The inspector general of police, General Kale Kayihura, has been caught up in an embarrassing situation after he was forced to apologise to Muslims for having
sent police to raid a mosque in Kiwatule, Kampala, only to admit later that they had acted on wrong intelligence.
Kayihura delivered his apology last week during a meeting with some Muslim leaders at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headquarters, Old Kampala.
Armed police first raided Nakasero mosque in Kampala last month and arrested some individuals suspected of being connected to the murder of Muslim cleric Major Muhammad Kiggundu late last year. The police did it again at Kiwatule mosque a few days later.
While the police should be free to do their job of fighting criminality and, indeed, deserve all the support they need to do so, it is important that their methods don’t lose them the trust of the people, including those they aim to protect.
Police should act only when they are confident that they have the right information. There is need to invest more in intelligence gathering capabilities to avoid the common tendency of arresting first and investigating later.
Shooting first and aiming later is a risky approach to fighting crime because it’s difficult to undo the damage once a mistake has been made, as the police chief has already discovered.
More so, places of worship should be treated with a little extra caution, respect and sensitivity. Raiding a mosque or church is quite extreme; so, by the time such a decision is taken, the authorities must be confident about the integrity of their intelligence.
Otherwise, such action will be perceived to disrespect people’s beliefs and cultures, thus galvanising and radicalising the affected communities for resistance and defiance, which doesn’t serve the overall cause of security.
Western countries with armies in Arab countries have learnt this reality the hard way and our police shouldn’t make the same mistake. Nevertheless, the police chief should be commended for being quick to apologise upon realising that his men got it wrong on Kiwatule mosque. To err is human.
Let’s hope the embarrassment suffered will serve to make the police more vigilant when confronted with similar calls in the future.