad was playing in dealing with gun-related violence.
He ordered all the personnel that were under Flying Squad during ACP Muhangi’s leadership to report to Criminal Investigations Directorate-CID headquarters at Kibuli. Thereafter, the CID Director Grace Akullo was tasked to screen all the operatives and only remain with those who did not have a bad service record. At the end of the screening, the numbers were reduced from 130 to 80 operatives.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the final position will soon be communicated. But URN understands that even the recently appointed Flying Squad Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police Andrew Kaggwa was shocked to reach the office and found the personnel leaving. It is reported that Kaggwa contacted police’s Human Resource Management for guidance and he was directed to report to CID head offices in Naguru.
URN found a different commander and new faces at the office previously occupied by the Flying Squad. Some of the operatives of Flying Squad who have been based in upcountry major police stations have been reverted to general duty police.
In the last three years where Ochola has been IGP, Flying Squad had never received an independent budget like it used to be during the reign of Gen Kayihura. When Muhangi was commander, Flying Squad on average received 200 million Shillings annually to cater for the operation costs.
CID records for 2018 show that the Flying Squad handled a total of 67 cases with 75 arrests, recovering 12 guns and 167 rounds of ammunition. “In 2019, Flying Squad handled a total of 181 cases compared to 67 cases handled in 2018. This is a support unit for police operations and investigations,” AIGP Akullo indicates in the reports.
Last year, according to CID, Flying Squad that was under the command of SSP Godwin Turamye, handled a total of 183 cases compared to 181 cases handled in 2019. In addition, Flying Squad recovered 23 firearms, 342 ammunition bullets, 67 stolen/robbed motor vehicles and 43 motorcycles in 2020.