Suspects Arrested Over Makerere University Fire

Authorities in Uganda have arrested two security guards over the fire that destroyed part of the country’s oldest and biggest university at the weekend.

Makerere University main building was gutted by fire just after midnight on Sunday, destroying the registry and the finance and records department.

Now, the Director of Criminal Investigations, Grace Akullo, has disclosed that two security guards have been arrested over the incident while a third officer is on the run.

Akullo and her team are investigating to establish the cause of the fire at the building which houses the institution’s key offices.

According to Akullo, it is too early to put the cause of the fire as arson or something else, yet.

She said one of the arrested police officers should have been on duty at the entrance of the Main Building which caught fire just after midnight and the other at the university’s internal security.

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“We have two security officers in our custody helping us with investigations. They should have been guarding [the university] but for some reason they were not. They have recorded statements and they are in custody,” she said in a recent interview.

Officers investigating the fire entered the office of the vice-chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, to remove documents which had not been burnt. Efforts were also made to retrieve some documents, including 28 land title deeds kept in a safe in the legal department.

“Police inquiries have commenced. We are going to investigate and find out what happened, whether it is arson or any other cause. At the moment, it is still early to say what has caused the fire,” Ms Akullo said.

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The university was in the midst preparing for its centenary celebrations slated for January 2022 when the fire razed parts of the institution.

Although the burning of the iconic building is a setback, Prof Nawangwe said it will be reconstructed before the big day.

There have been past fire incidents at the university and Prof Nawangwe said processes are underway to at least insure key buildings, the library and the senate.

“We were in the process of insuring the key buildings but because we have to go through government payment bottlenecks, and were not done when the accident happened. I am sure everybody will now support us to expedite the process,” he added.

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The university had no fire hydrants to support the firefighters who arrived to stop the inferno.

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