Parliament's Health Committee Summons New IGP Ochola
Three senior police officers were today kicked out of Parliament's Health Committee after they appeared without the newly appointed Inspector General of Police (IGP) John Martin Okoth-Ochola. IGP Okoth-Ochola was expected before the Health Committee chaired by Bukuya County MP, Micheal Bukenya. to explain the delayed investigations into 13 reported cases of unauthorised and counterfeit drugs found in different pharmacies.
The Health Committee is currently considering a petition by pharmacy owners under their umbrella body- the Uganda Pharmacy Owners Association (UPOA) - in which the pharmacists fault the National Drug Authority (NDA) for failing to curb illegal drug shops, and unfair guidelines among others.
However, while appearing before the committee last week, NDA Board Chairman Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo told MPs that the drug Authority had several cases with Police which are not yet fully investigated to enable them bring culprits to book. Some of the cases which are still being investigated by police include that of assorted unauthorised drugs found with 10 pharmacies including Wilbert Pharmacy, Nakasero Hospital, Pine Pharmacy, Ecopharm, Lwadda Pharmacy, Silicon Medical Centre, Plus Medic Pharmacy, Buffaalo Pharmacy, Escorts Pharmacy, Guardian Health Pharmacy and Caseplus Pharmacy.
The others are cases against Shuub Pharmacy Kawempe which was found selling counterfeit and unregistered Postinor and Astra Pharmacy found with expired drugs. But with the absence of IGP Okoth-Ochola to give explanations for the delayed investigations, the committee declined to receive submissions from three police officers including the Senior Commissioner of Police Joseph Obwona, the deputy director Criminal Investigation, Detective Superintendent Zalugaba Tinka who is the acting Commissioner Anti-Narcotics and a law enforcement officer attached to NDA, Josephine Alupo.
The MPs demanded that the IGP appears on Thursday together with the Director criminal investigations, Grace Akullo, to give explanations for the delayed investigation of cases. Kasambya County MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa said that in an internal committee meeting on Tuesday, they agreed to have the IGP appear to give explanations and not any other police officer.
The Deputy Director Criminal Investigations, Joseph Obwona, told the committee that the IGP could not appear due to official duty but had delegated AIGP Grace Akullo to represent him. Akullo was also reportedly busy hence delegating him to appear before the committee. However, the Health Committee Chairperson Dr. Micheal Bukenya insisted that the matter dealing with fake drugs on the market was so important demanding the immediate appearance of the IGP. He then directed the three police officers to take leave.