Kampala- The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, was due last evening to meet senior police officers hours after returning from a foreign trip shrouded in controversy about his health.
Highly placed sources told this newspaper that Gen Kayihura was scheduled to, among others, interface with and receive briefing from police directors and top detectives at Muyenga Community Policing Post.
He spent much of the day at his heavily-guarded home in Muyenga, an upscale city neighbourhood.
On arrival at Entebbe International Airport in the wee hours yesterday, the IGP was received by the Director of Counter Terrorism, Mr John Ndungutse, and his aide, Mr Cyrus Nkata.
In the first media comments about his reported bad health, Gen Kayihura told this newspaper before departing from the Turkish capital, Ankara, that the public’s unending inquiries about the state of his well-being showed that Ugandans cared about him.
“I am touched that people are really concerned about my life when they don’t see me around, but I am fine,” he said on Saturday.
Speculation about Gen Kayihura’s health began swirling after he, in contrast to his practice, missed attending two key national events; the President’s June 6 State-of-the-Nation Address and the follow up reading of the national budget.
His last public appearance was attending a security meeting chaired by President Museveni at State House Entebbe three weeks ago.
The claims and counter-claims about the general’s health gained traction on social media and some online publications after the Red Pepper reported in a story that he was bedridden in India.
Uganda Police Force in a June 12 statement titled, alleged sickness of IGP, noted that Kayihura was in “very good health” and that the country should not be alarmed.
“These are complete false stories invented by people with fertile imaginations. There is no iota of truth in these stories,” the statement issued by Police Spokesman, Mr Asan Kasingye, read in part.
In the latest visit to Turkey, which police said was an official trip, Gen Kayihura was not accompanied by legal and forensic officers as would be expected since the itinerary reportedly included following up on or signing new memoranda of understanding between Uganda Police Force (UPF) and the Turkish government for cooperation in, among other things, forensic science development.
Security experts, including his former deputy, Mr Julius Odwe, have previously criticised the four-star general of micro-managing police affairs, something that has enabled him morph into a behemoth over the Force over the last 12 years.
As such his absence it was feared would cause a leadership vacuum in the government’s lead agency on internal security matters.
But the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth-Ochola, who took charge while Gen Kayihura was away, said everything worked normally “as it is supposed to be”.
“My brother, I have 30 years’ experience in policing. I have been on top of things. When there is no major incident in the country that is how you can gauge how the institution is being run,” Mr Okoth-Ochola told our reporter yesterday.
His laid-back management style contrasted that of Gen Kayihura who would show up at crime scenes before or at the same time as scene of crime officers or publicly reprimand errant officers during on-the-spot checks when he is supposed to be the last officer to consult on such matters.
In his short absence, police made two key and progressive announcements: notifying officers that they would personally pay for compensation awarded to individuals they torture and ordering them to stop arresting people for the offence of being “idle and disorderly” that the Constitutional Court had nullified.
Mr Okoth-Ochola said as top manager in the police, his work is to wait for reports from his commanders and provide guidance where and when needed.
“There were no challenges. There was no stress. I am waiting to hand over to IGP (Inspector General of Police),” he said.