Former Deputy IGP Maj. Gen. Muzeyi Sabiiti may take long to be deployed to any sensitive security docket after the mess he created which has left Uganda’s image tainted internationally.
President Yoweri Museveni is inclined to think, Sabiiti should have done better in quelling rioters who protested the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi on November 18.
What become worse was the shooting of 54 civilians both rioters and non-rioters.
The killing sparked off criticism from domestic and international human rights watch groups and foreign backers of Kyagulanyi.
The American government later issued sanctions against Sabiiti and SFC commander James Birungi. Both soldiers have been removed from their positions in a mini- reshuffle a month after the riots.
On November 17 Frank Mwesigwa, the Zonal Commander overseeing elections in Busoga and Bukedi regions warned that Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine would be arrested should he insist on addressing masses to his rally in Luuka District the next day (November 18).
And indeed Mwesigwa led an operation which saw Bobi Wine apprehended while addressing a mini-rally at Luuka district headquarters.
Mwesigwa, didn’t know that his actions could erupt riots in Kampala and other major towns as protesters demanded immediate release of Mr Kyagulanyi.
Rioters caught police off-guard. And in a panicky move to restore sanity in the central business district and other towns, police and its sister urgencies used excessive force, fired volleys of teargas, live and rubber bullets.
It resulted into death of 54 people and 800 arrested.
The killing left President Museveni mad. He wondered why police had not obtained intelligence before arresting Bobi Wine.
The President wondered why Gen. Sabiiti couldn’t penetrate these groups which masterminded the protests since it appeared as organized crime.
The riots found Museveni combing the Eastern Region for votes and he was residing in Mbale. He thus invited Sabiiti for Q&A.
A furious Museveni asked if that young man (Frank Mwesigwa) had briefed his superiors before taking a decision which could have ended NRM’s 34 year rule.
Sabiiti said, he had given Mwesigwa ago ahead to arrest Kyagulanyi after he made his assessment that he had been a threat and he maintained in assembling massive crowds in the middle of a pandemic.
According to a source privy to the Mbale meeting, Museveni was terribly angry with Sabiiti.
Asked if he had coordinated with other sister security agencies before ordering arrest, Sabiiti said no.
Museveni according to the source, before sanctioning Kyagulanyi’s arrest, Sabiiti should have informed Military Police, SFC and also notify the CDF so that a heavy deployment is made to avoid mistakes and combat any possible riots.
Museveni reminded Sabiiti that the role of the DIGP is not only police but goes beyond to politics.
In his two years of service Sabiiti must have penetrated the NUP establishment and be ahead of Bobi Wine.
Museveni cited Gen. Aronda as one of the commanders who used civilians very clandestinely to obtain intelligence.
Museveni further questioned Sabiiti’s laid back character and said he wouldn’t manage the police.
Museveni further reiterated that the NRM doesn’t kill its opponents and what happened to shoot 54 people simply exposed Sabiiti as not good enough to run police.
The President then alerted Sabiiti to prepare to handover “very soon.”
And on December 16, changes were announced in the Police as Museveni renewed IGP Okoth Ochola’s contract while Sabiiti was replaced by Paul Lokech. In his message Museveni applauded the army for defeating the rioters and indirectly justified Sabiiti’s removal that police officers who don’t want to protect Ugandans will be sent home.
At 45, Maj. Gen. Muzeyi Sabiiti could be one of the youngest high-ranking military officials to be sent into retirement unless otherwise.