At least 16 men who turned up in Moroto for recruitment into the army were sent away for lack of a complete dental formula.
The group was disbanded on Tuesday after passing a physical fitness test only to discover later that they lacked several teeth in their mouth.
Rajab Lokol, a victim and a resident of Moroto Municipality says the move was unfair to him. He explains that he lost teeth due to the Karimojong culture. He explains that decades ago the elders would remove two lower teeth for oral treatment.
The Karimojong have a culture of removing some teeth, a practice that is believed to have started in the 1880s when diseases associated with locking jaws almost wiped out the community.
Lokol adds that disease was the cause of teeth extraction in the sub region to allow them feed orally. He notes that teeth extraction has since thrived within Karamoja clans.
But Lt. Daniel Kavuma, a Senior UPDF Instructor at Kaweweta Military Training School in Nakaseke, who is overseeing the recruitment exercise in Eastern Uganda, defends the move to block the youths from joining the army.
“Recruiting someone with deformities into the forces is a liability.” he said adding that “Such a person will be a burden to government in terms of expenditure of acquiring him artificial teeth in case of any foreign mission.”
Meanwhile, 51 people were successfully recruited into UPDF out of over 300 who turned up for the three-day exercise in the districts of Napak, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Amudat.
Lt. Jimmy Omara, the UPDF 3rd Division Spokesperson, wonders why women did not participate in the exercise with only six recruited in Karamoja. He urged the remaining areas of Teso, Bugisu and others to send in their daughters to join the forces.
The UPDF seeks to recruit 532 people from 26 districts in Eastern Uganda out of the 3,000 they need nationwide.
Two days ago, at least 500 youths were turned away from recruitment in West Nile in what army officers called cases of presenting forged academic papers and failing medical tests.