Police in Kampala have started an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a raid on a police station by UPDF troops to free colleagues who had been detained earlier for setting up an illegal roadblock to loot passersby.
According to the reports, the events took place on Wednesday night at about 9:30 when ASP Betty Kazungu, the officer in charge of Lumili police station, learned about an aggravated robbery occurring in Kakoola village, Ndejje parish, Makindye Ssabagabo in Wakiso district.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Luke Owoyesigyire of the Kampala Metropolitan Police said on Thursday that they are looking into the aggravated robbery and also helping the suspects to flee from legal custody.
It is claimed that on Wednesday night at around 9:30 in Kakoola village, Ndejje Parish suspects with weapons and wearing military fatigues set up an unauthorized roadblock.
The victims who were robbed by the suspects reported the robbery to the police station. The police then send their patrol car with armed police to the place where the robbery took place.
The suspects opened fire in the air after spotting a police cruiser. But the police remained firm, confronted the culprits, and took away their weapons.
According to certain reports, the suspect’s names as privates Job Reti and Orete Were were taken into custody for questioning after their detention at the Lumuli Police Station.
However, what first seemed to be an achievement for the police was short-lived when a Toyota Land Cruiser with eight armed soldiers pulled up to Lumuli Police Station hours later. They requested that the suspects be turned over by the police.
As per the reports, the soldiers held everyone at gunpoint when the cops refused. The soldiers took down every police officer before removing their suspected colleagues from police custody.
UPDF Sergeant Tonny Opio and Pius Lutaya were named by the police as the group’s leader and another person who helped the suspects escape.
Later, the squad that helped with the escape drove to the Mutungo Police Station and registered a case, alleging that the suspects were hurt and needed first assistance. But they kept the police in the dark about the hospital to which the suspects were being transferred.
Several instances of unauthorized roadblocks first appeared in Kampala City, the districts of Wakiso, Mityana, and Greater Luweero roughly ten years ago, and have reportedly increased recently. On the Nakawuka-Kasanje Road, the Kayunga-Senge-Kwa Road, and the Wakiso-Matugga-Kasangati Road, cases have been reported.
The gang members allegedly pose as routine security inspections while wearing military fatigues and installing barricades in the middle of the road.
The robbers strike by executing a full-force attack as soon as the naive drivers let up on the gas.
The army has refuted claims that some of its officers are participating on several occasions. They have been blaming street gangs for the violence, accusing them of stealing their military hardware and using it for criminal activity.
According to the police commanders at the Kampala Metropolitan Police Station, the suspects in the Ndejje incident and those who assisted in their capture will be detained again with help from the army.
In October last year, eight gang members were arrested by police in the Rwizi district for setting up illegal roadblocks with the intent to rob unsuspecting people. Later, three further gang members were also detained in a separate operation.
The police spokesperson Fre Enanga claimed that the group was responsible for several robberies and illegal roadblocks in the area.
In September last year, the gang set up an illegal roadblock at the HIT bar along the Mbarara-Brembo road while carrying pangas. They stole Dr. Dickson Mugume’s laptop, router, two power banks, two mobile phones, and a bag containing personal items.
Mugume was returning home to Nyakaizi cell at midnight after a party. When he arrived at Kakoba, he discovered a log in the middle of the road that the thugs had used to block his path.
He attempted to escape but was forced to the ground when three thugs emerged from the bushes and robbed him. The gang was later captured in October.
According to the official police statement, the majority of the suspects detained are seasoned criminals and young people who have turned to armed robberies as a source of income for their survival.
Towards the end of last year, IGP Ochola received a direction from President Museveni to make sure that all barriers are removed from the nation’s highway to promote efficient transportation of goods and services.
Museveni’s order was made in response to growing public outrage over the use of roadblocks for criminal activity by some security personnel and criminals impersonating security officers.
Even if there is a law and high security for preventing illegal roadblocks and robberies, the sad truth is this stealing and attacks are still happening on various streets.
The incident that occurred on Wednesday is a perfect example of that. To maintain peace and sanity in Uganda, the arrest of hardcore criminals is a must.