AIGP Grace Akullo, was last week dropped as director Criminal Investigations. She had held the position from September 2011. In her 10 years at the helm of CID, a lot has been achieved and will be credited to her name.
But in equal measures, there is a lot that was not achieved will probably also be blamed to her tenure as CID’s top boss. At 51, Akullo has been replaced by little known Major Tom Magambo, who has been serving as analysis director at Internal Security Organisation -ISO.
As she waits to hand over office to Maj Magambo, Uganda Radio Network -URN spoke to a number of police officers who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely. Three senior detectives at CID headquarters in Kibuli who started with Akullo in 2011 even though she often transferred them to various stations, divisions, districts and regions, say she will be remembered for being incorruptible, increasing the number of detectives, fleet, giving a facelift to once dilapidated structures.
One detective says he once thought he was close enough to her but the day he attempted to deliver an appreciation package was when he noticed that she was a no nonsense person.
“We investigated a fraud case that involved a lot of money and the victims were extremely excited that we had helped them recover their conned money,” a senior detective said. “They decided to give us close to 100 million to share three of us. I was very happy and I rushed to her with her share. But it was like I had hit a snake. She almost sent me to jail. I cried like a baby and pleaded for mercy. She has been incorruptible.”
Another senior police officer recounts a day when a lawyer for corruption suspects went to Akullo’s office with a bag of money but he was handcuffed. It took the intervention of the legal firm to apologise to Akullo for the lawyer to be set free.
“The lawyer was very sure the 200 million shillings would lure our boss to frustrate the investigations, but she instead arrested him,” another detective recounted. “I had never seen a man in a suit kneeling to be forgiven. From that day, I swore never to joke with her. I think she would be having an arcade on Kampala road if she was corrupt. I have seen her chase sacks of money year in year out.”
Away from fighting corruption at CID headquarters, Akullo is credited for implementing the police’s gender policy where at least 22 percent of the personnel are females.
By the time Akullo came in as CID boss, it is reported that female detectives stood at 11 percent. The total number of detectives has also increased by more than 100 percent in her 10 years. CID records show personnel strengths now stands at 5,292 even though it is still way below 19,843 required to meet UN standard of one detective investigating twelve cases a year (1:12). The current numbers of detectives mean each handles 45 case files per year.
“When she came, these buildings had trees growing on the rooftops,” a detective explained. “Many buildings’ paint had peeled off. Many were leaking. CID had less than 20 vehicles but we now have a fleet of cars and motorcycles totaling to 300.”
Some of the many cases Akullo and her team successfully investigated include the pension scandal, OPM scandal and UBC scandal. Akullo is also credited for supervising investigations that led to dismantling over 20 criminal gangs that were kidnapping girls and women, targeting special hire drivers, Boda-boda riders including those that kidnapped and killed cashier Susan Magara in 2017 and social worker Maria Nagirinya in 2019.
But still in her tenure, a number of prominent murders of Muslim clerics and security echelons were not concluded. For instance, the assassination of State prosecutor Joan Kagezi in 2015 and Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga, in 2018 have never been investigated and in fact no suspect has ever been arrested. Cases of Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, Sheikh Muwaya, Sheikh Hassan Kirya and many others have no suspects convicted six or more years later.
Dr Solomon Asiimwe a security scholar at Nkumba University and former police detective and renowned security analyst Fred Egesa, say Akullo could have achieved a lot if she had a supportive system.
“I know she had issues with former IGP Gen Kayihura and funding to CID reduced,” Egesa argues. “We often heard IGP telling heads of police units to find means of getting funds. Even CID? If CID is not given enough money for investigations, the results cannot be achieved. I know may division, district or regional CID officers use their own cars to do police work!”
Dr Asiimwe said Akullo’s failures are for the police institution as a whole because she has had top managers who include the IGP and ministers. On reports that are never made to the public on heinous crimes, Egesa and Dr Asiimwe say it should be blamed on lack of funds. The duo argues that even Maj Magambo as the new CID director will face similar challenges or more if he is not well facilitated.
On average police registers 4,000 homicide cases but each of them cost an average of $1,000 (3.6million Shillings). This means homicide cases alone would consume 14.8 billion Shillings out of about the annual Shillings 50 billion budget allocated to CID. Yet the biggest number of capital offences recorded every year is defilement where investigating a single case according to detectives, costs $500 (1.8million Shillings.
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