Police have ordered the arrest of Sheema District Police Commander over the release of rally driver Ponsiano Lwakataka who was arrested last Friday with alleged immature fish enroute to Democratic Republic of Congo.
The order to arrest Mr Innocent Mubangizi came from the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura yesterday.
Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi confirmed the directive to arrest Mubangizi.
“The Inspector General of Police [Gen Kayihura] has ordered for the arrest of the DPC and any other officers that aided Lwakataka’s release and export of immature fish. It was irregular for the DPC to release the suspect brought for custody by a sister government agency,” Mr Kaweesi said by telephone.
Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] law enforcement officers and police engaged in running battles with Lwakataka and his group for more than 20km on the Mbarara-Bushenyi highway before arresting him and taking him to Kabwohe Police Station.
He was also accused of pointing a gun at a driver hired by URA to drive the impounded fish-loaded truck back to Mbarara Town.
Lwakataka is alleged to have forced the driver out and personally driven away the truck with URA and police mounting a chase until he was apprehended in the dusty village roads.
However, Lwakataka was released shortly after being booked into custody at Kabwohe Police Station. But Mubangizi defended the release of Lwakataka, saying there was no basis for keeping him in jail.
“There was no complainant in this case and there was no reason to keep the suspect in cells. The case registered was drawing a firearm by Lwakataka at someone,” Mr Mubangizi told Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday.
A Fuso truck registration UAY 123R was stopped by URA law enforcement team at a checkpoint in Mbarara Town but it defied the instructions to stop and proceeded.
“This prompted URA staff to chase the truck drivers who tried to block the URA vehicle to overtake,” Mr Kaweesi said.
The truck, police and URA say, belonging to Lwakataka, was carrying immature fish from Gabba, Kampala destined to DR Congo.
He and his team ran into a nearby bush upon realising the road ahead had been blocked by URA.
URA hired another driver to take the truck back to Mbarara. However, a short distance ahead, URA said, Lwakataka who had been following his merchandise in a car, intercepted the truck and allegedly pointed a pistol at the driver, forcing him out before taking control of it.
Upon arrest, Lwakataka was handcuffed and taken to Kabwohe Police Station.
In the night, he was released with his alleged immature fish despite the fact that Sheema District Fisheries Office Denis Mukundane had written a report to police and copied it to URA recommending that Lwakataka be prosecuted on charges of trading in immature fish.
“I left the suspect and lorry full of immature fish with police. When I went back the following day on Saturday, the lorry and the suspect were not there. I have played my part, what remains is police to carry out the prosecution,” he said.
Mr Kaweesi yesterday said Gen Kayihura ordered an investigation into the sale of alleged immature fish and the mysterious release of Lwakataka from police custody.
“We cannot salvage fish because it has now crossed into DR Congo but we are looking for Lwakataka to be rearrested and he faces the law,” he said.
However, by press time, it was not readily established whether DPC Mubangizi had been arrested.
The URA spokesperson, Ms Sarah Birungi Banage downplayed the Lwakataka incident.