Erinayo Wilson Oryema (1 January 1917 – 17 February 1977) was Uganda's first African Inspector General of Police (1964-1971), Minister of Land, Mineral, and Water Resources (1971-1974) and Minister of Land, Housing and Physical Planning (1974-1977). In February 1977, Oryema, together with Archbishop Janani Luwum and Interior Minister Charles Oboth Ofumbi, was murdered by security forces of the government of President Idi Amin.
He was the father of internationally renowned Ugandan musician Geoffrey Oryema.
Erinayo Wilson Oryema was enlisted in the Uganda Police Force in 1939. A year later he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and the following year to Sub Inspector. He made Inspector of Police in 1951, and Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1954. In 1956 he was regraded to Deputy Superintendent.
Oryema continued with his elevation through the ranks when the colonial government started identifying some African officers to take over the leadership of the force. He was promoted to the rank of Superintendent in 1961. The following year he was promoted, first to Senior Superintendent of Police, then to Assistant Commissioner of Police. In 1963 Oryema was appointed the first African Deputy Inspector General of Police, and the flollowing year, Inspector General of Police. He served in that capacity until 1971.
When Idi Amin took power in 1971, Oryema was made Minister of Minerals and Water resources, and from 1976 he served as a Minister of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning.
On 16 February 1977, Oryema, Archbishop Janani Luwum and Interior Minister Charles Oboth Ofumbi were arrested. The same day Idi Amin convened a rally in Kampala with the three accused present. A few other "suspects" were paraded forth to read out "confessions" implicating the three men for planning to stage a coup. The next day, Radio Uganda announced that the three had been killed when the car transporting them to an interrogation center had collided with another vehicle. The accident, Radio Uganda reported, had occurred when the victims had tried to overpower the driver in an attempt to escape. Henry Kyemba, Minister of Health in Amin's government, later wrote in his book A State of Blood, that "The bodies were bullet-riddled. The archbishop had been shot through the mouth and at least three bullets in the chest. The ministers had been shot in a similar way but one only in the chest and not through the mouth. Oryema had a bullet wound through the leg."
According to the later testimony of witnesses, the victims had been taken to an army barracks, where they were bullied, beaten and finally shot.
Erinayo Oryema was by the time of his death the longest serving minister in Amin’s government. The murder of Oryema and Luwum had profound effects. Their deaths made many realise that no one was safe, and shortly thereafter several of Amin’s ministers defected or fled to exile.
- The Leaders of Uganda Police Force
- "Death of an Archbishop", Time Magazine, February 28, 1977
- A state of blood: The inside story of Idi Amin (1977) Henry Kyemba
- Amin:The Wild Man of Africa, Time Magazine, March 7, 1977
- "Not even an archbishop was spared bishop was spared", The Weekly Observer, February 16, 2006
- When dying was easier than living. Daily Monitor