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Mobile Money Fueling Kidnaps in Fort Portal – Police

Godliver Twinomugisha, the Officer in Charge of the Criminal Investigations Department in Fort Portal observes that many kidnappers are using the mobile money service to ask for ransom, yet agents are not required to ask for National Identity Cards from those withdrawing money.

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Loopholes in mobile money business have promoted an increase in kidnap cases in Fort Portal, a report by the Criminal Investigations Department indicates.

Godliver Twinomugisha, the Officer in Charge of the Criminal Investigations Department in Fort Portal observes that many kidnappers are using the mobile money service to ask for ransom, yet agents are not required to ask for National Identity Cards from those withdrawing money.

Twinomugisha also notes that Fort Portal Central Police Station has no experts in ICT that would track kidnappers who use phones to demand ransom. She adds that the two challenges make it so hard for them to track down and arrest kidnap suspects.

Since the beginning of this year, three cases of kidnap have been reported to police in Fort Portal. The first victim was a one-year-old baby who was kidnapped from Nyabukara cell who was killed after the parents failed to pay a 2 million Shillings ransom. The baby's body was later dumped in Mpanga River.

The second victim was also a child kidnapped from Maguru in South Division - Fort Portal on October 23 and later dumped near St John's Cathedral, Fort Portal after the family paid 2.5 million Shillings of ransom.

On November 19, a three-year-old baby was also kidnapped from Kiculeta in South Division - Fort Portal and dumped near Kalya Courts in Fort Portal after the family had paid a ransom of 250,000 on Thursday morning.

In all the cases, Twinomugisha says that no single suspect was arrested yet the money was exchanged through the mobile money network. She, however, says that the cases have been referred to the police headquarters in Kampala for further investigations.

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Airtel Uganda Public Relations Officer Sumini Namaganda says that the service providers cannot demand identification on mobile money transactions because it's not a requirement under the law, or even under guidelines issued by the Uganda Communications Commission – UCC.

Namaganda notes that, according to UCC, the provision of such information would violate people's right to privacy. She, however, advises that if police find this weakness ground enough to change the policies, then a law can be put in place requiring all mobile money users to present National IDs before any transaction.