By Innocent Anguyo
KAMPALA - In light of a forestalling terror attack on Makerere University, the police have deployed a group of highly trained crime preventers comprised of recent returnees from terror-ravaged Iraq.
Speaking to New Vision on phone, police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the plain-clothed security personnel were offering voluntary service to the country on compassionate grounds.
She further noted that, given the fact that the crime preventers were enormously experienced in averting terror attacks after serving in Iraq, they were invaluable stakeholders in the fight against terror.
“We have a security-partnership with Makerere University which allows the crime preventers to supplement on the security efforts of the Makerere’s internal security and Makerere University police,” reiterated Nabakooba.
Makerere reportedly offers logistical support to the crime preventers. Nevertheless, there are claims that the police also gave the group at least sh40m to finance their activities.
Nabakooba said the crime preventers were deployed at Makerere after security intelligence established that terrorists were targeting Uganda’s biggest and oldest public university.
It is reasoned that, Makerere being one of the most recognized features in Uganda, it could be a soft target for terrorists. Online University ranking body Webometrics recently ranked Makerere fourth in Africa, and the best outside South Africa.
In recent weeks, the plain-clothed crime preventers have manned security at the main entrances into Makerere and heightened search of vehicles and packages entering the institution. However, Makerere university staff and students accused the officers of harassment.
“They stopped me and asked me to produce my identity card and yet I was just at the gate of my hostel. At times, they force you to follow them without giving you any reason,” said one Brenda, a student at the College of Economics.
The staff said the crime preventers were hard to identify and could pass as gangsters because they did not wear uniforms. Makerere police however revealed that the crime preventers had been issued with tags for purposes of identifying them.
Nabakooba revealed that the crime preventers will continue working at the university until police deems threat of terror attack on the institution negligible.
Makerere University recently issued a terror alert to avert any terror attack on the institution after numerous reports in recent months that terrorists were plotting to attack Uganda.
In a notice issued to the entire university community, the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, called for collective vigilance at the institution.
“In light of the national terror alert, all members of the university are hereby called upon to exercise maximum vigilance,” stated Prof Nawangwe in the statement pinned on University notice boards.
Nawangwe called on all members of Uganda’s premier university to report suspicious and rare identities to the authorities especially the University police.
He further asked Makerereans to guard against attacks by both terrorists and common thugs.
“Avoid atmosphere that could raise one’s susceptibility to being a victim of attack like walking alone with expensive gadgets in the night,” re-echoed Nawangwe.