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UPDF Officer in court of insubordination

Maj Trevors Kibuuka and his co accused appear before the Fourth Infantry Division Court Martial in Gulu City on Wednesday. PHOTO URN

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Maj. Travers Kibuuka, the former second in command of the Zoka army Detachment under the 71st Battalion has been pinned by his superiors over insubordinate behavior.

In July this year, the fourth Infantry Division Military Court martial chaired by Col. George Nambafu charged Maj. Kibuuka 38 with insubordinate behavior contrary to section 36 of the UPDF Act 2005.

The prosecution stated that Maj. Kibuuka on or around the 9th day of April 2023 while at Zoka in Itirikwa Sub-county, Adjumani district undermined his supervisor, and Commanding Officer 71st Battalion and deployed troops without informing his Commanding officer contrary to section 36 of the UPDF Act number 7/2005.

On Wednesday, Maj. Kibuuka appeared before Col. Nambafu where the state presented two senior UPDF officers to pin the accused.

The witnesses presented were Lt. Col Robert Koch, the 503 Brigade Commander, and Maj Caesar Otim Olweny, the commanding officer of the 71st Battalion.

While testifying before the Court, Lt. Col. Koch noted that on several occasions, Maj Kibuuka defied his orders and went on to execute operations and organized meetings without notifying his superiors.

He outlined that Maj Kibuuka conducted arrests, created a new detachment, deployed soldiers at a checkpoint, employed a civilian to drive a military vehicle, and initiated a visit of a politician at Zoka barracks without any authority from his bosses.

Lt. Col Koch said although he tried to initiate a meeting to solve the dispute between Maj. Kibuuka and his commanding officer, but he didn’t respect them but instead challenged them.

Maj. Olweny on the other hand told the court that his junior officer hadn’t been picking his phone calls, a move that affected their communication arguing that sometimes to reach out to him, he had to call other junior officers.

He also reiterated that on many occasions, Maj. Kibuuka sanctioned operations without his knowledge some of them which turned out to be illegal and led to the aggravated torture and illegal detention of civilians.

Maj Olweny said whenever he called his subordinate officer for a meeting at the 71st battalion brigade Headquarters in Bibia, he wouldn’t turn up and instead makeup excuses of being sick or conducting operations.

Maj. Kibuuka was arrested in April this year and remanded at Gulu Main Prison after being accused of torturing two women identified as Juliet Anzoa, and Beatrice Lokua during an illegal operation in Itirikwa sub-county.

The embattled soldier and his co-accused Yusuf Mawa were charged with two counts of assault and occasioning bodily harm contrary to section 236 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120.

They were however released on bail in July after his defense team asked the court to let the matter be handled through alternative dispute resolution.

James Onen, the accused’s lawyer told the court that they have already registered success with the alternative dispute resolution where the accused have so far paid 3.5 million Shillings to the victims in compensation for damages and cost of treatment.

He however prayed to the court to drop the case of insubordination against his clients from court on grounds that the charge was defective and should instead be handled administratively.

But the Fourth Infantry Division Court Martial Chairperson Col. Nambafu in his ruling objected to the prayers of the defense counsel arguing that the matter was handled administratively before the Division commander but was referred for court martial. He adjourned the matter till October 4 when the matter returns before court for hearing.