By Martins Okoth Ochola
As the year 2022, comes to an end, I would like to use this opportunity on my own and on the behalf of the entire Police fraternity, to wish all Ugandans and visitors in the country, a safe and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas is a period of Thanksgiving, togetherness, harmony, peace, love and unity. Let us use this opportunity to encourage and uplift each other, creating time for family and reaching out to the sick and vulnerable people in our communities.
This year has been extremely busy in terms of policing and public safety. We faced many challenges but also made several achievements. To begin with, we are entering the festive season amidst a threat environment, that is motivated by individuals and groups with violent ideologies. These criminal elements from the ADF and the Uganda Coalition for Change (UCFC), a self-styled rebel group, carried out senseless attacks on police units and personnel, in which some of our officers lost their lives, while others were seriously injured, in the line of duty of protecting the community. The sacrifice of our officers, will never be forgotten and their names, will be recorded in the wall of Fame at the Police Museum in Kibuli.
We also witnessed other violent crimes along the Kampala Northern bypass, of car vandalism and smash and grab crime, vandalism of electricity and other utility infrastructure, and the traditional crimes of aggravation like armed robberies and murders. In addition, the global economic crisis that has affected many countries, including Uganda, has created a time of adversity and uncertainty, which has led to a surge in general crimes.
Despite these challenges, I am grateful to the collaborative efforts of the joint security partners, my leadership team, all territorial commanders and frontline officers, who have gone above the call of duty, to prevent, counter, disrupt and dismantle, the criminal elements behind these acts of hostility and violence. As a result, we restored sanity along the Kampala Northern bypass, dismantled criminal networks in the greater Kampala suburbs of Nansana, Kyebando, Kyengera, Namungoona, Katwe, Kisenyi as well as in Mbarara and Fort Portal. We also disrupted efforts by the ADF, to reconstitute and establish operational cells in Lukaya and Butambala, and most recently in Matugga and Maganjo. Several suspects linked to the hostile group were arrested, including the leader of the ADF terror cell in Central Region, a one Kabanda Abdallah Musa alias Mogo. An assortment of exhibits in form of IEDs, suicide bomb jackets, bomb making and instruction materials, rifles, ammunition, motorcycles and electronic gadgets were recovered.
This year, we have further bolstered security with the UPDF in Karamoja, invested in ghetto policing, with programs that are designed to prevent violence and crime, spearheaded campaigns against child abuse, domestic violence, trafficking in persons and also delivered justice to vulnerable communities, among others. We have also made strides in advanced analytics, in IT, Forensics, Criminal Investigations and Crime Intelligence, expanded our CCTV network and are committed to an innovative future by developing the e-policing system. The Uganda Police Force was also instrumental in the fight against Ebola in Kasanda and Mubende districts. We have also undergone numerous structural changes by promoting several gazetted officers, conducted multiple capacity building trainings, recruited new PPCs and integrated many SPCs, and also implemented the sub-county policing model, for better protection and quality service delivery in the community. Although there’s still a long way to roll it out, we are proud of what we are trying to achieve.
As I conclude, I want to specially acknowledge and thank the men and women of the UPF, UPDF, Prisons, Joint Intelligence, all MDAs, members of the Criminal Justice System, the Private and Business Sector, NGOs, the local leaders and the media for all their efforts in helping us keep peace, promote safety and security in our nation. I urge, all our security personnel to continue remaining vigilant and extra alert as we police this festive season.
I also want to thank all our citizens and visitors for being law abiding, and for their continuous cooperation and support of our policing activities. I pray that you are surrounded by the love of your families and the goodwill of your respective communities during this festive season.
This Christmas, may we give thanks for the blessings that the Almighty God, has granted our nation and in each of our lives. And may the joy of the festive season, renew our commitment to working together for the future of peace, opportunity and hope.
Finally, allow me remind you all to follow the health and safety protocols on Ebola and COVID-19 as you celebrate the festivities.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The writer is the Inspector General of Police.