Three soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) have been arrested in Busia district for allegedly extorting money from residents in the guise of enforcing the COVID-19 preventive measures.
The arrested include; Odongo Oragi No. RA 207941, Thomas Omagye No. RA 254844 and Patrick Olinga No. RA 254872, all attached to Nalwire UPDF detach barracks in Lumino sub-county.
The three soldiers were arrested on Monday for allegedly staging illegal roadblocks along Masaba-Lumino road near Masaba collage in Masaba sub-county where they were extorting between Shillings 10,000 and Shillings 30,000 from boda boda riders and between Shillings 50,000 and 100,000 from fishmongers.
Godfrey Masasa, a resident of Masaba sub-county says that the soldiers have been staging illegal roadblocks and sometimes conducting patrols where they would stop residents and ask for money.
Yonasan Ojambo, another resident says that the soldiers had developed a mentality of extorting money from boda boda riders and traders especially fishmongers in the area. He says that they always stage roadblocks along the road in the evening hours and early morning.
Hamphrence Maloba Lubya, the Masaba sub-county LC 3 chairman says that he had registered several complaints from the community about soldiers manning roadblocks and extorting money from them, which he also forwarded to the office of the Resident District Commissioner- RDC.
According to Maloba, he was overwhelmed with the complaints that prompted him to mobilize residents to arrest the errant soldiers. He says they arrested the soldiers in Masaba trading center where they found them manning a roadblock.
Mathew Tusubira, the Busia Deputy Resident District Commissioner attributed the arrest of the soldiers and achievement, saying they had registered several complaints from residents about the conduct of the suspects but they couldn’t point a finger at any particular soldier without evidence.
But Jude Wandera, the Bukedi, and Elgon sub-region UPDF spokesperson says that the soldiers had just intercepted a boda boda rider who was carrying passengers when the angry residents rounded them up and attempted to lynch him.
He says the soldiers called the Masaba Gombolola internal security officer-GISO for intervention. According to Wandera, the GISO arrested the soldiers and took them to Masaba sub-county police station which later handed them to the commander of Nalwire army barracks where they are still in custody as investigations are ongoing.