President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!
The president was speaking today at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was handing over motorcycles to the parish chairpersons of the NRM across the country.
“I told the IGP that if the police don’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the (mis)conduct of the NRM primary elections held on Friday.
The president then elaborated what had triggered his unusual ultimatum to the national police boss: “There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that Police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given a police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!”
Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries. In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where a candidate who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account.
Although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it, Last week, Police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests the errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle.
Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” the incensed Museveni said.
He also said that the state minister of Labor, Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. “This game is finished,” Museveni said.
He called upon all those who were dissatisfied with the results of the elections to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.
“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered, you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.
Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary-general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign in some of the senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.
“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said.
The ball is now in IGP Okoth Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements.
As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court-martial for various crimes. Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court-martial.
To avoid a similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.