By Martins Okoth Ochola (Esq)
I wish to use this opportunity on my own and on the behalf of the entire Uganda Police, to congratulate all Ugandans and visitors in the country, and wish them a very happy festive season. The festive season is meant to be a time of thanksgiving and celebrations. Therefore, amidst all the joy and excitement that the season brings, I urge everyone to reflect and give thanks to the Almighty God, for having guided us through the many challenges in this year. I do greatly thank you all for your level of patience tolerance and endurance, and look forward to a more Prosperous 2022.
Just like last year, we continue to celebrate the festive season amidst the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and impact on many families, businesses and communities across the country. It has meant many sacrifices in the daily lives of many Ugandans and visitors. We are currently, faced with another significant risk of the new Omicron variant, which if we do not take seriously, will cost us many more lives and other health risks. In addition to the pandemic, we are also faced with the challenges of domestic extremism including the emergence of a new rebel group “The Uganda Coalition Forces of Change, (UCFC), seeking to exploit the festive season.
Although these festive threats exist, the Joint Security Agencies are more than prepared this time round and dedicated to combatting all security related and violent crimes targeting the Ugandan public and visitors to the country. As you have already witnessed so far, we have been able to disrupt and dismantle several ADF terror cells in the country and intensified operations along our boarders to prevent illegal crossings, jointly pursued perpetrators involved in terrorism financing, incitement, mobilization, recruitment and radicalization of vulnerable Ugandans. We jointly, managed to arrest several agents, collaborators and operatives linked to these acts of domestic terror and violent crimes like the machete wielding assailants in the Greater Masaka. Some of the terrorists were eliminated during our counter-terror operations, while four suicide attackers got killed. I therefore, want to use this opportunity to thank Ugandans for rejecting terrorism in all its forms in exchange for our fundamental values of liberty, humanity and freedom.
As the Joint Security Agencies, we have worked hard throughout the year in dealing with the other crimes as well. Again, this year, we anticipate a further reduction in crime, across key categories including organized crimes, burglary, robberies, cattle rustling, theft of motor vehicles. We however, still see a prevalence of cases of domestic violence, for which we are going to re-engage with all our communities and work with them in protecting all vulnerable people from those who victimize them.
We further enhanced our policing initiatives, with the roll out of the CCTV cameras in Municipalities, Highways and urban times. This Anti-crime infrastructure was very critical in aiding our investigations into the Masaka murders, the attempted assassination of Gen. Katumba Wamala, and the deadly suicide attacks in Kampala; we have also installed the Automated Fingerprint Information System (AFIS), and the Criminal Automated Biometric Identification System(CABIS) and DNA machine which enhanced our forensic based investigations, re-organized the Anti-stock Theft Unit (ASTU) and boosted it with Aerial Surveillance that has helped fight cattle rustling in Karamoja, recruited and trained 10.000 PPCs over the last two years and this has increased police visibility greatly.
In addition, we have promoted the welfare of our personnel by effectively streamlining the operations of Exodus SACCO, promoted inspectors and NCOs, built up a formidable sports team that won Uganda medals at the Olympics, completed 420 housing units at Naguru, 84 housing units in up country stations like Bukedea, Sironko, Mulanda, Kween and Budaka; also constructed and commissioned 11 police stations in Kyenjojo, Lyantonde, Paidha, Sironko, Luuka, Namutumba, Mulanda, Kween, Budaka, Bududa and Budaka police station as well as the Regional Headquarters of East Kyoga, and the vehicle maintenance center in Soroti.
I would like to greatly thank all members of the Joint Security Agencies, all volunteers, partners, colleagues, the media, for all their hard work and sacrifices, day-after-day, throughout the year. I am truly grateful to them all for the differences they made in promoting peace, safety and security in our country.
Therefore, as we all celebrate the holidays, let us all take time to recognize the brave officers, who are on duty, to keep the country safe. Let me also use this opportunity to honor all our officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Their ultimate sacrifices, diligence and love for the country, is remembered during this festive season, as we pray for their loved ones.
As I conclude, I wish to remind all Ugandans and visitors, to remain vigilant and take appropriate precautions to reduce the risks of terrorism, COVID-19 and violent crime, leading up to, during and after the festive season. And to further thank you all for your support to us, over the past year.
From all of us, I wish you all and your families, a safe and very Merry Christmas, as well as a Prosperous New Year, 2022.
The writer is the Inspector General of Police