Fourteen officers and men of the UPDF have been arraigned before the 3rd Division Court Martial for allegedly stealing money meant for the salary arrears of the Arrow Boys in Teso region.
The suspects, who appeared in Court on Thursday, include Major Charles Kaahwa, Major Francis Musana and Major Godfrey Bizibu who were commanding officers of the then Arrow Boys Battalions in Magoro, Ongongoja and Obalanga sub counties in Katakwi and Amuria districts respectively.
Others are Major Robert Balibona, Maj. Hanington Kigula, Maj. James Kamurasi, Capt. Ogena Gigio, Capt. Richard Omeda, Capt. Justine Eilor, Lt. D.O Ochakacon, Lt. Gregory Rwentaro, Lt. Stephen Otim Staff Sgt. Chemonges and Sgt. Lawrence Oriokot.
The suspects are accused of stealing more than 40 million shillings part of the 1.1 billion shillings that was sent by the Ministry of Defense for payment of the 14 month salary arrears of the Arrow Boys.
The officers were arrested on July 18, 2007 by the late Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, who was 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 all 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 before the court in Mbale, the suspects were granted bail.
In their third appearance at the Bugemba barracks court on Thursday, one of the main prosecution witnesses, Lt. Col. Benson Monday, the then Director Counter Intelligence at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence headquarters, insisted that the investigation led by him indicates that the suspects and others still at large directly participated in stealing the money.
He explained that they found out that the suspects were meant to pay each militiaman a total of 840, 000 shillings but ended up paying the personnel less than that. He said each militia personnel were supposed to be paid 60,000 shillings for the 14 months that they missed but that some were paid less.
Col Monday said the Defense Ministry released 1.1 Billion shillings for a total of 1,696 personnel but only 1,309 personnel were paid.
Col. John Tumwebaze, the chairman of the court martial adjourned the court to Friday morning.
The prosecution is being led by Lt. Andrew Lwaca while Captain Lucira Lubowa is the counsel for the suspects.
The Arrow Boys militia was formed in 2003 to boost the efforts of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces to fight an invasion by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Teso sub region.