Julius Odwee says it is common knowledge that a public servant cannot stay in office while facing criminal charges or undergoing a criminal investigation since it would interfere with the investigations or court process.
The Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura's continued stay in office defies provisions of the Public Service Standing orders
Kayihura is facing charges of torture before the Makindye chief Magistrate court together with seven other senior commanders in relation to the brutal beating of former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye's supporters at the beginning of July 2016.
Kayihura who is the first sitting head of police in Uganda to face criminal charges has remained at the helm of the force to this day when he was scheduled to appear in court to take plea.
And now Kayihura's immediate former deputy, Julius Odwee says his conduct is illegal. While speaking to URN on phone from his home in Dokolo District, Odwee says it is common knowledge that a public servant cannot stay in office while facing criminal charges or undergoing a criminal investigation since it would interfere with the investigations or court process.
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Odwee served in the Uganda Police Force for more than 30 years before retiring in 2011 as Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP).
The Public Service Standing Orders 2010 provide that the president shall interdict any public servant above the level of a departmental head to help ensure that the charges against the officer are investigated expeditiously and concluded.
Interdiction is the temporary removal of a public officer from exercising his or her duties while an investigation over a particular misconduct is being carried out.
In 2012, five senior officers at the Ministry of Public Service including the then Permanent Secretary Jimmy Lwamafa were interdicted by the president as they faced police investigation for for fraud, causing financial loss and abuse of office by the police.
Various police officers have been suspended by Kayihura in circumstances where they were being investigated or tried on criminal or disciplinary charges. The most recent suspensions were of four senior commanders who were summoned together with Kayihura at the Makindye Magistrate court.
The four include; Andrew Kaggwa who until the suspension was Kampala South Regional commander and Samuel Bamuziibire, the Kampala Metropolitan Field Force Unit commander. Others are Patrick Muhumuza, operations commander of Field Force Unit - Kampala Metropolitan South and Moses Nanoka the Wandegeya Division police commander.
In January 2015, the then Division police commander (DPC) Old Kampala Joram Mwesigye was suspended after police instituted investigations against him for beating up Andrew Lwanga, a journalist from WBS Television. He is yet to be reinstated as his trial is still ongoing at Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court.
According to the police standing orders, in case of suspension or interdiction an officer below the one suspended takes up the vacant position in acting capacity. Alternatively the responsible officer or commander may appoint an acting officer in the position.
In the case of Kayihura, the next officer below him Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) Okoth Ochola. Police standing order 2010 section 8 of the Disciplinary Procedures states that;
8. Interdiction is the temporary removal of a public officer from exercising his or her duties while an investigation over a particular misconduct is being carried out.
This shall be carried out by the Responsible Officer by observing that:-
(a) the charges against an officer are investigated expeditiously and concluded;
(b) where an officer is interdicted, the Responsible Officer shall ensure that investigations are done expeditiously in any case within (three) 3 months for cases that do not involve the Police and Courts and 6 months for cases that involve the Police and Courts of Law;
(c) where a Public Officer is interdicted, he or she shall be informed of the reasons for such an interdiction;
(d) a Public officer interdicted shall receive such salary not being less than half of his or her basic salary, subject to a refund of the other half, in case the interdiction is lifted and the charges are dropped;
(e) the Public officer under interdiction shall not leave the country without permission from the Responsible Officer;
(f) the case of a public officer interdicted from exercising the powers and functions of his or her office shall be submitted to the relevant Service Commission to note;
(g) after investigations, the Responsible Officer shall refer the case to the relevant Service Commission with recommendations of the action to be taken and relevant documents to justify or support the recommendations should be attached.