Six police officers were on Wednesday arraigned before the Police Disciplinary Court and charged for neglecting their duties that led to stoning of President Museveni’s convoy in Arua last year.
The Police Disciplinary Court sitting at Arua Municipal Hall and chaired by SCP Denis Ondongpiny charged SP Jonathan Musinguzi, the former RPC for West Nile, SP Abbas Ssenyonjo , the former DPC for Arua, SP Herbert Wanyoto(former regional CID commander), Inspector of Police Francis Onen(former OC traffic in Arua), and SP Robert Okia, the former Field Force Unit zonal commander for West Nile region.
The group was charged with negligence of duty contrary to section 44 of the police act but they denied the charges.
The then area RPC Musinguzi regretted the August 13 incident saying that it was so touching that “my” President was so embarrassed and humiliated by the people from the opposition but said he had been let down by senior Police Officers who took over command of operation on the fateful day.
The then DPC Ssennyonjo also regretted the incident adding that as soon as he assessed the situation he quickly informed the commander in charge at the time but noted he was in turn abused and humiliated
Police tightens noose
However, the police prosecutor, SSP Stephen Ibanda insisted that the officers failed to properly execute their duties as commanders leading to interruption and subsequent stoning of the presidential convoy.
The prosecutor said the accused, despite being well equipped and facilitated failed to use the manpower of over 500 police officers and machinery at their disposal to avert the crime that led to the interruption of the presidential convoy and later the stoning.
The first witness said the commanders failed to make a correct judgment and they took it for granted that the president was safe having spent the entire day in the regional uninterrupted yet there were signs of chaos that was in waiting.
“They got information and identified black spots where there was going to be disorder but feared their actions would result into violence despite having manpower and machinery,” said the regional Police Professional Standards Unit chief, Evan Vuata who was the first witness.
“There was too much hooliganism and uncontrolled processions which needed proper deployment of foot patrols to repulse the crowds along Ediofe road, the route that the president was using.”
The police commanders were accused of failure to make proper decisions, poor intelligence and lack of proper information flow before and during the incident.
Prosecution contended that it was because of lack of decision making that police failed to control traffic and a caterpillar was allowed to block the road.
All the accused police officers were suspended after the incident in Arua.
On August 13, the last campaign day for Arua Municipality by-elections, President Museveni’s convoy was stoned and the hind screen shattered by suspected Kassiano Wadri supporters.
Consequently, chaos erupted in the area and over 30 people including Members of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, Kassiano Wadri, Paul Mwiru and Gerard Karuhanga among others were later arrested and detained by the army.
Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawuma was also shot dead during the chaos.
Meanwhile, all the area security chiefs were fired.
“The Regional and District Police Commanders, who should have anticipated the actions of these groups, since they had done the same in Jinja East and Bugiri, have been suspended. The DISO has also been removed,” President Museveni said later in a statement.
Museveni’s statement has blown off the lid on the unexpected transfer of Arua DPC Superintendent of Police Abas Ssenyonjo only hours to the polls.
Shortly after the incident, a mini- reshuffle involving only three officers and communicated by AIGP Moses Balimwoyo, the police director in charge of human resource saw the Arua DPC Ssenyonjo transferred to Masaka and replaced by Superintendent of Police Henry Kintu who had been in Masaka.
The West Nile Region RPC Jonathan Musinguzi was also quietly shown the exit from Arua.
President Museveni however later praised the army for handling the chaos meticulously and subsequently saving a number of people who could have died if it had been messed up.
“If you do not see these as problems, then you are a fascist,”Museveni said in a statement.
“The Security forces must be commended because they saved mass deaths by dispersing these misguided people without using rifle fire, considering the fact that many of them were not equipped for anti- riot duties notwithstanding.”
Museveni however insisted that Kyagulanyi and Wadri were directly responsible for the chaos and its outcome.
“To show the bad faith of Bobi Wine and Zaake, they were changing hotels- from Hotel Royale to Pacific Hotel etc. Why were they hiding?”
He added, “Kassiano Wadri, on the other hand, who should not have been in the company of such violent people, did not change residences and did not engage in hand to hand combat with security forces, from the reports I got. “