Some suspects arrested by the police Flying Squad claim that they collude with police officers in the spate of robberies around the country.
Herbert Muhangi, the Flying Squad commander, disclosed this to journalists yesterday while parading suspected robbers at Naguru police headquarters. The Flying Squad is a specialized unit that handles violent crimes such as armed robbery, high-profile murder cases, aggravated robbery, kidnap, and cross-border crimes, among others.
Those arrested include Umar Buwembo, Apollo Matsiko, Ahmed Buwembo and Tito Lutwa. In interviews with The Observer on Wednesday, some of the suspects confirmed working on the orders of high-ranking police officers whose names they declined to reveal.
“I was lured into this business by my boss who has a high rank in police and I was handing all the money to him and he was paying me only 20 per cent of the collected money,” Lutwa said. He added that his boss even gave him an extra gun and 60 rounds of ammunition.
Muhangi said in the past one year, police arrested more than 52 suspects involved in robberies and more than 20 have been convicted. In that period, Muhangi said, police recovered 41 guns that were used in robbery activities. He further stated that more than 2,500 rounds of ammunitions were recovered.
“Most of the recovered guns were AK 47s, Uzi guns and pistols,” he said. “Many of them were sourced from eastern DR Congo and South Sudan. So, after knowing the source of guns, we tightened our border security and according to reports, no illegal gun has crossed our border in the last three months.”
He said the recovered guns are kept in police stores at Nalufenya in Jinja and will be burnt after prosecution. Muhangi also said that last year his unit recovered 52 stolen vehicles and some have been given back to the rightful owners. He said they also handled nine cases of kidnap.
Muhangi warned that there are some people in security circles who go around conning people of money in the name of the Flying Squad.
SECURITY AGENTS ALSO SECURITY THREATS?
Last year, The Observer reported about investigations by the police and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), which found out that some soldiers and high-ranking military officers were involved in a spate of robberies and murders.
Most of the officers under investigation were implicated by low-ranking soldiers and policemen who were arrested during operations in December and January.
The crackdown was carried out by teams from the police, Special Forces Command (SFC), CMI and Internal Security Organisation (ISO). Meanwhile, a 2015 Flying Squad report indicated that some soldiers attached to the (SFC) were involved in robberies. SFC is the elite group of the UPDF responsible for securing the president, first family members, sensitive installations, and protects VIPs in the country, among others.
Muhangi said many of those arrested were involved in armed robberies, especially of small financial institutions, supermarkets and hardware shops. However, Maj Chris Magezi, the SFC spokesperson, said he was not aware of the police report implicating SFC soldiers. “We have never received that report from police; so, I cannot comment on something which I have not seen,” he said.