The deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Paul Lokech has admitted that security slept on the job during the attempted assassination incident against the former Works and Transport Minister, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala.
Last week, unknown assailants riding on two motorcycles sprayed bullets onto the vehicle of the former Chief of Defence Forces killing his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver well as the four star general sustained injuries.
Giving an update about investigations into the matter, the deputy police chief admitted that there was laxity in responding to the incident despite presence of CCTV cameras that captured some of the events on the day.
“There was slow response to the incident from the police. If there was quick response from the police force, we would have caught the criminals. Our teams of the foot patrols, motorcycle squads and motor vehicle patrols were not alert on the day,” Gen Lokech told journalists.
President Museveni last week said the recent attack exposed the disorganization in the Police Force.
He noted that the CCTV cameras were not properly utilized by police and this saw the criminals walk away.
“The cameras I put in place did their work. As you saw the killers were running from one area to the other area. Why didn’t the camera centre alert all the patrol cars and even the UAVs (drones) to chase and block these killers,” Museveni wondered.
“These wonderful camera managers, think that their gadgets are only for storing videos for forensic analysis as part of the post-mortem of the operation. Yes, the cameras are for forensic but also for enduuru (alarm) while the crime is going on.”
Speaking on Tuesday, exactly a week after the incident, the deputy Inspector General of Police admitted that the people manning CCTV cameras centres slept on the job.
“There was a gap in communication. As much as CCTV cameras can give us real time intelligence, there is need for coordination between real time intelligence and the people who are supposed to act,” he said.
Owing to President Museveni’s remarks indicating disorganization in the police force, Gen Lokech said having visited the scene, he noted several weaknesses that the assailants had but noted these were not fully taken advantage of by security.
“They spent between 40 and 50 minutes in the area before the attack. It is not true these are sophisticated professional killers. I was looking at the weaknesses and was only crying if I was foot soldier there, they would not go away with it. I looked at time they spent. They didn’t know the route in and route out. Those are some of the challenges that will be corrected,” he said.
The deputy Inspector General of Police said well as visiting the crime scene, he also witnessed many other challenges that he said made it difficult for a robust response.
“I was on the ground and observed some gaps. I walked the distance between the home of Gen Katumba and the crime scene which is 4.1km and noticed there is no single Police CCTV camera,” Lokech said.
He noted that there was no communication between the CCTV cameras on Gen Katumba’s vehicle and the CCTV command centre.
Vows to correct mistakes
The deputy Inspector General of Police, who is also a battle hardened two star general of the UPDF, however noted that they have learnt from their mistakes the hard way and that they are ready to correct them.
“We would like to assure the public that we are doing everything within our means to find the attackers. Whoever was involved in planning and execution of the mission will be arrested. We are going to do everything possible to get these bad guys.”
Lokech said that despite the incident, it should be noted that security is a responsibility of every person, and not only police.
He urged members of the public to always be vigilant and alert, adding that no country is free from both external and internal threats.
The deputy Inspector General’s remarks come at a time when the public is bashing security over the recent spate of shootings carried out in a similar mode with assassins travelling on motorcycles spraying bullets into mostly government vehicles killing occupants instantly.