July 4, 2013

SOMALIA: UPDF Boss In Trouble Over Soldiers Allowances

A former commander of the Ugandan military contingent in Somalia is in trouble for alleged fraud.

Col. Edison Muhanguzi, who served as the commander of the Ugandan fighting group-UGBAG 10/11 of the African Union Mission in Somalia, is accused of misappropriating money meant for paying allowances of soldiers under his command.

Each AMISOM soldier is entitled to a cash allowance of 200 US dollars for working in a hazardous environment but sources in Baidoa, Somalia claim that Muhanguzi was instead paying soldiers who are under his command only 100 dollars.

The sources, who did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the military, say Col. Muhanguzi is also accused of selling food rations offered by the United Nations to AMISOM soldiers.

He reportedly appeared before a court-martial in Baidoa and was sent back to Uganda for further prosecution. Muhanguzi has not yet commented on the story.

The army is also still tightlipped on the incident.

Major Henry Obbo, the Spokesperson of the Ugandan Contingent in Somalia, dismissed the report as false. Obbo explained that there is no way Col Muhanguzi could have embezzled soldiers’ allowances because it’s reportedly paid direct into their bank accounts.

He says payments of the AMISOM allowances are done by African Union through the central bank of the country where the soldiers originate.

Obbo who referredi our reporter to his superior Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda the Army and Defense Spokesperson, says the soldiers are entitled to an allowance of 1028 US dollars and not 200 as claimed by the sources in Somalia.

Ankunda was reluctant to comment on the allegation but later confirmed that indeed the case is being investigated by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. He however insisted that the story should not be published until he gets the details from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence-CMI.

The allegations come at a time that the commander in chief President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has made changes in AMISOM command replacing the long-serving Contingent Commander Brigadier Michael Ondoga with Brigadier Dick Olum.

Just two days ago, the deputy director of the Uganda Media Centre, Col Shaban Bantariza, was remanded for alleged fraud and misuse of property belonging to the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi

1 thought on “SOMALIA: UPDF Boss In Trouble Over Soldiers Allowances

  1. What is happening these days? It seems that either the government has become embarrassed by the excesses of the thieves and is now embarking on a course of naming and shaming the few that are considered expendable as a PR exercise for the benefit of foreign donors and other outspoken critics or this is a deliberate purge of those people who are considered a potential (direct) risk to the power base. Be that as it may, I am reminded of the domino effect.

    To compound this, Akunda insists that the story should not be published. It seems to me that this is clearly a story that has an underlying “public interest” argument. To fail to report it or indeed to gag it would suggest that UPDF and by necessary implication the government has something to hide. If as Obbo says the money is paid directly into soldiers bank accounts, all Ankunda need do is confirm this and put the matter to bed.

    Unless of course what Obbo says is not true, but if it is, then perhaps the amounts paid are less than what was reported. Going by his alleged rebuttal the sum paid is US $1028 and not US $200, a significant difference that I am sure only raises more questions than it answers.

    Whichever way you look at it I think the public is entitled to know. Indeed the media has kept us informed of other high profile cases of allegations of fraud. Does the army belong to a special class entitling it to deal with these allegations without scrutiny and accountability?

    I think our leaders should not forget one of the fundamental principles of physics espoused in Newton’s Third Law. For those who were not paying attention during physics lessons or were not fortunate (for whatever reason) to attend these classes it states “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. A more familiar adage is “what goes around, comes around”.

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