The elevation of Private Tom Magambo to the rank of Major and subsequent appointment as the Director for the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) has sent shockwaves in the Uganda Police Force (UPF).
On Tuesday evening, president, Yoweri Museveni replaced the CID Director, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Grace Akullo, with Maj Magambo.
Akullo has been at the helm of CID for nearly 10 years. Her replacement with a little-known newly promoted major has sparked debate in security circles.
Senior police officers have described Magambo’s appointment as demeaning to the police force since there are dozens of experienced detectives from the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police to Senior Commissioners of police fit for the job.
“Even if the move is to militarize the police, at least a person with a reasonable rank should have been appointed. It’s disrespectful to the police force to replace a distinguished police officer like Akullo with a private,” one senior police officer said.
Who is Magambo?
According to some sources, Magambo holds a Ph.D. “He is a private with a strong educational background. He is a Ph.D. holder and he had retired from the army. Magambo has been serving as the coordinator of the Eastern Africa Fusion and Liaison Unit (EA-FLU), a regional intelligence-gathering center based in Entebbe,” a senior security source said.
EA-FLU is mandated to support and facilitate regional cooperation initiatives to curb terrorism and other transnational threats posed by organized criminal groups.
According to the security sources, the EA- FLU that Magambo has been heading comprises 10 countries including Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tanzania.
Political analyst and former Director Internal Security Organization (ISO), Charles Rwomushana, claims that he underwent military training with Magambo.
“Most of our intake are Majors and captains. We have a Lt. Col in Katabazi the Deputy Director-General. Tom Magambo rose to a Director in intelligence. He was Director Analysis,” Rwomushana said.
According to other sources, Magambo has been instrumental in proactive investigations especially during the 2021 general elections, cross-border crime, and the ongoing hunt for groups involved in violent crime including recent terror incidents in Kampala.
“Magambo is not a joke. He’s been instrumental in terror investigations. Many of the suspects who have been in the hands of ISO know him,” a source said. Rwomushana confirmed the claim, saying that Magambo isn’t being introduced to something new.
“He is a trained intelligence officer well over Criminal investigations. Intelligence uses different rankings from the military and military officers serving with intelligence stay long on military rankings since they rarely access training courses,” Rwomushana added.
Away from Magambo’s shocking appointment, sources claim that Akullo’s sacking has been in the pipeline since October last year.
“We stood our ground when he was very sick last year because many people suggested that she was no longer fit to head such a critical directorate. We decided to cover all her gaps. We’re leaving this place (CID) very late doing the donkey work,” a senior detective said.
Maj Magambo becomes the sixtieth UPDF officer serving in such a top police position. Earlier on the day, Museveni appointed Maj Gen Godfrey Katsigazi Deputy IGP replacing Maj. Gen Paul Lokech who died in August last year.
Other UPDF officers in key police positions include Maj. Gen. Jack Bakasumba who is the Chief of Joint Staff, Brig. Chris Damulira who is the Director of Crime Intelligence, Col. Jesse Kamunanwire who is the Director of Human Resource Management, Col. Godfrey Golooba who is the director of Human Resource Development.
Some senior police officers argue that Museveni could be ignoring to promote senior police officers with the view of replacing them with military officers. Police last held the promotion for senior officers in February 2016 during the reign of the former IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura.
Many of the current police directors are left with two to five months to quit the force as their contracts will be expiring unless they are renewed.
So far, 10 AIGPs have retired in the last four years following the expiry of their contracts without renewal.