11 December 2012

Uganda: Corrupt Officials Are Taking Advantage of Police

The low pay of Police officers has made it hard for the force to successfully investigate and stamp out corruption in Uganda, Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba has noted.

According to Nabakooba, corrupt officials are using their loot to bribe whoever may implicate them and Police detectives have not been spared.

"Corrupt officials have huge sums of money yet our staff are paid peanuts," Nabakooba said. "Some Police detectives have been tempted to accept the bribes although they are always cautioned against the vice and are aware of the repercussions."

Nabakooba made the remarks during an anti-corruption dialogue organised by the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) at the Kampala Africana Hotel on Monday.

She however reported that Police had created three divisions under the Crime Intelligence and Investigations Directorate (CIID) to enhance its capacity to stamp out the vice.

The three divisions include one for probing the central government, another in charge of local governments and a third division specializing in investigating urban authorities and municipalities.

Her comments come amidst widespread corruption in the country. According to this year's Eat African Bribery Index by Transparency International report, Uganda tops East Africa in corruption, followed by Tanzania and Kenya in second and third positions respectively.

Currently the Police are investigating about 18 ministries and government bodies over fraud, including the Office of the Prime Minister where over sh20b donor funds was stolen.

In Uganda, Police remains the top most corrupt institution followed by the judiciary, tax services and the land services sectors, according to the report.

Also vulnerable are the registry and licensing services, city and local councils, the health and education sectors.

The rampant corruption is often attributed to inadequate political will to fight corruption coupled with low salaries for civil servants.

Nabakooba also cited inadequate training and operational funds as the other challenges limiting effective Police investigations on corruption.

"Corruption investigations require our officers to go to risky places to dig out all the evidence and sometimes they need to spend days there. But the funds are never adequate to support this," she explained.

The Police spokesperson also decried lack of proper legislation to allow for seizure and attachment of properties for the corrupt officials to refund for the stolen public funds.

If enacted, she said, such laws would make corruption a risky venture.

The ACCU boss Cissy Kagaba decried the fact that a number of corruption investigations files go missing from Police detectives which kills evidence.

She also urged the Police top cooperate with the civil society and media as partners, not adversaries, in the anti-corruption struggle.

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