By Andrew Ssenyonga
KAMPALA - Two Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) serving officers on Tuesday testified against their former commanding officer in two cases of theft and abuse of office.
The soldiers, who appeared before the General Court Martial in Makindye chaired by Brig. Moses Ssentongo, told the army court that Lt. Col. Benson Olanya committed the crimes.
Olanya, 52, is accused of several offences including two cases of theft and abuse of office.
Prosecution alleges that Olanya committed the offences while still the commanding officer of 343 battalion attached to Battle group XI+ of the Ugandan contingent in AMISOM Somalia in 2013.
Court heard that on June 21 and July 25 last year, while in Jowhar town in Somalia, Olanya diverted 420litres and 300litres (respectively) of fuel meant for his battalion’s operations.
Private Hussein Baluku, 32, who is attached to the same battalion in Somalia, told court Olanya ordered them to give two gallons of 150litres each to a Somali civilian woman without a written order from the Somali Nation Army (SNA).
“We used to get written orders from the SNA forces requesting for help in kind of arms and fuel. But on July 25th 2013, a woman came in a vehicle and Olanya ordered us to give fuel without a formal request note from the army,” Baluku testified.
He added that Olanya being the commanding officer of the battalion, they didn’t defy his order and, obliged to give 300litres of fuel to the woman.
Forty-year-old Corporal David Chengun, who is the arms officers at the same battalion, was the prosecution’s third witness.
He told court that on June 9 last year, while executing his duties, Olanya ordered him to issue arms to a Somali civilian called Osman Mohammed Mohammed.
“The Somali man availed me a list of arms he wanted which included a box of 7.62 x 39 mm armor, a box of 7.62 x 52mm armor, a half tin of 12.62mm armor and six rifles,” he said.
“After issuing the items Olanya told the man to leave before counter signing for the received items.”
He added that when he asked his boss why the Somali man had left before counter signing for the items taken, Olanya answered that they were late for operations.
Brig. Ssentongo adjourned the case until February 27 for further hearing.