UPDF commanders on the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) sold fuel for operations to Somali civilians, a military witness has told the army court.
Lance Corporal Ayub Masumbuko, a former convoy commander, told the General Court Martial at Makindye military barracks on Thursday that their commanders sanctioned the sale of fuel meant for transport, running generators and for cooking, which delayed meals for soldiers due to the search for firewood.
He testified that the soldiers escorted tanks carrying diesel from Base Camp to one Abudallah at the former Amisom Marine Base on orders of Col Hassan Kimbowa.
“Upon delivering the fuel, we were given $5,350 (about Shs13 million) for every tank of diesel. We used to deliver the fuel twice at the beginning of the month and twice at the end of the month. And all the work was sanctioned by the commanding officer (Col Kimbowa),” CPL Masumbuko testified in the military court.
However, the witness amused court when he said he benefited from the fuel sales by receiving $150 (Shs375,000) as a token of appreciation.
CPL Masumbuko is also facing similar charges before the Division Court Martial, a lower army court, at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence headquarters.
Another witness, Pte Stephen Murashi, also a fighter in the Somalia mission, told court that his former boss, Lt Col Benson Olanya, authorised the delivery of 480 litres of diesel to one Muhammad, a Somali civilian working as an Amisom informer.
According to Pte Murashi, the sale of fuel to Somali civilians affected the soldiers’ livelihoods and operations when they resorted to using firewood for cooking instead of fuel, which led to receiving their meals late.
“On June 21 while on guard duty, I and my colleague Lance CPL David Okiror were called to the Quarter Guard. Three other people were also called from the Tank Crew and we were directed to carry two drums of fuel from the defence base to the main road. There, we found Mr Muhammad with a camel with a career and we loaded the fuel on it,” Pte Murashi testified. He said he did not know the destination of the fuel.
Both Col Kimbowa and Lt Col Olanya who are charged separately deny the accusations. The court set May 6 for further hearing of Lt Col Olanya’s case and May 13 for Col Kimbowa’s case.
The military court is chaired by Brig. Moses Ddiba Ssentongo.
charges against Col Kimbowa
Col Hassan Kimbowa, the former commanding officer of Battle Group XI based at Masilla in Somalia, is on trial on seven charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces over the sale of 5,800 litres of diesel to third parties, contrary to the United Nations and Amisom rules.