15 Uganda police officers charged over extortion during lockdown

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Uganda’s police spokesperson Fred Enanga addresses the media.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | 15 Uganda Police officers have been charged for engaging in acts of corruption, extortion and misconduct during the COVID-19 lockdown. More than 30 others are reportedly under investigation.

Those charged by the police’s disciplinary unit and pending trial are at the ranks of Assistant Superintendents of Police, Inspectors of Police, Assistant Inspectors of Police, Sergeants, Corporal and Police Constables. They are majorly from Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Mbarara, Kassanda and Arua districts.

Although police spokesperson Fred Enanga did not reveal the number of police officers under probe, he revealed that 10 were charged last week for extorting money from riders, drivers, causing scandals in bars as well as aiding the escape of a high profile suspect.

A police officer who preferred anonymity said many  officers were implicated by civilians over extortion and corruption instances. Enanga named the charged police officers as Sergeant Harriet Wachemba, Police Constables Israel Akatuhurira and Joseph Katumba who were charged in Mbarara for extorting money from boda boda riders at checkpoints for riding past curfew time.

President Yoweri Museveni declared a 6pm and 7pm curfew for riders and drivers in a bid to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19.

There have been numerous complaints about police officers extorting money from riders and drivers to release their impounded motorcycles and vehicles.

The Assistant Inspector-General of Police Edward Ochom, who is also the director of police operations ordered Alert Squad commander Ashraf Chemonges to conduct a probe and make impromptu visits to police stations and roadblocks.

Read Also: Pedestrians accuse Kampala Police of extortion at roadblocks

In addition, police headquarters also ordered Professional Standards Unit –PSU headed by Sarah Kibwika to ensure all complaints lodged against police officers are expeditiously investigated and culprits charged in disciplinary or criminal court.

Enanga said the arrest and trial of police officers accused of extortion and corruption is an indication that the police management is determined to reign on cases of indiscipline within the force. Another police officer charged at Naguru police headquarters is Police Constable Pascal Wambwa.

Wambwa held hostage revellers with whom he had picked a quarrel. At least six other police officers have been charged in Arua for allegedly aiding the escape of suspect Dennis Ogen who was accused of coordinating a rebel group.

The charged officers include Twongo Joshua, Ojur Suleiman, Abidrabo, Alex Wanzara, Gilbert Tolita and Gilbert Yaraba.