Uganda: Police Boss Promises Justice for Self-Immolated Boda-Boda Rider

The Director Police Operations, Mr Edward Ochom, has said officers who were accused of extortion following self-immolation of a boda boda rider at Masaka Central Police Station will face the law and penalised if found guilty.

Hussein Walugembe, 29, died on July 2 after setting himself on fire following failed attempts to recover his impounded motorcycle.

It is reported that by the time the police impounded the motorcycle, it was with Walugembe's friend Twaha Kaweesi who was accused of flouting curfew guidelines.

The police officers including Sgt Julius Ewalu and Sgt Ibrahim Ssesanga, the acting officer in charge of traffic in Masaka District have since been arrested in connection with the incident.

The police authorities say the act of suicide at the police station was evidence of lack of vigilance by some of the police commanders.

Mr Ochom said transferring the implicated officers to other police stations will not serve any purpose because it will be like "transferring problems to other parts of the country".

"I have had engagements with different stakeholders in both security and boda boda leadership and soon we shall take a very informed decision on officers who were allegedly involved in the incident," Mr Ochom said during his visit to Masaka Central police Station on Friday.

Preliminary investigations indicate that Walugembe's motorcycle was impounded on June 30 by Sgt Ewalu from a fuel filling station under construction, located near Masaka CPS.

When Walugembe showed up on both July 1 and July 2 at Masaka CPS traffic office to reclaim his motorcycle, both Sgt Ewalu and Sgt Ssesanga reportedly exerted pressure on him to pay a bribe of Shs40,000 to have his motorcycle released, which he did not have .

According to police, it was after Walugembe was fully frustrated by Sgt Ssesanga that he went and bought petrol at nearby Mogas Petrol Station and set himself ablaze. Walugembe attempted to grab Sgt Ssesanga to die with him, but the latter escaped with minor burns, leaving the deceased behind.

Mr Ochom refuted reports that Sgt Ewalu and Sgt Ssesanga still report to the station for work, insisting that both officers are in custody.

"Those are just romours, no one will go scot free before thorough investigations are conducted," he said.

He inspected a police parade at Masaka Central Police Station before holding a security meeting with Masaka Resident District Commissioner Mr Herman Sentongo and other heads of security in the district where media was not allowed.

Mr John Kato, THE vice chairman boda boda riders association in Masaka District said Mr Ochom also promised to take action against other police officers who solicit bribes from riders and those who mistreat them.

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