The UPDF 4th Division command headquartered in Gulu Town has ordered immediate arrest and prosecution of any UPDF soldier found engaging in boda boda business.
The directive also instructs all UPDF patrol units under the 4th Division command to arrest any soldier found outside the barracks in army uniforms as well as those carrying guns while not on duty.
Daily Monitor has established that the orders are part of fresh restrictions slapped on soldiers to restore discipline and reduce their involvement in criminal activities.
Lt Gen Bonny Bamwiseki, the Division commander, said it was frustrating that many soldiers were leaving their work station to engage in boda boda riding.
“It compromises our credibility and we are spending money paying these officers only for them to engage in boda boda business. They end up mixing with wrong elements to cause havoc in the community,” Gen Bamwiseki said at the weekend.
The UPDF laws bar any serving officer from engaging in any civil employment or undertaking that may jeopardise the interest of the army.
Article 37 of the UPDF Act 2005 says ‘no officer or militant on continuing full time military service shall engage in undertakings that- are likely detrimental of the interest of the Defence Forces, likely to reflect discredit upon the Defence Forces.’
“I have issued an order already that whoever comes for leave should be put on civilian clothing, a soldier on leave found in uniform should be arrested immediately. I have also instructed soldiers and police on patrol to arrest all idle soldiers and have them prosecuted,” he added.
Gen Bamwiseki said the guns are used to protect the sovereignty of the nation but not to scare the civilian population.
“Our role as UPDF is to ensure all the civil population are safe 24 hours and that everyone enjoys the peace prevailing at the moment but it is sad some soldiers are engaging in criminal acts that compromise the peace of civilians,” he said.
While referring to the recent incident in which a UPDF soldier allegedly shot dead three people in Gulu Town early this month, he gave examples of soldiers, who requested for leave but were reported to have been harassing civilians while in army uniforms while others even had their guns with them.
Pte Godfrey Okello, the prime suspect in the shooting, reportedly took a one and half year study leave to pursue a course at Gulu University.
Although the leave ended recently, last week’s investigations into the alleged murder found no details of the suspect at the university and he is said to have since been engaged in boda boda riding.
Last Friday, Pte Okello appeared before the 4th Division army court martial where two witnesses testified that they saw him dressed in an army uniform and armed when he arrived and shot his victims before fleeing.
Okello, who was remanded to Gulu main prison, is set to reappear before the same court tomorrow when a ruling will be made.
UPDF laws indicate that there shall be in each division, a division court-martial which shall have unlimited jurisdiction to try cases of soldiers.