Former Kampala Metropolitan Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commission of Police (ACP) Siraj Bakaleke has resurfaced nearly five years after he fled the country over wrongful arrest and confinement of Korean nationals.
ACP Bakaleke fled the country in 2018 after he was suspended from duty in May to pave way for investigations into the alleged fraud of Shs1.4 billion from two South Korean nationals; Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu Un, who had come to Uganda on a gold hunt early in the year.
On November 19, 2018, police management declared him Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) after more than 30 days of allegedly being away from duty.
Police then issued instructions to the District Police Commander of Buyende, to search for Bakaleke at his father’s home in Innuula Village, Bugaya Sub County and advise him to report to his duty station before November 25, 2018, failure of which, he would be declared a deserter and wanted.
Buyende District Police Commander in his report said the search in his area of jurisdiction was futile. The report was handed to the Director of Human Resource Administration.
He was then declared a deserter two months after the police was served with an arrest warrant from the Anti-Corruption Court to produce him to face charges of fraud, kidnap and abuse of office.
“After several years he reported to police headquarters and he was forwarded to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations where he recorded a statement on charges of desertion. Desertion is a criminal offence and when you desert from the force and you are declared a deserter after 21 days and after that you become wanted. So, for all these years he was on our wanted list for desertion,” Police spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga told journalists on Monday.
Mr Enanga said Bakaleke was briefly detained and given a police bond.
“So we expect the file to go to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today (April 3, 2023) and then we shall be guided by the legal opinion of the DPP because there was a file of obtaining money by false pretence allegedly involving him and some Koreans. The file had been set aside because the alleged [key] suspect Bakaleke was not around. So, we shall be guided by the office of the DPP on that,” Mr Enanga added.
The South Koreans who were on a gold hunt were arrested from Acacia Mall in Kampala where they were due to meet their lawyer. Reports indicated that on the day of the meeting, the dealers were surrounded by security operatives, put on gunpoint and asked to hand over the money in their possession.
A total of Shs1.4 billion was handed over to the police officers before the two South Koreans were arrested and detained at Katwe Police Station. They were later told that they were facing terrorism charges and would be deported.
It later turned out that the deployment had been sanctioned by ACP Bakaleke after a tip-off from the lawyer who indicated that two of his clients were involved in dubious activities and he had a suspicion that they were financial terrorists.
The police officers reportedly bought two air tickets with Emirates air using some of the extorted money. But they missed the flight, creating confusion among the plotters of the deportation. They hurriedly bought new tickets with Rwanda Air but were netted before the South Koreans boarded the plane.
Before he became a fugitive, Bakaleke was accused of fraud, kidnap 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.
While eight of the suspects took a plea to the charges in court, Bakaleke and lawyer Paul Wanyoto have yet to be charged with arrest warrants issued against the two of them.