A row has erupted between the state minister for disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, and of defence, Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo.Ecweru, who is also the MP for Amuria, has accused Odongo of using an army helicopter to advance his political ambition of recapturing the parliamentary seat from him.
Odongo on Tuesday flew to Amuria in a helicopter to launch a Christmas football competition.
But some politicians interpreted his action as a disguise to recapture the seat that he once occupied before he was appointed army commander.
Odongo was elected Amuria MP in 1996 and vacated the seat in 1998.
His appointment as defence state minister this year was controversial.
The parliamentary appointments committee declined to approve his appointment until he retired from the army.
Odongo has, therefore, not yet been sworn-in as ex-officio MP as the Constitution provides for non-MPs.
â€œThe General on November 28 flew to Ococia Primary School where he declared and launched his campaign. I am told he openly told the parents of Ococia that he had been sent by President Yoweri Museveni to unseat me,â€ Ecweru said.
â€œHe also returned in the same military helicopter to Amuria town council on December 8, to deliver soccer balls for the youth and to meet his agents,â€ he added.
When contacted by phone, Odongo said he used the helicopter on both occasions for official assignments.
â€œI am a minister in the Government and entitled to use available resources. I am performing the duties of the Government. What should I have done? Go on foot? I used the helicopter so that I could get back quickly to finalise my travel arrangement. My attention was drawn to Ococia School because it was built by the President and it had problems, so I had to drop there quickly,â€ Odongo said.
He added that he had to fly to Djibouti the following day.
â€œThat is why I had to use the fastest means of transport available so that I do not fail the other programmes.â€
Odongo explained that he went to Amuria to officiate at an event where he was invited by the youth in his official capacity as a minister.
He refuted claims that he had been sent by Museveni to take recapture Ecweruâ€™s seat.
Jeje Odongo after my seat, says Ecweru