The inspector general of police, Gen Kale Kayihura, and his deputy have disagreed over a recommendation by the police court to demote officers implicated in the beating of Dr Kizza Besigye’s supporters last year.
Reliable police sources told us that Kayihura and Okoth Ochola differed in at least one meeting convened to discuss the findings from the police’s disciplinary court, which finalised the matter two weeks ago.
“According to the judgment, officers will be demoted one rank below on the charge of discreditable conduct and each officer will also lose a third of his current salary on the charge of use of excessive force,” an inside source told us.
The officers charged with beating up Besigye supporters in the Kampala suburbs of Najjanankumbi and Kalerwe last July, included: Andrew Kaggwa, the former regional police commander for Kampala East; Samuel Bamuzibire, the field force commander for Kampala Metropolitan; Moses Nanoka, the divisional police commander for Wandegeya; and Patrick Muhumuza, the field force commander for Katwe police station.
If the recommendation to demote them is upheld, Andrew Kaggwa and Samuel Bamuzibire, now Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), will be demoted to Superintendent of Police (SP).
SP Moses Nanoka would be demoted to Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), while Patrick Muhumuza, now an ASP, would fall to Inspector of Police (IP). Officers without ranks would not be dismissed, but cautioned.
The Observer has it on good authority that Ochola and other senior officers support this recommendation but their boss, Kayihura, disagrees.
In a Tuesday meeting at the police headquarters, Kayihura reportedly said the officers could be given “any other punishment” other than demoting them.
But Ochola, according to sources, quoted sections of the Police Act, which stipulate that officers found guilty of discreditable conduct should be punished by dismissal.
Therefore, by recommending that they be demoted, Ochola reportedly said, the police court was even lenient. The meeting was also attended by AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, police spokesman and director for human resource development and management; and Denis Odongpiny, who chaired the court that tried the officers.
Odongpiny reportedly told the meeting that he wanted his court to set a precedent for future reference.
“This judgment will be put on record and will be used as an example by other police officers in future; so, we must be careful,” he said.
One officer pointed out that demotion does not mean an officer will never be promoted, citing the case of Asan Kasingye, the director of Interpol, who was demoted while he was DPC of Entebbe in the late 1990s for discreditable conduct. Kasingye is now an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP).
For his part, Kaweesi reportedly said the demotion would serve as a warning to other police officers who use excessive force on others.
However, when contacted for a comment, Kaweesi told The Observer on Saturday that he was not aware of the meeting, before adding that he could not discuss police internal matters in the media.
“The chairman was tasked by the inspector general of police to work on the police officers and if he is ready, he must brief the IGP or his deputy, but not me,” he said.
Kaweesi said the IGP cannot interfere with the investigation or seek to influence its findings.
“The court is independent and nobody has the right to interfere with its judgment,” Kaweesi said. “It will be prejudicial if some information about the ruling is leaked to the media before it is made public.”
When contacted on Friday, tribunal chair Odongpiny denied knowledge of the meeting. He said he was still finalizing his ruling, which he would read formally to the accused persons this Tuesday, after meeting Kayihura.
“I expect to meet the IGP either over the weekend or Monday morning and I brief him before I read my judgment on Tuesday,” he said at the Central police station in Kampala.
We have been told that officers who do not agree with the ruling will have the right to appeal in the police appellant court, which is chaired by Kasingye.