Police Officer Convicted for Neglect of Duty in 2018 Arua Chaos
West Nile Zonal Field Force Unit Commander Robert Junena Okia has been convicted of neglect of duty, and disobeying lawful orders, in the heat of political campaigns in Arua municipality.
The charges stem from the chaos that dominated the last day of campaigns ahead of the Arua Municipality by-election in August 2018 leading to the arrest of several members of the opposition.
The arrested individuals, led by Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, were accused of obstructing President Yoweri Museveni's motorcade and pelting stones that smashed the windscreen of one of the vehicles in the convoy. The President was in Arua to campaign for Nusura Tiperu, a candidate for the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party.
In the aftermath, one Yasin Kawuma, a driver was shot dead while the arrested individuals were charged with treason. The Police Disciplinary Court also started parallel proceedings against six police officers for failing to control the crowds and putting the president's safety at risk.
In a judgment delivered this morning, the head of the police disciplinary court SCP Dennis Odongpiny was mainly convicted for failing to use the manpower and equipment at his disposal, to provide security to the President and disregarding orders from the Regional Police Commander Jonathan Musinguzi to use water guns as opposed to live bullets in containing the crowd.
In his mitigation statement, Junena, 56, said that for more than 30 years of service in the police force, he has not had any case of indiscipline against him. He added that besides suffering from diabetes, he is the sole breadwinner in his family with four children and several dependents.
However, Police Prosecutor Stephen Ibanda said that although he sympathizes with the police officer, issues to do with the security and safety of the President are of serious nature and shouldn't be taken lightly.
The prosecutor further submitted that such negligence should never be encouraged. He prayed to the court to pass a severe punishment against Junena as a deterrent on him and other officers never to play around with the security and safety of the President. His sentence will be announced on Tuesday.