By Patrick Matsiko wa Mucoori
Sugar is a treacherous product. A child steals sugar and licks it. But it splatters and sticks around his mouth. When the parents accuse him of stealing sugar, he swears her has never stolen sugar yet the sugar crystals are allover his lips and cheeks. Nothing fits this bill like Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura’s denial of knowledge about the Kiboko Squad yet everybody knows he was telling a naked lie.
The squad, a conglomeration of operatives from various security agencies and lawless militia groups, is well known by the public as an auxiliary gang of the police. When they are dispersing demonstrators they operate side by side with the police. In fact during the anti-Mabira forest giveaway riots in Kampala in 2007, the Kiboko Squad emerged with their sticks right from the Central Police Station and poured into the streets to clobber the demonstrators. There are enough video and still pictures of these scenes. The same thing happened on June 9 this year when the Kiboko Squad descended on the opposition protesters who were demanding the resignation of the Electoral Commission. Pictures were relayed on television and published in the press of the Kiboko Squad members clobbering the protesters as the riot police too were charging at the demonstrators. Then Kayihura appeared on radio and television that evening to deny knowledge about the Koboko squad. He feigned shock and told viewers and listeners that he ‘in fact was furious’ that the police had not acted when the Kiboko Squad was beating up people.
The sugar theory comes in handy. While Kayihura was on air denying ‘stealing sugar’ the crystals were clearly on his lips and cheeks and he falsely thought people were not seeing them. There are numerous pictures showing police presence when the Kiboko Squad was unleashing mayhem at the Clock Tower. People have watched and seen these pictures in the press. Therefore there is no amount of denial that can help the police. The police should own up or shut up. If the police did not know the Kiboko squad, why didn’t they arrest them? Even if one was to irrationally assume the police did not know about them, why then haven’t the police arrested the squad members who turned up voluntarily at the Central Police Station to make statements? The police instead claimed they did not arrest them because others would go into hiding.
Immediately after the Clock Tower incident, they were looking for the Kiboko gangsters. After days later the gangsters turned up at the central police station. How can police in their normal state of mind see criminals and fear to arrest them just because others would escape? Hasn’t it been the practice of the Uganda police to arrest criminals so that they can reveal information about their colleagues? How can the police change its rules only for the Kiboko Squad?
Kayihura said he had ordered an investigation into the squad as if this was the first time he had heard or seen the Kiboko Squad. The same squad emerged from the Central Police Station with their sticks during the Mabira giveaway demonstrations in 2007. How did the Kiboko Squad enter CPS? Had the stick-wielding gangsters overpowered the armed police and overrun CPS? Didn’t Kayihura’s officers brief him about it? Assuming they did not, didn’t Kayihura read newspapers, watch television or listen to radio? The Kiboko Squad activities were in all the media. The Kiboko Squad also came out during the Kisekka Market riots.
Is Kayihura saying that even then he did not know about the squad and that the first time he knew about it was on June 9? But in the unlikely possibility, if all this time Kayihura had never known about the Kiboko Squad as he claims, then it’s an involuntary admission that he is not in charge of the police at all. How can the Inspector General of Police not know about the Kiboko when everybody else in the country knows them? Now Kayihura has purportedly ordered an investigation into the Kiboko Squad.
How can the police investigate itself? Informed sources say the Kiboko Squad members are drawn from various security organs and the police. They are just given civilian clothes to conceal identity. This is intended to help the police do their dirty work for the state but easily disassociate themselves from it and blame it on an unknown lawless group called Kiboko Squad. This helps the state in two ways. No one can sue government for the activities of the Kiboko Squad because officially it’s not an organ of the state. But also the state or the police may not come under direct criticism by the international community for unleashing terror on the opposition.
One of the Kiboko Squad members Ssemakula alias Backfire who has been on television and in newspapers bragging about his terror group carries a pistol. Doesn’t Kayihura know this too? Backfire says he sells second-hand clothes. Can the police show in their records where Backfire applied for a firearm licence and acquired the pistol?
The going of several Kiboko members to the Central Police Station when the head of the police had announced they were wanted, shows their overwhelming confidence guaranteed by high level assurance that nothing would happen to them. In the foregoing, one can bet, without fear of losing the bet, that there will be no investigation, arrest and prosecution of the Kiboko Squad members.
A disease that will kill a great man starts as appetite. The state may be obsessed with using the Kiboko Squad to subdue its political opponents and opposition activism. But there is a danger of this squad degenerating into a mass gang that the police may not be able to control in the future. From Kampala, this militia will soon export its members upcountry to sow mayhem and ultimate widespread violence and anarchy. This is how the Interahamwe were bred in Rwanda. The ultimate price for the country was loss of about one million lives in 1994.