Police has come out to defend itself over the claims that it failed to reign in on a syndicated theft of cocaine exhibits by its Senior officers over a two year period of time.
Last week, 9 police officers attached to the Aviation Police at Entebbe International Airport were arrested over the theft of cocaine amounting to 83 kilograms. This huge volume of cocaine is estimated to be valued at Shs 13 billion.
It is alleged that the police officers had for years been engaging in tampering with cocaine, previously sided from dug traffickers at the airport.
The arrested officers currently in detention at Nalufenya in Jinja include Police Commissioner in Charge of Narcotics Tinka Zerugaba, the Commandant of Very Important Persons Protection Unit (VIPPU) SCP Lodovic Awita and former O/C CIID Entebbe Aviation police Detective Superintendent of Police Mataric Emmoly Nataria.
Others are SP David Francis Owiny, VIPPU’s Michael Semuwemba, Sgt Julius Mwesigwa, Sgt Deogratious Muhebwa, Cpl Derrick Odiambo and PC Eriphase Karugaba.
The report of the arrests attracted criticism towards the police for allowing this criminal act prevail. In fact, some sources within the police revealed to SoftPower News that the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura had knowledge of the alleged theft of the cocaine exhibits as early as 2015 but did not crack the whip on his officers.
These unanswered questions follow another arrest of Senior Police Officers who are accused of abducting a Rwandan national and illegally repatriating refugees who had sought asylum in Uganda. This infiltration of criminals in an institution that should be cracking down on criminality puts Police in an increasingly difficult position to salvage its public trust.
But Police spokesperson AIGP Asan Kasingye on Monday poured cold water on the claims that the police allowed illegal acts to boil under its nose, saying that there has been an active investigation for the last two years.
“On November 2, some 9 of our officers were arrested by the Police Flying Squad in connection with a case we have been investigating since 2015,” Kasingye told the press on Monday.
“It is us who discovered that there was something amiss from a whistleblower who is within the Police. He informed us and the IGP sent a team from the Police Compliance Unit who started investigating.”
On why it took two years for the suspected officers to be apprehended, Kasingye claimed that the investigation was complex and required ample time.
“Some of these investigations are so scientific. To find out how many kilograms were belonged to each of these officers and getting to the bottom of this case isn’t something you can’t rush,” the Police spokesperson said.
The law requires that once such exhibits are no longer deemed of use by court, it is incinerated.
“The information we got is that this exhibited cocaine was disappearing slowly by slowly and our officer were replacing it with something obnoxious – maybe maize flour.”
Kasingye revealed that the investigation has not been concluded to this day. He said that police needed a thorough investigation to know exactly where the suspects were taking this cocaine.