By Haggai Matsiko
Bribery allegations, messy investigations swamp police as Kayihura asks for Shs400bn
Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, does not like appearing before the parliamentary committee on Defence and Internal Affairs. Last year, he snubbed the committee twice and only appeared after the committee threatened to refuse to approve the police budget.
This year, the MPs expected him to appear with his boss Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Minister for Internal Affairs to present the ministry’s policy statement before the committee on April.23. Instead, Aronda appeared with different police bosses. Committee members say they still want Kayihura to appear before them for quizzing.
The demand comes at a time when, critics say, police investigations into high profile crimes are sloppy, big cheque bribery allegations have been made against top officers, and there is a general sense that insecurity is getting worse.
Fungaroo Kaps Hassan, a member of the committee, told The Independent: “We want him to tell us why shootings are getting out of hand, why police now appears like a segmented institution caught up in in-fighting between units, and why the force is showing a lot of signs of unprofessionalism in handling crime”.
Fungaroo also points out that the police chief in March, soon after the shooting of then-Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Joan Namazzi Kagezi by unknown assailants, showed that there is a general sense of insecurity when he admitted that thousands of Ugandan civilians had applied for private fire arms.
Fungaroo is one of the many critics who feel that increasingly under Kayihura, the police is not chasing after major crimes, which they claim are getting out of hand, with the same tenacity the force has exhibited in hunting down key opposition politicians and suppressing their activities.
Come May, it appears the police chief does not have much wiggle room and must appear if he wants the Committee to approve a staggering Shs600 billion budget for the force for the 2015/16 Financial Year.
Of this, the core police budget is Shs412 billion. The extra Shs200 billion is meant for monitoring the 2016 elections. At Shs412 billion, the core police budget has increased by about Shs100 billion—it was only Shs. 316 billion last year – a huge rise in a year when most government departments are taking a cut.
Queries are being raised about why police is increasing its classified expenditure 100% from Shs5.9 billion to Shs13 billion. Kayihura also wants Shs15 billion for specialised equipment.
Kyadondo East legislator, Ibrahim Nganda Ssemujju, who also sits on the committee, told The Independent they plan to write to Kayihura and insist he appears before the committee and answers their queries.
Pension scam trouble
In one of the major cases, the Director Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID), Grace Akullo has accused the two top police offers of taking bribes and attempting to mess up investigations into a Shs165 billion scam in the Ministry of Public Service. The money was paid out to fictitious pensioners, through Cairo Bank.
The suspects in the case include; Christopher Obey, the former chief accountant at Public Service, then PS Jimmy Lwamafa, Steven Lwanga, a former accounts assistant at the ministry, Steven Kunsa Kiwanuka, the former director for research and development, Francis Lubega, a former information system analyst, David Japins Oloka, a former senior accounts assistant, Peter Ssajjabi of the East African Community Beneficiaries Association and some workers of Cairo bank.
The case appeared to have collapsed when, on April 13, a magistrate at the Anti-Corruption Court, threw it out because the state had failed to prosecute it.
When Minister Aronda appeared with other police leaders and Grace Akullo, the Director CIID under whose department, investigations into the scam seem to have faltered, they were quizzed over the issue.
Faced with a barrage of questions, Aronda, in his usual calm demeanour gave members of the committee assurances that the case would be resurrected.
Akullo also explained the circumstances under which two contradicting reports, one signed by her and another by two of her subordinates—George Komurubuga and Moses Kato— had ended up with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The focus of the contradictions was who was to be prosecuted and who would not be prosecuted.
Akullo’s report dated October 31, 2014 wanted all these suspects prosecuted and shows that Cairo Bank was part of the process of hatching the scam.
But Akullo’s subordinates, Komurubuga and Kato, allegedly authored another report that recommended the exclusion of Ssajjabi and Lubega from the charge-sheet and also exonerated Cairo bank.
The contradictions aside, Akullo revealed that her subordinates had taken bribes. Apparently, Akullo said, some of the accused told her that rogue elements had been given billions of shilling purportedly to pass on to her. Akullo’s revelations seem to have opened a can of warms and engulfed the entire investigation and prosecution in a cloud of bribery allegations.
The Spokesperson of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, Jane Okua, told The Independent that the reports had nothing to do with the dismissal of the case.
“Police reports are just assessments of what they found during investigations, they are just advisory,” Okua said, “The DPP makes the final decision to prosecute basing on the evidence available. And we are convinced that with the evidence we have, we will reinstate the case and prosecute it.”
Okua, however, admitted that the DPP’s office does not have investigative powers, and only prosecutes using evidence that has been gathered by police.
This is why critics are finding revelations by Akullo very problematic. They say the contradictions are a window into a possibility that things went wrong during the investigations.
