14 Ugandan Army Officers Court-martialed Over Corruption

October 8, 2013 4:08 pm0 comments by:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trial of top Ugandan army officials, accused of embezzling, money meant for paying militias, who fought against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels has begun.

14 senior officers of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF appeared, this morning before the third division court martial, in the eastern district of Mbale, to answer charges of theft of soldier’s salaries.

The suspects who include Major Charles Kaahwa, Major Francis Musana and Major Godfrey Bizibu are accused of paying ghosts.

Prosecution led by 2nd Lt. Fredrick Luweza told court that, the suspects spent more than 39 million shillings on paying ghosts. The money was part of the 1.1 billion shillings that government had sent to pay salaries of ‘Arrow Boys’ a local militia that fought against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern Uganda.

Arrow Boys is a group comprised, mainly of civilians who picked up arms, at the height of the LRA rebellion to defend themselves from the rebels.

Each of them was to be paid, a monthly salary of about US$25 but the money was allegedly embezzled by their commanders.

Vincent Alibu one of the prosecution witnesses, today told court, that he was approached by Major Hanington Kigula on 13th July 2007 that he had a deal where he would get free money.

“On 13th July I was called by Capt. Kigula who is now a major while I was at my home and he briefed me that there was a deal. He gave me a gun and a uniform of another person and told me to go and sign for money” Alibu said he was made to sign for about US$ 400 which was meant for paying Joseph Ochogia a registered member of the militia.

For acting as a ghost Alibu was paid approximately US$ 50 while the commanders took the rest of the money he had signed for.

Another witness, Charles Opio a civilian told court that he was taken together with other people to a military barracks where they spent two days and then later made to act as ghosts and sign for the money.

“At around, 1PM we were taken to a barracks in Ongongoja where we were given guns and uniforms, we stayed there for two days and at around 6PM they brought the money and after signing we were given our shares” the witness said they later handed the guns and he was also given his share an equivalent of US$50.

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces, has for long battled with the problem of ghosts in its payroll. At the height of the LRA insurgency in the north of the country, senior commanders were accused of inflating the payroll with ghosts.

Recently President Yoweri Museveni ordered 21 senior commanders out of Somalia due to accusation of corruption.

The commanders, who were recalled, were serving under African Union Mission in Somalia-AMISOM-were accused of selling supplies and embezzling allowances of other soldiers who are under their command.









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