20 UPDF officers face court over food theftSeptember 16, 2013 // admin1 // News in English
By Risdel Kasasira
President Museveni has summarily recalled at least 24 UPDF officers from Mogadishu including Brig Michael Ondoga, the Commander of the Ugandan forces in Somalia, over alleged sale of food meant for soldiers. Sources told the Daily Monitor that the President has also cancelled Brig Ondoga’s new appointment as military attaché to Nairobi and ordered that he and 23 others face court martial.
Brig Ondoga was supposed to handover to Brig Dick Olum at the end of this month to assume his new diplomatic job in Kenya. But this new order might see him and 23 others begin long court battles in Uganda over alleged mismanagement of soldiers’ logistics.
This followed an investigation by the military intelligence over reports of corruption involving top army officers in Mogadishu selling food and fuel. The army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, confirmed the order of the Commander-in-Chief, saying further investigations will be carried out “with the view to prosecute them”. “We cannot judge them now. They are still suspects,” he said.
The accused officers will arrive in the country tomorrow and have been ordered to report to the headquarters of Commander Land Forces for “action”. Other senior officers to stand trial include the Ugandan contingent Intelligence officer, Lt Col Sam Kirya, the Logistic Officer, Capt Joy Atugonza and the Operations Officer, Lt Col Chris Ogwal.
Mid June, this newspaper broke the story that Ugandan soldiers deployed on a peace-keeping mission in Somalia often take one meal a day following alleged theft and selling of food by commanders. In Kampala, the High Command reportedly called for tougher sanctions against the commanders.
All the soldiers under the Uganda Battle Group 10 (UGABAG10) commanders were either suspended or moved back home before the end of the contingent’s time in Somalia.
UPDF has been praised for taking a lead role in pacifying Somalia and thousands of Somalis in exile are returning home to rebuild their country after 20 years of insurgency. Sources say President Museveni was angered by these corruption reports and wants “punitive measures” be taken against these officers.
Sources say food was being sold to private companies operating in main base camp of African Union Mission in Somalia. Uganda has more than 6,000 troops in Somalia, making it the country with highest number of African Union troops. Other countries with troops in Somalia include Burundi, Kenya, Sierra Leon and Djibouti.