In the story “Army probes commanders over robberies,” published by The Observer, on September 14-20, 2022, Army spokesperson, Brig. Gen Felix Kulaigye confirmed that some men in uniform are involved in robberies in the city.
Kulaigye also confirmed that some commanders were arrested and detained pending investigation and trial in the court martial. What is even worrying is that some soldiers, Local Defence Unit (LDU), and Uganda Police Force (UPF) personnel have been conniving with civilian criminals.
Some civilian criminals hire guns from the army. If not, the army or police give protective cover to the criminals. A case in point is Charles Olim aka Siapapa who was arrested a few weeks ago after stealing $429,000, four iPhones, Apple, and Dell laptops from a South Sudanese.
If it wasn’t for the high profile of the victim and the aide of tracking devices embedded in the stolen items, Sipapa, and the gang were sure to enjoy the bounty! Before that, many people had complained about Sipapa’s uncouth behavior on public roads or spaces.
He had become provocative. Sipapa had become the law unto himself. He was untouchable because he had a heavy army security detail. He often claimed he had a direct line to President Yoweri Museveni.
He threatened to shoot and kill members of the National Unity Party (NUP). Although retired Lt. Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso who is also a presidential aide claimed she had earlier detected Sipapa’s abuse of UPDF protection, and withdrew the army, this is not true.
Sipapa has been protected up to the time he was arrested. In the past, the protection of VIPs or threatened persons was exclusively limited to the police. It appears that changed. The army especially during the National Resistance Army (NRA) era only concerned itself with its officers and not civilians.
Further, in the past NRA, had a strict code of conduct, which forbade the men and officers of the army from getting involved in private business. One had to choose between his or her business and the army job. That ethic has been abandoned.
Many army officers have threatened to kill each other because of business rivalry. They are involved in fish and gold smuggling among other things. Early this year, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Beti Kamya suggested a lifestyle audit for public servants. She thought this would return some discipline among people entrusted with public authority and resources.
But President Museveni who was supposed to launch the lifestyle audit campaign poured cold water on the plan. He instead advised the IGG to be careful not to scare away investors. Perhaps, UPDF and UPF need to do a lifestyle audit to weed out the bad apples.