An official privy to the details of investigations of the case, declined to be named but told The Independent that is bad enough that police investigators in the same directorate gave prosecutors contradictory signals on such a critical case.
This state of affairs appears to be drilling holes in the view that the police chief has previously preached about how he has transformed the police.
Police insiders say the split over the pension scam is feeding into fault lines created over other investigations, including those into a string of murders. They claim that is the reason Kayihura was forced to set-up another unit called the Special Operations Unit (SOU) led by the fierce Nickson Agasiirwe. They say SOU is to fill the gaps of the CIID.
Some even speculate that the police boss is set to shake up the top force administration. However, Kayihura has sought to allay fears. He says the new changes he announced mid-April are meant to intensify the investigations for which he is the supervisor.
“While we acknowledge that there could have been shortcomings on the part of some officers involved in the investigation, this was not fatal to the case. In fact, the CIID working closely with the DPP did a commendable job. The case is alive and kicking and will be caused to be reinstated by the DPP,” he said.
The Pension Scam case is a critical one for Kayihura because President Yoweri Museveni was directly involved in the investigations. As The Independent reported when the case first broke in 2013, the huge sums of money involved led to fear about what the suspects could do with it. President Museveni assigned his son, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to get involved.
Kayihura has, over the years built a reputation as a thorough sleuth. He has become a favourite of President Museveni by supplying key intelligence, including details about activities of former spy chief Gen. David Sejjusa and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Sejjusa fled into a short-lived exile in London when Museveni swung against him and Mbabazi was removed from his job in the government and in the ruling NRM party. Kayihura was able to expand what used to be the Criminal Investigations Department into the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID).
But Kayihura has also attracted envy and hostility as, over the years, he has eaten into the budgets of other intelligence agencies to finance his operation. Critics say he may have weakened the other agencies and overstretched the police force.
They say this is dangerous to national security as terrorist threats sweep towards Uganda from the heart of Somalia that is home to the deadly militant group al Shabaab, through Kenya, where the group claimed over 140 Garrisa University students.
While keeping President Museveni’s political foes at bay and keeping demonstrations off Kampala streets, might have made Museveni confident of Kayihura—this new beast of an enemy that Kayihura is confronted with, will require much more tricks and, possibly, money.
Museveni raps police
The allegations against the police come at a tough time for Kayihura.
President Museveni, while addressing Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), District Internal Security Officers (DISOs) and district Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) at a government retreat at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) at Kyankwazi, said he was disappointed the the police’s poor investigation methods. He mentioned several cases, including the murder of three Muslim leaders among them Sheikh Abdul Kadir Muwaya, who was killed on Christmas Day 2014.
Museveni said police was not doing enough on interrogation of suspects, does not pay attention to detail, and risked causing loss of clues about top murder cases.
He narrated incidences where he had to get involved to get results and advised the district bosses to get involved.
“In some of these cases like murder, it is better you go there physically and check whether policemen are doing a good job,” he said.
Kayihura’s men have been struggling to get to the bottom of the murders of Sheikhs and some businessmen with little success. They have made numerous arrests but few prosecutions.
Instead, it appears, Kayihura had hoped to use Kagezi’s murder to get government to scrap the provision for suspects to be held for only 48 hours before they are arraigned in court. His calls seemed to parrot his boss President Museveni’s against bail. Both have been turned down by all including the new Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe.
For the Busoga murders, Kayihura first made announcements that his force had uncovered a gun that was allegedly used in the murders and closed a school where it was found.
In the Kagezi case, Kayihura first said she had been murdered by the al Shabaab. This was perhaps because Kagezi was the lead prosecutor in several cases notable amongst them the thirteen suspects of the July 2010 Kampala bombings that claimed over 80 lives and the one against the eight suspects of the Sheikhs murders. His men made several raids on a few neighborhoods, with groups of journalists in tow, on the homes of suspects.
But Kayihura soon turned around and said she could have been murdered by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group, which police says has connections with the suspects in sheikh’s murder case. But the actions appear to have been designed to reduce pressure for results on the force.
Since the pressure abetted, Kayihura has not made any major announcements about any inroads made by investigators into the Kagezi murder.
Not so says Jane Okua, the DPP spokesperson. She told The Independent that her office was in touch with the police and investigations are in full gear.
“We hope that we are putting as much effort in the investigations as one would put in any murder,” she said.
But one man is not satisfied.
“One day,” legislator Theodere Ssekikubo, who also sits on the Defence Committee said, “we hear that they have arrested the key suspect, the next day we hear that he has escaped. We want to know what is going on, we want to know whether they are on top of these investigations.”
There are questions that the police leadership needs to answer. Sekikubo added: “We know the police has challenges, crime is getting more sophisticated, and you cannot afford to have a force that is incompetent. That is why we want to take on the police leadership on their core competencies.”