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Why Museveni declined to renew IGP Ochola’s contract as police boss

Kampala, (UG):- The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr John Martins Okoth Ochola on Monday handed over office to deputy IGP, Maj Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime, bringing his tenure as Police boss to an end after six years at the helm.

Ochola Monday handed over the office at a ceremonial function held at police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala. 

Ochola, who clocked the mandatory retirement age of 65, saw his contract renewal stalled till his term expired today, Monday March 04, 2024. He was appointed as IGP on March 04, 2018, replacing Gen Kale Kayihura, under whom he had served as the deputy, a similar role to his current, now acting IGP Katsigazi.

Failed renewal bid

President Museveni, the appointing authority, decided to not renew Ochola’s contract, paving the way for an internal process to select his replacement. Close associates to the IGP say Ochola spent the past few months updating his handover report. 

Despite reports initially pointing to an internal conflict within the force regarding the stalled contract renewal of the IGP, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga has often dismissed such saying the appointment of the IGP “is not influenced by external pressures or political interests.”

“Instead, eligible candidates undergo thorough evaluation by the police authority before their names are forwarded to the appointing authority, President Yoweri Museveni, who serves as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Mr Elanga said recently.

Other sources say the President might have looked at the upcoming 2026 elections as key for the selection of a new IGP, preference being an officer with military background in order to deal with the possible chaos in the elections.

Ochola’s woes

It should be noted that IGP Ochola took over at a time when the police force was under intense criticism for violation of human rights and suppression of civil liberties.

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During his reign, he disbanded several police units which were blamed for illegal arrests, detentions and participation in crimes. His reign also witnessed increased investment in security infrastructure such as security cameras and construction of housing facilities for senior officers.

Profile Background

Born on 19 September 1958, in Agumiti village, Mulanda sub-county, West Budama County, in Tororo District, Ochola attended Abweli Primary School, then Rock View Primary School and Kisoko Boys Primary School, where he sat his primary leaving examinations. He attended Namilyango College, where he obtained his high school diploma.

He studied at Makerere University, the largest and oldest public university in Uganda, where he studied law. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1983. The following year, he obtained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice, from the Law Development Centre.

Ochola went into private law practice, working as a legal assistant between October and December 1984, at the law firm of Owori and Company Advocates in Mbale Town, in the Eastern Region of Uganda. He then relocated to Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, where he worked as a legal assistant in Kampala City Council for three years.

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He joined the Uganda Police Force in January 1988 and started a nine-month basic training. At that time, he was given the rank of a cadet assistant superintendent of police. Following that training, in February 1989, he was posted to Entebbe International Airport as the officer in charge of airport security.

From there, he served at Entebbe Police Station where he remained for three years. He was then posted to police headquarters as the acting assistant commissioner of police in the legal department. He was promoted to superintendent of police and later to senior superintendent of police.

In May 2001, he was appointed the deputy director of criminal investigations and remained in that position for seven years. In 2008, he was promoted to commissioner of police. That same year, he was confirmed as director CID. In 2009, he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police.

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