Twelve of the fourteen senior UPDF officers accused of embezzling Arrow Boys salary arrears have been convicted and handed sentences ranging from three to five months confinement.
A Court Martial session sitting at Bugema’s UPDF 3rd Division Infantry Headquarters in Mbale on Monday convicted them for embezzling more than UGX 40 million. The sentence will be served from Makindye Military Prison.
Court chaired by Col. John Tumwebaze ruled that the twelve were guilty of stealing more than UGX 40 million part of the UGX 1.1 billion that was sent by Ministry of Defense for payment of the 14 month salary arrears for Arrow Boys, a local militia that helped fight the LRA rebels from Teso sub region.
The convicts include Major Francis Musana, Major Hannington Kibula, Major Charles Kawa, Major Godfrey Bizibu, Major Innocent Kamurasi and Lt Gregory Eilor. They will each serve five months in prison.
Others are Lt. Stephen Otim, Capt. Govin Ogena, Sgt. Lawrence Oriokot and Corp. Richard Omeda who will serve a sentence of 4 months. Meanwhile Staff Sgt. John Chemonges and Lt. Denis Ochakacon were sentenced to three months in detention each.
They were all stripped off their peeps which will only be returned upon completion of the sentences.
The same court also exonerated Maj. Robert Biribonwa and Capt. Justine Erikori who were jointly charged with the convicts. Court freed them after they were found innocent and were asked to resume work at their various units.
The officers were arrested on July 18, 2007 by the late Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, who was the then Commander of the 3rd Division.
They were arraigned before the General Court Martial in Makindye and charged with two counts of theft and conspiracy to theft. They pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The court in Makindye then transferred the case to the 3rd Division Court martial in Mbale because of the proximity of the complainants and witnesses. In their first appearance in Mbale in 2007, they were all granted bail.
Persecution found out that the officers most of who were commanders of the arrows boys battalions in Ongonoja, Amagoro and Obalanga in Katakwi and Amuria districts respectively were meant to pay each militiaman a total of UGX 840, 000 but ended up paying the personnel less than that.
Each militia personnel were supposed to be paid UGX 60,000 for the 14 months that they went without pay.
It was also established that the Defense Ministry released UGX 1.1 Billion shillings for a total of 1,696 personnel but only 1,309 personnel were paid.
The counsel for the convicts, Emmanuel Tubiruna pleaded for leniency from court on grounds that the convicts had been out of service since 2007 when they were arrested and that this was their first crime. He also argued that they are still interested in serving the army.
It was upon this that Col. John Tumwebaze gave them lighter sentences.
However, state prosecutor Lt. Andrew Lwaca who wanted tough and deterrent sentences said the sentences were not deterrent at all for the senior officers who he argued should have acted as role models to their juniors. He says he would contact the higher army authority to appeal against the sentences.
The Arrow Boys militia was formed in 2003 to boost the efforts of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF to fight an invasion by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Teso sub region.