The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) in Aswa river region is investigating the management of Kitgum district police for granting an inmate unregulated access to government vehicles.
The inquiry follows the wide circulation of a photograph of an inmate dressed in the prisoners’ yellow uniform riding a police motorcycle registration number UP 4232 in the heart of Kitgum town.
The photo went viral on social media over the weekend attracting wide public condemnation and criticism of police.
A source within PSU says police is being criticised for endangering the life of Babylon Anywar, the inmate who was riding the bike by allowing him to ride unaccompanied to town.
“We also think that the inmate could have disappeared with the government vehicle. We also want to know whether the inmate was indeed duly paid for his services,” a source who preferred anonymity stated.
Patrick Jimmy Okema, the police spokesperson for Aswa river region, confirmed the investigation saying PSU is interested in general circumstances surrounding the incident. He says the investigation is being done under file reference PSU/Aswa/GEF/47/2017.
“He is now being engaged in income generating activities to raise money to start a living if he leaves prison tomorrow. Therefore he was testing the bike to see if it is OK and at the same time he’d gone to buy spare parts.
However, it sounds strange, we are therefore investigating circumstances under which this man went to buy spare parts yet he could have recommended that I need this kind of spare part and somebody [else] would have gone to buy”, Okema said.
Okema says police will not hesitate to punish the officer in charge of the bike if found to have violated vehicle handling procedures.
ASP Moses Okello, the Kitgum police commander said he was travelling to discuss the matter with URN when contacted for a comment on phone.
However, prisons authorities released a statement in defense of the police. Allan Okello, the Aswa river region prisons commander, says police had sought the services of the mechanic to have the motorbike fixed under an emergency situation.
“What you saw on social media regarding the prisoner who was riding the motorcycle in Kitgum is normal, so I think there must have been an emergency in the police so they sought the service of the mechanic who was a prisoner at the time.
He repairs motorcycles especially ours the paralegals. I personally know the prisoner I even found him repairing motorcycles. So I think the police must have had a problem or an emergency and sought for the services of the nearest mechanic – [who] is the prisoner. But how he left to go and look for spare parts that is not mine [to answer]”, he said.
It has emerged that Anywar is serving a five-year prison sentence for loss of a client motorbike from his garage in Kitgum town.
Source: Uganda Radio Network