50 UPDF deserters have voluntarily surrendered to Bugema army tactical headquarters in Mbale district over the last two weeks, Red Pepper Online has learnt.
It follows an ongoing operation by the army to crack on 400 deserters in Eastern region. Lt Jimmy Omara, the UPDF 3rd Division Spokesperson notes that several deserters have been forced to handover themselves due to the heightened operations. He says Sebei has the highest number of deserters. Others are from Mbale, Manafwa, Busia, Sironk and Bududa amongst others.
He advises other UPDF deserters still holed up in the villages to surrender to the army adding that, unauthorized absence from the work station was a crime. He says those found guilty of desertion face a jail term less than three years according to the UPDF act. Omara also notes that those found guilty to have deserted with military ware can be sentenced to life imprisonment or death depending on the discretion of court. Earlier, 45 deserters from Teso region and Karamoja were arrested and transferred to Mbale.
A few in Moroto were transferred to Gulu to face the Unit Disciplinary Courts as the campaign to hunt deserters continues. The move to apprehend deserters follows a message sent to all division headquarters last April to forcefully hunt for over 700 deserters in the country. Meanwhile, the 3rd Division Court Martial sitting in Mbale last Friday chaired by Col. John Mwebaze jailed two soldiers over desertion. Private Benjamin Chebet was sentenced to one and half years.
He will serve his sentence in Makindye Military Detention Centre. While, Warrant Officer II Matiira Bosco will serve his two months at the quarter guard in Bugema barracks.