Crime preventers are crying foul after being “used and misused” in President Yoweri Museveni’s war against his former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi.
About 80 crime preventers from Gulu, Amuru and Nwoya districts were on Tuesday ferried to Kampala to boost the swelling numbers that attended Museveni’s Kololo public rally.
Daily Monitor quotes a crime preventer saying the Gulu District police commander, Martin Okoyo, assembled and used them as supporters of Museveni against their will.
Aboard Gulu Senior Secondary School and Gulu University Faculty of Agriculture buses, they were told, they were being transported to Lira district for a pass out ceremony.
“When we reached on Tuesday, we were handed yellow T-Shirts and caps as supporters of President Museveni.”
Okoyo denied the allegation.
Crime preventers in Gulu were also forced into joining protests against presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi.
Abandoned, not paid
They spent two days in Kampala boosting Museveni’s crowds without any decent meal.
“We were only given sodas and bottles of water,” crime preventers allege.
NRM deputy treasurer, Kenneth Omona, said he had no facilitation for them because the party had not invited crime preventers.
Even the vehicles that brought them melted away on learning the crime preventers were not paid.
The group says while it attend anti-Mbabazi demonstration in Gulu, Kamdini earlier this year, they are yet to receive any form of remuneration.
“We are always made to present ourselves the way bosses want. Like being a supporter of something or being against something,” they told Uganda Radio Network.
“And despite all that, we were given nothing, if it continues like this, then it is better I go back to my old job where I was earning Shs 150,000.”
The Aswa police commander, Wilson Kwanya, denied the charge.
Aswa Regional Police spokesperson, Patrick Jimmy Okema, told URN that crime prevention is purely voluntary.
“I want to encourage the crime preventers out there to do what is expected of them. They should put at the back of their mind, their roles as crime preventers is not really a work that you expect payment,” Okema said.
He added: “It is a voluntary work, it is for the best of you people in the community where you came from. But if you shy away and maybe start demanding money, definitely you will be doing a disservice to the people in your area.”
Arrested altering register
Last week, a group of youth calling themselves members of the National Crime Preventers Forum were arrested in Mpigi District trying to update the national voters’ registers.
The crime preventers, who were later released on police bond, were operating in the sub-counties of Nkozi, Kituntu and Buwama.
In September, the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, met crime preventers at their Wandegeya headquarters with intelligence that Mbabazi had infiltrated the Electoral Commission.
Kayihura told crime preventers he has received an intelligence report indicating that Mbabazi “penetrated and influenced” some officials at the Electoral Commission to disorganise the voters register.
According to the intelligence report, the officials who Kayihura didn’t name, changed pictures of individual voters and turned the register upside down.
Kayihura issued orders to the National Youth Crime Preventers Forum (NCPF) boss, Blaise Kamugisha, directing him to start an urgent exercise of verifying voters afresh village per village in all districts across the country.
Kamugisha would work with District Police Commanders [DPCs], crime preventers’ coordinators and sub county leaders to ensure this exercise is swift and successful.
While Fulgensio Betongyeza, the Katonga Regional police commander, believed the crime preventers were altering registers illegally, one of the victims detained at at Kayabwe Police Post told Daily Monitor that they were assigned to update the register by their commander, Kamugisha.
“We are not criminals. We are here to do official work and if our presence was not communicated officially to the local leaders, we apologise for that,” he said.
However, Flavia Mujulizi, the Mpigi District Electoral Commission registrar, said the activity was illegal because it was conducted without their knowledge.