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Former Deputy IGP Odwe Stings Police, Boldly Talks about ‘Orders from Above’, Weevils in Police

Odwe Blasts Police, Pokes Holes into Training of Officers

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Julius Odwe, a former deputy Inspector General of Uganda Police, has boldly let out the hard truths, giving his views on the rot in the force, training gaps and ‘orders from above’.

On Wednesday, Odwe spoke in Kampala during a Human Rights Convention panel discussion themed The Role of Security Agencies in Promoting and Protecting Human Rights.


Former deputy IGP Julius Odwe. Courtesy Photo
Former deputy IGP Julius Odwe. Courtesy Photo

Odwe explained that the ‘orders from above’ vice was hinged on dishonest gains and poor training.

“There are two ways why police officers use ‘orders from above’,” started Odwe.

On dishonest gain, Odwe said: “They [police officers] hide the activities of the police under the pretext of above from above” for selfish interests instead of following the law.

Odwe further poked holes into police training which he was said was inadequate, leaving the officers unsure of what to do in some circumstances.

“I believe that the police is not well trained, and that means that they do not have the knowledge to do the right thing,” he said.

“A mindset that has not been transformed can be used to do anything.”

He explained that  there was “lack of proper knowledge, exposure and experience among officers”, adding that “some officers are hired just because someone knows them”.

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Odwe also accused sacked police chief Gen Kale Kayihura of ignoring his counsel on police training.

“Towards the end of my tenure, I implored the IGP to train the police because this component had been ignored due to CHOGM and the police’s presence in Northern Uganda,” recalled Odwe.

“I’m not sure it has been done.”

In 2011, Odwe retired from police after serving in the force for about three-decades.

Martins Okoth Ochola (now the police chief) replaced Odwe.

On his part police director of legal affairs and human rights AIGP Erasmus Twarukuhwa said: “the new IGP [Ochola] has clearly stated the chain of command at police.”

“You won’t be hearing the ‘above’ saying anymore as it had been before,” assured  Twarukuhwa.

Erasmus Twarukuhwa
Erasmus Twarukuhwa


Odwe narrated how he defied an order by then deputy speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga to re-arrest a suspect that had been released by court.

‘In 2011, the then Deputy Speaker, now Rt Hon Speaker, Alitwala Rebecca Kadaga, called asking me as the then Deputy Inspector General of Police to arrest a suspect who had been released by a magistrates court,” narrated Odwe.

“I rejected outright saying its unlawful.”

He added that it is up to individual officers to decide whether to reject or implement the ‘order from above’.

On the recent re-arrest of suspects after release on bail, Twarukuhwa said “police management expressed their displeasure at what happened and investigations are still going on”.

But Odwe reacted: “In relation to the use of un-uniformed but armed officers, it should take more than expressing disappointment.

“Investigation and reprimand is a more stern direction the management of police should take. Police leadership should investigate such people and punish them instead of just patting them on the back.”

Odwe was supported by Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, an advocate of the High Court of Uganda, who argued that “It is very unlikely that someone will be re-arrested without the knowledge of police leadership”.

“They need to do more than just public relations and actually reprimand and hold such accountable,” urged Namubiru.

Odwe agreed with Twarukuhwa that Uganda police policies discouraged partisan behaviour “but what we are talking about is practice. There’s partisanship in the police.” 

Leader of opposition and Kasese Woman MP Winnie Kiiza blasted the security agencies for allowing to be used as “organs for regime survival.”

“There’s need for security agencies to ensure the protection of all Ugandans,” said Kiiza.

“Security agencies are being used to protect the regime. You can only be a good police officer if you are protecting the president.”

On resolving the ‘crisis’ in Uganda Police, and the weeding of bad elements (which President Yoweri Museveni has previously called “weevils”) out of police, Odwe said it would require time to clean up the force.

“It will take about eight years for us to see any reforms to kick in,” predicted Odwe.

“I see the Uganda police force as a crop in a weather beaten garden which has severed production and therefore needs spraying weeding and irrigation.”

In the mean time, police management should give officers “a clear picture on standards of operations and in all police work aspects”, advised Odwe.

But for now, as Mareike Le Pelley, the Country Director for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, put it in her opening remarks, “police is still seen at the forefront of violating Human Rights” and

“Insecurity has been and still is a recurring theme in Uganda, so much so that many Ugandana are willing to forego many other needs as long as long as their security is guaranteed.”

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