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Soldier who exposed ghosts in army lauds First Lady over pay

By Chris Kiwawulo

Added 14th August 2020 09:18 PM

Musoke said the fight against ghost soldiers made his life difficult, as it created for him enemies in the top ranks and file of NRA, who time and again threw him into jail on trumped-up charges before stopping his salary.

Soldier who exposed ghosts in army lauds First Lady over pay

The First Lady intervened through her head of security, Lt Col Charity Bainababo and Musoke was paid sh29.4m instead of the sh80m he expected.

Musoke said the fight against ghost soldiers made his life difficult, as it created for him enemies in the top ranks and file of NRA, who time and again threw him into jail on trumped-up charges before stopping his salary.

GHOST SOLDIERS |ARMY | CORRUPTION

The soldier who exposed ghost soldiers in the National Resistance Army (NRA) - now Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) - has saluted the First Lady, Janet Museveni, for intervening in his salary arrears predicament.

Sgt Gitta Musoke revealed that he discovered 23,000 ghost soldiers in the army in 2002. The Government had then lost over sh800b to ghost workers.

As a result, over 100 soldiers, including paymasters and senior officers such as former army commander Maj. Gen. James Kazini (RIP), Col Poteli Kivuna (RIP) and Lt Col Dura Mawa Muhindo, were charged with creating ghost soldiers on the payroll.

Also, Andrew Guti, then a colonel and 4th Division commander in Gulu (now lieutenant general) and former chief of personnel and administration, Col Mark Kodili, were charged for swindling over sh1b meant for salaries, recruitment and paying over 700 non-existent soldiers after inflating the payroll. However, most of the implicated officers were cleared of the charges and some have been assigned new roles.

Musoke said the fight against ghost soldiers made his life difficult, as it created for him enemies in the top ranks and file of NRA, who time and again threw him into jail on trumped up charges before stopping his salary.

Musoke was arrested many times by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CIM) and detained in several CIM safe houses, at Makindye Military Barracks, Bombo Barracks and at Luzira Prison.

He said he lost count of the number of times he was arrested. He would spend on average two years in detention every time they arrested him. Once, he was arrested as he returned home and another time he was picked from Kampala Road as he walked.

Through a story published inSaturday Vision in April last year, Musoke cried out to President Yoweri Museveni, seeking his intervention to have his salary arrears of over sh80m cleared.

Musoke said it was the First Lady who saw his plea and intervened through her head of security, Lt Col Charity Bainababo. Although he was paid sh29.4m instead of the sh80m he expected, he is happy that after 17 years, he has received something.

At a monthly salary of sh404,544, Gitta expected salary arrears of at least sh80m between 2001 and 2017. But his total pay would go higher than that if 2018 and 2019 were included.

"The First Lady asked Bainababo to write to the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, to have my salary arrears paid. It has taken a full year, but at last I am happy I have been paid. I want to thank Maama Janet for her motherly heart. She intervened when many of my comrades had abandoned me.

"Many of my comrades are either colonels or generals and the President had also promised to promote me on top of building for me a house. But wrong elements in the army frustrated all this by framing me, imprisoning me severally and at one time they declared me dead. But I am still alive. They did that because I exposed the issue of ghost soldiers in the army," Musoke said.

Now aged 48, he is waiting for his reinstatement on the payroll and processing of his retirement since he has reached retirement age.

"I have served for 35 years.

"Musoke is well known among NRA historicals and commanders as one of the young and courageous fighters who helped in weeding out ghost soldiers in the army.

Although many senior army officers, including the commander in chief, Gen. Museveni, tried to help him, Musoke said he was informed that some bad hearted people fed the President with wrong information that he had passed on.

Musoke, whose army number is RA/054262, has severally written to Museveni seeking his intervention in his matter.

"These bad people first told the President that I had run mad, but when I managed to see him through Amelia Kyambadde (former principal private secretary), he proved that they had told him lies. Now, I hear they told him that I died. But I am here. I know the people behind this are those former pay masters, commanding officers and administrators whom I reported over creating ghosts on the payroll. I don't know why those who do well are treated badly," he lamented.

The father of five said Gen. Muhoozi, Gen. Ivan Koreta, Gen. Elly Tumwine and Gen. Kale Kayihura tried to help him, but some bad hearted people blocked him from meeting the President, who had promised him a job in his office.

Fatefully, the majority of the senior officers who Gitta accuses of mistreatment have since died. He accused some fallen generals plus a few others still alive as his biggest tormentors.

"Can you imagine these people once sent operatives who shot at me, but narrowly missed? But I forgive all of them because I am now Born Again. I believe I survived because of God's mercy. God saw that I had done nothing wrong to deserve death," Musoke narrated.

However, he is hurt that his five children have not gone to school because of the suffering meted out on him by his superiors.

"I feel bad that my children have not been able to get an education just like me because of a few selfish people with whom I fought to liberate this country." 

Who is Musoke? 

I joined the NRA on December 19, 1983, at the age of 12. I was coming from school at Migadde Primary School in Matugga on Bombo Road and I was taken by the NRA fighters to the bush in Luwero, where I fought in the liberation struggle as a kadogo (child soldier) against former president Milton Obote.

At the time Kampala fell in 1986, I was under the 7th battalion commanded by (now Maj. Gen.) Matayo Kyaligonza and the late Stanley Muhangi. After the NRA took power, we were deployed to fight Lakwena and later Kony until 1990, when I was recalled to Lubiri barracks. In 1990, I was deployed as the bodyguard to fallen NRA historical Maj. Gen. Fred Rwigyema, when the Rwandan Patriotic Forces attacked Kigali, Rwanda. 

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