Former Kampala Metropolitan Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commission of Police (ACP) Siraj Bakaleke has made a surprising return to Uganda, almost five years after he fled the country following allegations of wrongful arrest and confinement of two South Korean nationals.
In 2018, ACP Bakaleke was suspended from duty to allow investigations into the alleged fraud of Shs1.4 billion from the South Koreans, who had come to Uganda in search of gold. He fled the country after being declared Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) by police management.
The police subsequently issued instructions to search for him, and he was declared a deserter two months after an arrest warrant was served by the Anti-Corruption Court. Bakaleke had been on the police’s wanted list for years.
After several years of being on the run, Siraj Bakaleke reported to police headquarters and recorded a statement on charges of desertion. Police spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga confirmed that Bakaleke was briefly detained and given a police bond. The file is expected to be forwarded to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal opinion.
Bakaleke was accused of fraud, kidnap, and abuse of office alongside a lawyer and six other police officers. The South Koreans were arrested from a mall in Kampala and detained at Katwe Police Station. They were later informed that they were facing terrorism charges and would be deported.
Reports suggest that the police officers involved in the alleged fraud bought two air tickets with Emirates air using some of the extorted money, but they missed the flight. They then bought new tickets with Rwanda Air but were caught before the South Koreans boarded the plane.
Eight of the suspects took a plea to the charges in court, but Siraj Bakaleke and the lawyer Paul Wanyoto have yet to be charged, with arrest warrants issued against them.
The return of Bakaleke to Uganda has raised questions about his motive and what he plans to do next. The case has also brought to light issues of corruption within the Ugandan police force and the need for reforms to restore public trust in law enforcement.
The resurfacing of Bakaleke serves as a reminder that justice has no expiry date, and fugitives from justice can never rest easy. The Ugandan government and its law enforcement agencies must work together to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and justice is served.
In conclusion, the return of ACP Siraj Bakaleke to Uganda after almost five years on the run is a significant development in the case of alleged fraud, kidnap and abuse of office. The government and the law enforcement agencies must work together to ensure that justice is served and the rule of law prevails. It is an opportunity to restore public trust in the police force and to demonstrate that no one is above the law.