The General Court Martial has sentenced two Uganda People’s Defence Force-UPDF commanders to dismissal with disgrace from the army for cowardice and running away from their troops as Al-Shabaab attacked their base in Buulo Mareer Somalia on 25th May 2023.
The attack on the base belonging to the UPDF African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in Buulo Mareer, 130km (80 miles) Southwest of Mogadishu left 54 UPDF soldiers killed and others injured, which was blamed on commanders’ inefficiency.
On Friday, November 10th 2023, the General Court Martial (GCM) sitting at Basecamp – UPDF Sector One Contingent Headquarters in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia found Maj. John Steven Oluka,58, and Maj. Zadock Abor,49, guilty of cowardice contrary to section 120 (1) (2) (a) of the UPDF Act of 2005. Whereas Maj. John Steven Oluka on top of count one, was also sentenced with count two; offences by person in command when in action contrary to section 128 (1) (b) of the UPDF Act of 2005.
The conviction followed evidence by prosecution that the two commanders who were in charge of infantry companies received intelligence briefing from intelligence officer and the Battalion commander over an impending attack from Al – Shabaab but failed to plan and deter the attack.
It’s said that when the attack happened, the two didn’t encourage their juniors to fight but instead run away to Golweyn Forward Operating Base.
“The convicts’ act of running away from Al-Shabaab greatly impacted on the name of UPDF and gave Al-Shabaab opportunity to easily raid our forces. As a result of cowardice in action, a number of our soldiers and equipment were lost,” said the army court chairman, Brig. Freeman Mugabe.
The two were consequently dismissed from the UPDF but were told they have a right to appeal against the conviction and sentence within 14 days if they are not satisfied with the punishments.
The maximum punishment for cowardice in action according to section 120 (1) (2) (a) of the UPDF Act of 2005 and offences of persons in command when in action according to section 128 (1) (b) and the actions result into failure of operation or loss of life is by death or in other circumstances, life imprisonment.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia is an active African Union transition and drawdown mission from peacekeeping operations in Somalia, with 22,000 troops. Formerly the African Union Mission to Somalia, ATMIS’s mandate will end in 2024, with full transition of security operations to the Somali National Armed Forces.
ALSO READ: WHEN CORRUPTION INFILTRATES KEY INSTITUTIONS LIKE UPDF, THE COUNTRY GRIEVES!