Gen Kayihura to retire from army as Museveni drops all charges

Age Limit Debate: Kayihura warns public against processions
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kale Kayihura. Courtesy Photo.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura is set to retire from the army this month.

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) confirmed that he is among nine other generals lined up for retirement from the military. Various sources on Friday 30, June 2023 intimated the army court officials met the commander in chief of the armed forces, President Yoweri Museveni over the criminal charges brought against Gen. Kayihura.  

The former police chief was charged with failure to protect war materials, failure to supervise police officers, and abetting kidnap. Gen. Kayihura has been on bail since 2020. There have been unconfirmed reports that President Museveni agreed to drop all the charges against Gen. Kayihura.

While the UPDF deputy spokesperson Col Deo Akiiki did not comment about the meeting between the president and the army court, he said whoever is asking about the status of Kayihura should know that he is set to retire this month. 

“What I can confirm is that the general will be among the 10 generals to retire from the UPDF. We wish the general the best of his retirement time and we shall always consult him as one of the mentors of most of us remaining behind in active service,” Akiiki said.

At the rank of a four-star general, Kayihura is the most senior among the 10 retiring senior military officers. The list has major generals, Wasswa Mutesaasira and Joseph Arocha who are two ranks below Kayihura while brigadiers, Steven Oluka, Augustine Atwooki, and others are three ranks below the former IGP.

Gen. Kayihura was on March 4, 2018, sacked from the position of IGP which he had held for over 12 years, and was replaced by his then-deputy Martins Okoth Ochola. In June the same year, he was arrested in an operation spearheaded by then deputy chief of defence forces (CDF) Wilson Mbadi who is now the chief of defence forces.

In his last days as IGP, Kayihura proposed that suspects with capital offences like murder, terrorism, and robbery be held for at least 90 days before being taken to court to enable investigators to gather more than enough evidence for a successful prosecution.

After being arrested by the army he served, Kayihura was detained at military police headquarters at Makindye for 76 days without trial. He was later arraigned in the court martial where he was charged with three counts: The first count was the failure to protect war materials contrary to section 122 (1) (2) of the UPDF Act 2005.

The particulars of this count indicated that between 2010 and 2018, Kayihura allowed the use of arms and ammunition by unauthorized persons including members of militia outfit Boda Boda 2010 headed by Abdallah Kitatta who was jailed before him.

The second count was that Kayihura failed to supervise and ensure accountability for the arms and ammunition issued to specialized units under the office of the IGP including the flying squad, the specialized operations unit, the witness protection unit and the crime intelligence directorate of Uganda Police Force. The third count slapped against Kayihura was aiding and abetting kidnapping from Uganda.

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He allegedly committed this offence between 2012 and 2016. He by omission and commission aided and abetted the actions of subordinate police officers and others on various occasions without hindrance to kidnap and illegally repatriated Rwandan exiles, refugees, and Ugandan citizens to Rwanda including former Rwandan presidential guard Lt Joel Mutabaazi, Jackson Karemera alias Ndiga and Sgt Innocent Kalisa.

“The meetings have been going on behind the scenes and he will be cleared before the official retirement from the military. Even his legal team led by his lawyer Jet Tumwebaze has been part of his retirement preparation and everything is almost done,” the source said.

However, efforts to speak to Tumwebaze were futile as he did not our repeated pick-up phone calls. For Kayihura to regain his total freedom, these charges must be dropped before he is retired and gets clearance from the military court. Without clearance, otherwise, Kayihura will remain a suspect on trial even in his retirement. He has been under house arrest since 2018 and has since been sanctioned and his properties seized by US and Europe over alleged human rights abuses and violations.

Despite the troublesome incidents Kayihura has faced in the last five years, he is credited for transforming the police force in terms of numbers, training, fleet, weaponry, and setting up structures. Kayihura replaced Gen Edward Katumba Wamala in 2005 when the police force numbers stood at 14,000 but he left in 2018 when the figures had grown to 46,000.

He found police renting along Parliament Avenue but left it in its permanent storied structure serving as the current headquarters at Naguru. Kayihura set up the forensic directorate, built several regional and district police offices, spearheaded the installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, and started the construction of police housing units, he encouraged, supported, and recruited young athletes into the police force and they have won the country numerous Olympics and Common Wealth gold medals.

If nothing changes, Kayihura is set to retire a millionaire since he will have to receive all five years’ salary. Besides, during his indictment, UPDF leadership increased a general’s salary from slightly over Shs 3 million to Shs 15 million.

In the recent past, the media has reported that brigadiers and major generals have been receiving a retirement package of Shs 400 million to Shs 600 million accompanied by a house worth Shs 200 million. This was even before the salary for senior officers was raised to Shs 15 million.