Siraj Bakaleke, a former Kampala Metropolitan Regional Police Commander and Assistant Commission of Police (ACP), has returned to the country nearly five years after fleeing the country over the wrongful arrest and confinement of Korean nationals.
ACP Bakaleke fled the country in 2018 after being suspended from duty in May to allow for investigations into the alleged theft of Shs1.4 billion from two South Korean nationals, Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu Un, who had come to Uganda earlier in the year on a gold hunt.
After more than 30 days of alleged absence from duty, police management declared him Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) on November 19, 2018.
Police then directed the District Police Commander of Buyende to look for Bakaleke at his father’s home in Innuula Village, Bugaya Sub County, and advise him to report to his duty station by November 25, 2018, or he would be declared a deserter and wanted.
According to the Buyende District Police Commander’s report, the search in his jurisdiction was fruitless. The report was delivered to the Human Resource Administration Director.
He was declared a deserter two months later after the police were served with an arrest warrant from the Anti-Corruption Court ordering him to appear in court to face charges of fraud, kidnapping, and abuse of office.
“After a few years, he reported to police headquarters and was transferred to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, where he recorded a statement on desertion charges.”
Desertion is a criminal offence, and when you leave the force and are declared a deserter after 21 days, you become wanted. So he was on our wanted list for desertion for all these years,” Police spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga told journalists on Monday.
Bakaleke was briefly detained and given a police bond, according to Mr Enanga. “So we anticipate that the file will be sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today (April 3, 2023), and we will be guided by the DPP’s legal opinion because there was a file of obtaining money by false pretence allegedly involving him and some Koreans.
“Because the alleged [key] suspect Bakaleke was not present, the file had been set aside. So, in that regard, we will be guided by the DPP’s office,” Mr Enanga added.
Bakaleke’s predicament The South Koreans were apprehended from Acacia Mall in Kampala, where they were scheduled to meet with their lawyer.
According to reports, the dealers were surrounded by security operatives on the day of the meeting, held at gunpoint, and asked to hand over the money in their possession. Before the two South Koreans were arrested and detained at Katwe Police Station, a total of Shs1.4 billion was handed over to police officers.
They were later informed that they were being deported due to terrorism charges. It was later revealed that ACP Bakaleke authorised the deployment after receiving information from a lawyer that two of his clients were involved in questionable activities and that he suspected they were financial terrorists.
Using some of the extorted funds, the police officers allegedly purchased two airline tickets with Emirates. However, they missed the flight, causing confusion among the deportation plotters. They hurriedly purchased new Rwanda Air tickets but were caught before the South Koreans boarded the plane.
Bakaleke was accused of fraud, kidnapping, and abuse of office alongside the lawyer Paul Wanyoto Mugoya, Nabeta Samuel Mulowooza, the Managing Director of Eye Power Engineering Company, and police officers Robert Munezero, Innocent Nuwagaba, Robert Ray Asiimwe, Junior Amanya, Babu Gastavas, and Kenneth Zirintuusa before fleeing.
While eight of the suspects pleaded guilty in court, Bakaleke and lawyer Paul Wanyoto have yet to be charged despite arrest warrants being issued for the two of them.