The Inspector-General of Police Okoth Martin Ochola has ordered investigations into an incident that happened at Masaka Central Police on Thursday in which a man set himself ablaze inside the station.
Among the lines of investigations include extortion allegations that point to some officers at the station.
“The IGP has dispatched a task team jointly headed by the Director Operations AIGP Edward Ochom, and the Director Traffic and Road Safety, to thoroughly investigate circumstances under which a one Hussein Walugembe, 25 years old, a casual worker and night watchman, committed suicide at Masaka Police Station,” said spokesperson Fred Enanga in a statement on Friday.
According to Police, Reports show that the deceased committed suicide after several failed attempts to reclaim his motorcycles, a Bajaj Boxer, red in colour, reg. no. UDL 591R after two days.
“Preliminary facts indicate that the motorcycle was impounded on 30.06.2020, by Sgt Ewalu Julius after it was found parked at a petrol station that was undergoing construction, where the victim (now deceased), worked as a local night guard.” reads part of the statement
It is said that the victim had recently acquired the motorcycle a period of one week, and it was being ridden by a friend called Kaweesi Twaha of Masaka City since he never knew how to ride. He was, therefore, not a boda boda rider as earlier reported.
On July 1, 2020, he went to Masaka Police Station to reclaim his motorcycle, a trial that yielded no fruit and he went back on July 2, 2020, but all in vain.
Police said that Hussein was also employed by a one Rogers Namanya, who supplied food to suspects in custody but also performed several odd jobs at Masaka Police Station.
On July 2, 2020, his rider, Kaweesi Twaha, had raised Shs 40,000= as a bribe to Sgt. Ssesanga Ibrahim, but the victim rejected the move; since he was well known at the Police Station.
It was after he was fully frustrated by the Ag. OC Traffic that he went and bought petrol from Mogus Petrol Station and set himself ablaze. He attempted to grab the officer, for them to die together, but he escaped with minor burns, leaving the victim behind.
“The act of suicide at the police station is evidence of lack of vigilance by some of our commanders. So far two officers who were insensitive to the plea of the victim have been arrested for exerting pressure on the victim to part with a 40,000= bribe for the release of his motorcycle. These include; Sgt Ewalu Julius, the Station Major and Sgt Ssesanga Ibrahim, the Ag. OC Traffic. They acted negligently and unreasonably in holding the motorcycle without explanation or issuance of an EPS ticket,” Said Enanga
“The task team is also investigating a possible breach of police duties, negligent supervision, and failure to follow police procedures, failure to provide a medical and life-saving response to the victim, and integrity related concerns of extortion and bribery at Masaka Police Station,” Enanga added.
Ochola has further instructed the Directorate for CPC and Legal/HRS to conduct special gate-keeping training for all police officers, on the basics of recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide. Emphasis will be put on our front-line officers and first-line supervisors because of their day-to-day contact with fellow officers and the public.
“This is because a substantial proportion of the people we arrest or whose property is seized and exhibited, maybe at an elevated risk of suicide. Therefore, recognizing the behavioral patterns and other warning signs that indicate a person may be at risk of suicide or other emotional problems, is crucial in our everyday policing activities,” Ochola noted.
In addition, all Community Liason Officers (CLOs)are further instructed to interstate in their community sensitization and awareness programs, suicide prevention trainings to the communities, business groups, and individuals under their jurisdiction.