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Full Statement: IGP Okoth Ochola outlines 2023 achievements, 2024 priorities

By Martins Okoth Ochola

I would like on behalf of the Uganda Police to wish all Ugandans and visitors in the country, best wishes of joy, peace, good health, and prosperity, during Christmas and the New Year, 2024. For many families, this season is a time for fun, love, care, togetherness, and celebration. But for some it can be a very difficult time. Let us all take time to look out for those who may not have a family or even a roof over their head. A small gesture can end up meaning the world to somebody else.

From a policing view, the year 2023 has been an exceptionally busy year, with many challenges that included the tragic New Year concert at Freedom City, attacks on police stations and posts, cattle raids within Karamoja and the neighboring districts, attacks on schools including Lhubirira SSS, attacks by violent actors and ADF rebels, murders arising of domestic violence, land conflicts and armed robberies etc, whose impact has been devastating for those directly affected, their families and Ugandans at large.

Despite these challenges, I am pleased to announce that 2023 has been a good year for policing in the country. The police and sister security agencies of the UPDF, Prisons, SFC, JIC ( CMI, ISO, CI, and ESO), JATT, carried out specific and joint special operations, which made our country, Uganda, one of the safest countries on the continent. To a great extent, we reduced gun related crimes and the proliferation of illegal firearms and ammunition, terrorism, gang and marine crimes, house breaking, burglaries, acid attacks, motor vehicle thefts, cattle raids within Karamoja and the neighboring districts, and many other traditional crimes.

Our success has been due to the hard work of the police in coordination with sister security agencies, the reorganization of CID, improved detection and investigation, a robust crime intelligence directorate, that has built a proactive network of credible informants and strategic partnerships with the community, including the ghetto youth, and other intelligence components to disrupt and dismantle criminals targeting our country, new initiatives like the expansion of the motorcycle squads, visible tactical and operational teams, expansive community policing, forensic science and the increased deployment of technology and 2500 additional police officers, among other initiatives.

In addition, our increased level of cooperation with the office of the DPP, JLOS, the judiciary, and other partners under the criminal justice system, the Anti Human Trafficking bodies, and all MDAs, has enabled us secure notable convictions on court cases of child sacrifice, human Trafficking, violent murders like in the Maria Nagirinya case, and that of the serial women killer, where the convicts are now facing lengthy prison sentences. We also achieved a major breakthrough in the case of the late Joan Kagezi of the ODPP, after 8 years, and the suspects charged to court.

Other key achievements in the year, 2023, the implementation of the sub-county policing model in Greater Masaka, the establishment of call response centers at 20 sub-county police stations in Aswa, East Kyoga, and Mt. Moroto, policing regions, to help enhance our crime reporting mechanisms, an increased presence and functionality of the police in Karamoja, through the construction of 7 community police stations, at Lokori in Karenga, Nakapelimoru in Kotido, Morulem in Abim, Nakiloro in Moroto, Alakas in Amudat, Namalu in Nakapiripirit, and Apeitolum in Napak. Each station has staff housing units, motorcycles, water, and solar power. We have also provided new residential and office facilities to 7 new district police stations of Kwania, Kapelebyong, Rukungiri, Luweero, Sheema, and Ntoroko; constructed accommodation blocks in Nakasongola, Sheema, Busolwe, Mitooma, Kanungu, Kakumiro, Katwe-Kabatooro, and Kafunjo, a Regional Police clinic at Moroto, the Regional Maintenance center in Arua, the Aircratf maintenance center at Kimaka-Jinja. We also commenced the construction of the police headquarters complex at naguru, two district police stations at Bukomansimbi, and Lwengo, and 24 apartment blocks at Kiira division, Entebbe and Jinja. We made house renovations in Mbale barracks (6), Jinja (12), Gulu (7), and Entebbe (16), and also commenced the replacement of asbestos roofs in Soroti, Nagalama, the Police clinic in Bugiri and at Fire Brigade headquarters.

This year, 2023, we strengthened force discipline and adherence to human rights by operationalising disciplinary courts in all districts across the country, investigated 794 of the 933 complaints of human rights violation by the police, eliminated the soil bucket system through the remodeling of 10 detention facilities in Panyadoli, Kiryandongo, Paidha, Maracha, Yumbe, Atiak, and Kololo, bringing our total coverage of water borne toilets to 68%. We have also expanded the K9 unit and established its services in 8 districts of Karenga, Moroto, Nabilatuk, Kumi, Buliisa, Luuka, Bukedea, Katakwi, Kaabong, and Napak.

Looking to our national responsibilities, we anticipate huge policing ambitions in 2024. We plan to strengthen our business and case management systems under the ePIS project, an integrated digital platform for management of policing services, police major international conferences, expansive use of technology, establish an online complaints management system at the Profesional standards unit. We are also developing the UPF doctrine according to national and international standards, embracing paper less transactions by leveraging ICT systems in all 29 regions, continuous coordination and cooperation with other key stakeholders to reduce duplication, recruiting and skilling officers to match Contemporary policing needs, etc.
Once again, i would like to take this opportunity to thank H.E. the President for his guidance, the Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs and the Police Authority for their stewardship. I also thank every member of the UPF, sister security agencies, JIC, all partners, and the community, for their support, loyalty, discipline, professionalism and commitment to duty, during the year, 2023. I further applaud those officers who have retired and appreciate the services they offered. To the families of those who lost their loved ones during the year 2023, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

I wish you all an amazing Christmas and a prosperous New Year, 2024.

The writer is the Inspector General of Police.

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