STATE OF SECURITY
ENTEBBE - President Yoweri Museveni has said he is "annoyed and pained" by the "unnecessary deaths of our Ugandans", but remains confident that once a host of measures are in place, including vigilance, such crimes will be dealt with.
"Criminals are taking advantage of the relaxed nature of Ugandans," he warned, urging all people to be vigilant.
In his second live address to the nation in a space of one week, the President said Saturday that altogether, 66 suspects have been arrested in connection with the recent murders of Muslim clerics, other high-profile people and ordinary citizens.
Former Buyende district police commander Muhammad Kirumira is the latest victim on the list of people killed by assassins, who characteristically have been using motorcyles to execute their missions.
Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga, AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Maj. Muhammad Kiggundu and senior principal state attorney Joan Kagezi are among those who also faced the same fate.
Accountant Susan Magara and several women in Entebbe, Nansana and Masaka were also brutally murdered.
Speaking at State House Entebbe, Museveni said while most of the suspects have been brought before court, others are still at large.
For the case of Sheikh Ali Kadir Muwaya, he said all suspects have been arrested. All but two suspects in Magara's murder have also been apprehended.
For AIGP Kaweesi's killing, some suspects are in jail and others are still at large. Museveni said the Police and Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have to get enough evidence to pin them on other offences as well as on the killing of the Police boss.
But the issue of murders, the President added, is not happening only in Uganda. The difference is that in the US and other developed nations, the perpetrators are quickly known "because of modern technology", including CCTV cameras.
But even in these advanced countries, hunting down the suspects takes time.
Going forward, Museveni said vigilance by the public is paramount. "If you believe you are being followed, report to Police."
Besides, co-ordination between Police and the public is also important. The President said each police station should have a toll-free telephone line, via which the residents can call the Police in case of emergencies.
Further, Museveni underlined that efficient co-ordination within the security forces themselves is key. For that matter, he ordered the Police to "give up the mobile phone" and instead use radios when communicating amongst themselves.
"With a mobile phone, you can speak to only one person at a time. But with a radio, you can communicate with more than one person."
'Listen to the public'
Besides deploying reserves (local defence units) and the army, the President said intelligence officials should embrace information they get from the public as opposed to overlooking it.
"If someone comes with disorganised information, it is you to listen carefully and get the essentials out of it. Don't discourage them, don't bark at them," he said.
Such information, after being sorted, could provide leads in investigations.
The President has previously talked about weeding out kawukumi (bean weevils) that have infiltrated the Police force, saying such elements allow agents of crime to commit their misdeeds.
"The Police force is being cleaned of them," he reiterated on Saturday.
"There is hostility towards the Police because the public knows the Police has been infiltrated by weevils. We are weeding them out."
'Safer, cleaner, smarter Kampala'
In a comparatively briefer address this time round, President Museveni urged private citizens that have the capacity to install cameras in their homes and business premises to do so.
Combatting crime is a collective effort and cannot be addressed "in isolation".
Meanwhile, the head-of-state said that when most of the elements in the safe and smart city concept are in place in the coming months, Kampala will be transformed into a better metropolis.
"In nine months, Kampala will be safer, cleaner and smarter," he said, adding that with machines eventually in place, the reliance on human beings will be scaled down.
"Economic-wise, machines are cheaper than human beings".
Six days ago, President Museveni delivered a detailed address on the state of affairs in the country, touching on the economy, security, media and other areas.
This time round, he narrowed his delivery on the state of security, informed by especially recent events that have thrust the security sector in the critical spotlight. The recent assassination of police officer Kirumira acted as a catalyst for the reawakening of critical sentiments on crime in the country.
On June 20, 12 days after the assassination of legislator Abiriga in Kawanda, the President stood on the floor of Parliament to outline measures to fight crime.
Vigilance, banning of hooded jackets by motocyclists, installing CCTV cameras and regulating UAVs were among the steps underlined.
Since then, he has struck a tone of confidence that, the NRM government will combat urban crime the same way it dealt with cattle rustlers, LRA and ADF.
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