Police died the day Katumba left – Ochola
Incoming Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola has in a revealing testimony told MPs about how Gen Kale Kayihura killed the police force. Ochola appeared before members of the Appointments Committee at Parliament, as part of the rituals leading to his take over as the chief policeman.
He was the second among the three newly appointed security to be vetted by the committee. Behind closed doors of Parliament’s South Committee room, Ochola appeared well organised and calmly answered questions as they came in from vetting committee members.
Featuring prominently were questions about the tainted image of the police until when Mityana South MP Henry Makumbi asked him about what he thought of the now “dead” police force.
“The police died the day Gen Katumba Walama was removed as IGP,” Ochola said to the shock of MPs.
Katumba was removed from the police in November 2005 and replaced by then newly promoted Maj Gen Kale Kayihura. Kayihura was to superintend over a police that sometimes appeared to be transitioning into a political force.
Ochola was Kayihura’s deputy who was elevated on Saturday March 3 when President Yoweri Museveni sacked Kayihura.
He poured his heart out before the MPs, not mentioning directly, but painting a picture that he was at pain with some of the things that happened during Kayihura’s time.
He for instance criticized the way Kayihura handled promotions in the force, the corruption and the decision to work with criminal gangs. This he said, killed the morale and commitment of many officers.
“I couldn’t do anything because he (Kayihura) was my boss, I couldn’t overrule him,” Ochola is quoted as having told the MPs. He was also saddened by the breakdown in the chain of command where junior officers would directly call the IGP.
“A junior officer could pass an order that an RPC (Regional Police Commander) couldn’t,” Ochola reportedly told the MPs.
Asked what he intends to do to rebuild, and restore public confidence in the police, Ochola promised a near overhaul. He plans to sack some bad elements, transfer some as well as building functional institutions.
He also expressed reservations about the deployment of military officers to work in the police. He cited the example of his designate deputy, Brig Muzeyi Sabiiti whom he left in the VIP waiting reading the Police Act.
Sabiiti was the last to be vetted and told the committee that he will spend some time learning from his senior, Okoth-Ochola.
“He said he would follow the chain of command and respect the IGP. He said that despite his 20 year experience in the army, he has no knowledge of the workings of the police,” a committee member said.
Sabiiti also had to answer questions relating to last year’s attack on Parliament by security forces during the chaotic amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limits.
First to be vetted was the designate Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine who said the changes are good for the country’s security.
“Any change brings new things,” said the bush war hero.
He said, with the sacking of Kayihura and Tumukunde, sanity is going to prevail again.
“There were no institutional fights, the problem was between two individuals, not institutions,” Tumwine said.