28 February 2013

Uganda: UPDF Officer Pinned Over Dead Soldiers' Pension

A state prosecution witness on Tuesday accused a Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) officer, Capt. Justus Nuwagaba, of receiving sh50m for a deceased army officer and unspecified amounts of money in other cases.

Capt. Muhammad Ssesanga, a UPDF officer attached to the third division based in Moroto, was testifying before Brig. Gen. Fred Tolit, the chairman of the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala.

The state alleges that four army officials, including Nuwagaba and others, for a decade had been stealing millions of shillings in pension and survivors benefits meant for family members of deceased officers.

The suspects have been using relatives and friends who posed as widows and orphans of the deceased army officers and opened up bank accounts for them.

It is from these accounts that the benefits and pension cash were channelled.

Prosecution, led by Capt. Frederick Kangwamu, on Tuesday asked Ssesanga, a former survivor benefits officer at the army headquarters in Bombo, to give a recollection of what transpired in his office at that time.

Ssesanga told court that in 2005, he was approached by Nuwagaba then Lieutenant, who asked him to help process the claims of his relatives.

"Capt. Nuwagaba told me that he was a relative to the late Lt. Duncan Kamugisha who passed on in 1994. He asked me to process the claim because Kamugisha's wife and children were suffering," he said.

Ssesanga, who told court that he did not know Kamugisha or his family, processed the claimant's file because Nuwagaba was a casual friend.

He added that after the claimant's file was processed, Nuwagaba offered him sh10,000 for the job well-done.

According to the two charge sheets obtained from the General court martial, the officials have so far received sh110m meant for the families of three deceased soldiers and another army official who deserted the force several years ago.

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