On the 8th of this month, the country was once again rocked by the death of another big personality in the country. ASP Mohammed Kirumira was gunned down by unknown assailants as he made his way back home in Bulenga, Wakiso district. It was the same method of operation. Approach stealthily on motorcycles, pull out guns, fire rapidly on the victim or victims in the case and then get away without so much as a police or civilian car in pursuit. This was after government observed that these kinds of killings will not be witnessed again in the country. Of course, commander in Chief President Yoweri Museveni rushed to the scene of crime to ascertain the death of the fire brand police officer in person.
Of course for many people and indeed Uganda at large, the death of Kirumira many of whom believe was behind the revelation of the so called “bean weevils” in the police and other security agencies must have been one of the many various reasons behind his violent death. As usual, government responded with a raft of measures to respond to this crime. This time, it was the registration of all sport bikes that government believes are being used to carry out these killings on prominent Ugandans. The registration exercise was announced by the director of traffic Police Dr. Stephen Kasiima and is supposed to end on the 15th of this month. Of course the biggest question in all of this is whether this new method of preventing gun crime will work. Let’s look at some of the previous methods that have been enacted in the wake of such murders.
After the murder of the late AIGP Felix Kaweesi, government ordered for the registration of all SIM cards owned by Ugandans. This, government stated at that time was for security agencies to monitor phone calls to nab suspected criminals. However, where as government proceeded to cut off some of the SIM cards that had not been registered at the time, politicians and the general population criticised this move, noting that they needed to be given enough time to register their sim-cards. Government responded to this plea and the shut down exercise was rolled back.
Whether Ugandans actually registered their sim-cards after that is still up to debate because a few months later the rampant murders of women and young girls in parts of Entebbe and Wakiso called the whole operation into question. The understanding of many Ugandans was that security agencies should be using the data of registered SIM cards to track down the killers. Security agencies remained quite on the matter until the kidnap and murder of Suzan Magara, daughter to tycoon and businessman John Magara. This time, the fury from the public was real and palpable. Every Ugandan was wondering whether the SIM card registration exercise was being used to effect at all.
This time, President Museveni banned the selling and replacement of SIM cards by street vendors and telecom branches unless the clients presented proof of registration via use of the national identification card. This order of cause stalled business for both the telecom companies and Ugandans especially those who had the misfortune of having their phones stolen during that period of time. For one to have their SIM card replaced, they had to first go for verification at NIRA, then pay the money to replace their SIM cards in the bank as opposed to the telecoms as it had been in the past. Due to the loss of billions of shillings due to these directives [ Daily Monitor, Saturday, April 7th 2018], the telecoms appealed to court and government over this matter and the directives were repealed. Telecom companies were once again allowed to sell and replace SIM cards for their clients but of course some of the conditions were maintained like proof of verification.
All was well and quite in the country after this that is until the assassination of Arua municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga on June this year same style. Abiriga who was leaving his home in Matugga was gunned down in the late evening, his death sending shock waves across the country at a time when the country was still mired in the age limit debacle. Again the President was on site to receive information concerning the death of the NRM loyal supporter. This time, Ugandans did not have any kind words for government declaring it ineffectual and unable to protect their lives. This continued assassinations forced the President to this time address parliament and the country at large even though he had just finished an official state of the nation address one day before the murder of Abiriga.
This time President Museveni ordered for the installation of security cameras in different areas of the country, the registration of all bodaboda operators in the country in addition to giving them numbered helmets for easy identification. Museveni further ordered them to stop wearing jackets, hoodies and other items of clothing for easy identification by members of the public. The implication that they were part of the ring that was murdering Ugandans in broad day light did not sit well with the bodaboda operators but they decided to comply with the directives. Of course at this point, many Ugandans new that these directives were not going to be effective at all. Their suspicions were proved correct with the murder of ASP Mohammed Kirumira last weekend. Even though the security cameras have been installed, they have not yet started working which maybe one may be forced to argue that the perpetrators may have used it a chance to carry out their gruesome job.
Of course, owners of all motor sport bikes, big mikes locally known as kunama all heeded the President’s call and have started registering their bikes with police stations across the country and we were there to witness this registration exercise. Of course with no official report on how these murders are being carried out, it’s possible that the President is only issuing directives based on information that is picked from witnesses at the crime of scene. In any case, since the murder of AIGP Felix Kaweesi, it has always been claimed that the assailants use high powered motorcycles to carry out the murders instead of those regular bodabodas. So who knows, maybe the President is on to something this time around. Only time will tell.
RIP Mohammed Kirumira. May your stay shine bright.