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UGANDA: Don’t pay ransom to kidnappers – Ochola

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Briefing. IGP Martins Okoth-Ochola addresses journalists at the police headquarters in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

KAMPALA (DAILY MONITOR) – The Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, has told Ugandans not to pay any more ransom when their relatives are kidnapped but rather alert police immediately. At his maiden security briefing since he assumed office in March this year, he dwelt at length on the growing spate of kidnaps and murders across the country.
Mr Ochola said paying ransom to kidnappers is promoting terrorism-financing.
He cited the kidnap and murder of Susan Magara in February and kidnap of Mubarak Kalenge, a Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) official, who was fortunately rescued by police.
“Our analysis indicates that these cases fall under categories which include kidnap, demand for ransom, murder to finance terrorism and kidnap for ritual sacrifice, crime of passion and self-kidnap,” Mr Ochola said.
The police chief said 42 kidnap cases have been registered in the last four months and 20 of them were self-kidnaps, seven were murder claiming eight lives. He added that eight victims were rescued alive while seven are still missing.
Mr Ochola cited cases of Halima Nabawanuka of Ssembabule District and Rose Nakisekka of Kalungu who were kidnapped and murdered after they were found unsuitable for ritual sacrifice.
He said another victim Brinah Nalule was kidnapped and murdered in crime of passion.
“We arrested suspects and a witchdoctor in the kidnap and murder of Nabawanuka and Nakisekka. The witchdoctor allegedly wanted virgin girls and the victims were killed after they were rejected for the rituals,” Mr Ochola said.
Police said one person has been charged with self-kidnap while files for other suspects are being prepared to take the accused to court. He said kidnap is a serious crime and is causing alarm in the country.
“We have established a 24/7 emergency call centre at police headquarters where kidnap cases can be reported for fast response. We have put in place toll free telephone numbers to which the public can call in case of kidnap,” Mr Ochola said.
Nakisekka, Nabawanuka and two children Israel Namalego, 4, and Dorcus Nakiwunga, 2, who were kidnapped on Friday evening and later found dead in Naluvule in Wakiso District on Monday were buried yesterday at their respective ancestral homes.
The father of Namalego and Nakiwunga told mourners that: “We reported to police [about the kidnap] on Saturday and the search continued through Sunday. At 5pm on Monday, we received information that our children had been murdered, their bodies dumped in a trench.”
Mr Ochola said joint security operations led to arrest of suspects in the Nalule murder. He said the suspects led the security team to various crime scenes where they dumped the victims’ bodies.
The IGP was asked how the public can differentiate kidnappers and ununiformed police officers effecting arrest.
Mr Ochola said people should demand them to identify themselves, arrest them if they do not or stone them if they are armed. On Monday evening, a woman was rescued from being forced into a strange vehicle at Lugogo Bypass. Later, it was established that the strangers were police detectives who had laid a trap for a government official picking a bribe.
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