By Faruk Kirunda
Sections of the public, elites and “sponsored” groups in opposition have questioned the logic and motive of President Yoweri Museveni’s action recently when he appointed senior army officers to police. Museveni was acting within the ambit of his powers conferred by Constitution on him as Commander-In-Chief.
The officers whose deployment was announced on June 2, 2019, are Brig. Jack Bakasumba (Chief of Joint Staff), Brig. Godfrey Golooba (Director, Human Resource Development and Training) who replaced AIGP Haruna Isabirye, who was sent to New York as the police attachée to the Ugandan mission.
Others are Col. Jesse Kamunanwire (Director, Human Resource Administration) who replaced AIGP Moses Balimwoyo, now Director Interpol and International Relations. Kamunamwire also replaced SCP Oyo Nyeko Benson, who was Acting Director was sent to the AFRIPOL headquarters in Algiers, Algeria as the police liaison officer. Col. Chris Serunjoji Damulira (Director, Crime Intelligence). He replaced SCP Chombe Amur who was transferred as Deputy Director Interpol and International Relations.
First of all, the appointment of the above officers had many precedents. On successive occasions, police has been headed by military generals as Inspector Generals-Maj. Gen. Katumba Wamala (2001-2005) and Gen. Kale Kayihura (2005-2018). Then at the time Kayihura was exiting the force, Brig. Sabiiti Muzeeyi (now Maj. Gen.) was brought in to deputise IGP Martin Okoth Ochola. It is therefore feigning surprise when new faces are introduced. It is normal practice of seconding soldiers to other organs and departments including civil ones like Cabinet and customs.
The wisdom of doing so is based on the competence of an individual and clear achievables. Once their mission is over, they return to their mother force, the army. It is normal deployment that does not infringe on any law or known custom. All those deployed below the rank of IGP work under the orders and instructions of the IGP who takes overall responsibility for their actions and is answerable for them. Disciplined officers know this. They cannot superimpose police practice with military ways. They wear police uniform and act in accordance with its ethos. In case of indiscipline, they can be tried by the police disciplinary unit or the court martial, whichever is more effective or where charges raised against them fit best.
Uganda is also unique in a way that police and the army have traditionally worked together with creditable results in attending to and resolving security and order situations of any sort. Their partnership is bad news for criminal elements; good news for command and coordination purposes.
In particular, the switchover of Col. Ddamulira from Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) is in direct response to gaps in intelligence gathering in police. Police personnel have always been too enclosed within the population they are meant to police which makes it difficult to observe peculiarities that may suggest crime intent and concealment.
Col. Damulira, with his vast experience and a network which has effectively dealt a blow to major threats that are usually classified for the peace of mind of the public, will boost that department in police operations and hopefully, he will share long-term tips and build capacity within the force. There are good and capable officers to team up with to achieve that objective which is critical to law and order management in general. Being able to preempt criminal acts is fundamental. CMI is effective in identifying and neutralising threats and the public has been wondering how it is done; Damulira and group are the faces behind that grading.
The officers have been well received by police authorities, signifying that the contribution of the newcomers is appreciated.
In a statement released by the Police spokesman, CP Fred Enanga, Police authorities acknowledged that “the secondment of the UPDF officers comes at a time when there is an increasing convergence of policing and military doctrines and better partnership in addressing policing concerns countrywide.
We further thank our counterparts the UPDF that is stable now, for not denying us the opportunity to utilize their officers who will oversee three out of the 19 directorates in the Police. We look forward to the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring along with them that will help provide top quality policing service to the staff and the wider public”. The “reception” suggests that consultations were widely done before the decision to bring on fresh and much-needed competences was reached.
As usual, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. Rather, they should be happy and proud that their security, law and order are, as ever, top priority “goods” that Museveni never leaves to chance. The plan to achieve the perfect formula to suppress all forms of crime is on course. Success will be possible if Ugandans do their part by, first of all, desisting from criminal enterprise and secondly, supplying accurate intelligence to security agencies for due action.
On their part, the “soldier cops” should not disappoint the trust of the commander-in-chief and Ugandans in their new roles. They should strictly act professionally and in national interest. If there are still kawukuumis (Museveni speak for compromised officers) in the force, it is now easier to “fumigate” them once and for all.
The writer is a private secretary to the President in charge of media management