The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Edward Ochom has said he's not competent enough to comment on the notorious activities of Abdallah Kitatta, the head of Boda Boda 2010.
According to Ochom who is the head of Directorate of Research, Planning & Development in police, he is less qualified to comment on the allegations leveled against Kitatta. Members of Boda Boda 2010 were recently seen attacking pupils on a school bus on their way to perform during the Police Week celebrations for allegedly wearing red bands, which are associated with those opposed to the proposed removal of presidential age limits.
The same group has also been seen in the past working alongside police to suppress opposition protests. While attending the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) at St. Francis Students Centre at Makerere University on Friday, Ochom was tasked to explain the circumstances under which, Kitatta works with police to commit crime and always walk scot-free.
The participants also tasked Ochom to explain where Kitatta derives powers to order around police officers and the emerging criminal gangs collaborating with police; "I think on that issue I can say I am not competent enough to answer," said Ochom.
The response from the deputy IGP triggered more questions among the participants with some questioning whether they can still trust the police force. Elly Tumuheki, a student at Makerere University expressed concern about the competence of police to handle security affairs affecting citizens if they cannot account for individuals who work with them.
Tumuheki wondered who would help the ordinary Ugandan citizen if the whole deputy IGP could confidently tell the public that he was not competent to speak about Kitatta who has been accused for long of terrorising citizens.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I’m worried if the AIGP is not competent to talk about Kitatta or anything else in this country because am wondering if I have an issue and any of the people below him can assist me. Perhaps I beg the police officers who are here, to tell us if there is anything we can do, now come to us and help us citizens. From the statement that Afande Ochom is saying that he’s not competent to talk about this man who is actually terrorising everybody, citizens have the power. Do not harass us, come to us, talk to us, we [sort] Kitatta out", Tumuheki said.
Emmanuel Atibuni from the Centre for Constitutional Governance wondered why police continues to parade suspected criminals in the media in violation of their constitutional right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
"I’m worried if the AIGP, most of the things are beyond his control where do our lives lie as civilians where the police is supposed to look after us. And again, Uganda Police Force being the fourth worst in the world, I think is not by mistake, is not by coincidence.
They have poor investigations in the police force which has led to police to resort to use of torture in order to get information. The police force in Uganda has gone ahead to parade suspects as criminals which is a breach of provision of presumption of innocence before the trial", Atibuni said.
Ochom later clarified that Kitatta isn't above the law.
"The question that I was not confident to talk about Kitatta [is because] I don’t have facts and therefore I cannot commit myself. But all I know is that if Kitatta commits an offence like any other person, he can be arrested. You know this. Ministers have been arrested and taken to prison, MPs have ever been arrested and taken to prison. So Kitatta is no exception. If he commits an offence, I only encourage people whom he has committed offence against to report. Let it be on record", Ochom said.
Police spokesman, Emilian Kayima denied claims that police works with criminals arguing that Ugandans who comment with such thoughts need to be honest.
"We don't work with thugs. When you equate us with Kifesi [thugs], I think you are being dishonest," Kayima said.