By Insight Post Uganda
Major Mark Wanyama, a senior officer in the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), who initially implicated several UPDF colleagues in the forceful eviction of businessman Jackson Twinamasiko, now faces accusations from the very soldiers who participated in the eviction.
The forced eviction witnessed significant property damage and serious violations of human rights, resulting in several of Twinamasiko’s workers being hospitalised in critical condition. They suffered severe beatings and burns during the distressing incident.
Wanyama had initially implicated several colleagues, including Rtd. Brig. Shaban Lukyamuzi, the former head of the Presidential Task Force on Land and Environment, Major Mugenyi, Major Sam, Prince Jjuuko, and Yasin Kasirye, of forcefully evicting businessman Jackson Twinamasiko from a seven-acre land at Mbeya Island in Mukono.
The eviction took place despite a court’s temporary injunction, which permitted Twinamasiko to continue using the land until a final decision on its ownership.
The allegations from fellow UPDF officers suggest Wanyama withheld crucial information about a court-issued temporary injunction.
The disturbing incident unfolded on October 29, 2022, November 5, 2022, and November 8, 2022. Twinamasiko took Maj. Wanyama to court on charges of contempt. The case is set for judgment on November 14, 2023. Simultaneously, Twinamasiko filed complaints with the police, but the matter seemed to have been stalled until recently.
However, Wanyama’s confidants reveal that soldiers who participated in the eviction are now accusing him of withholding information about the court’s temporary injunction.
In a recent appearance on CBS radio, Wanyama altered his narrative, claiming he was escorted by police officers during the eviction. This shift in his account comes as Twinamasiko continues to press for investigations into the actions of the involved officers.
Insiders suggest that fear of impending penalties has prompted the soldiers to turn on Wanyama, with the victim relentlessly pushing for investigations into the officers’ conduct.
Twinamasiko accuses Wanyama of using his connections within the security circles to obstruct the investigation, thereby hindering the course of justice.
“I have informed every relevant office about the misconduct of the army officers, presented pictorial evidence showing their presence on the ground, pictures of my destroyed properties and people tortured of which some of them sustained permanent injuries but no actions taken against them,” Twinamasiko stated.
The genesis of the dispute dates back to Twinamasiko’s purchase of a seven-acre land at Mbeya Island for Ugx70 million, conducted on November 6 and 20, 2019, through his Dfcu bank account.
Shockingly, events took a dark turn when Twinamasiko was allegedly colluded against by Lutaaya, the recipient of the payments, who entered into a deal with Wanyama.
This collaboration was fueled by the promise of an additional Ugx5 million for each acre of land transferred from Twinamasiko to Wanyama. The latter resorted to aggressive measures, deploying armed military personnel to forcefully occupy the property, resulting in property damage and injuries to farm workers.
Despite Twinamasiko’s attempts to seek legal resolution through the courts and law enforcement agencies, Wanyama seems to be the sole individual providing statements on the matter.
With the pending judgment on November 14, 2023, the Mukono land-grabbing scandal remains a focal point, shedding light on the alleged abuse of power within the UPDF.
Implication of Involving UPDF Soldiers
The implication of soldiers violating human rights and being involved in committing forceful eviction involving the destruction of property has serious consequences.
Soldiers engaging in human rights abuses and criminal activities can face legal repercussions, including charges and potential court-martial proceedings. The involvement of military personnel in such actions may tarnish the image of the armed forces and undermine public trust.
Furthermore, human rights violations attract international attention and may lead to scrutiny from international bodies or organisations concerned with human rights issues. This could result in diplomatic challenges for the country and damage its reputation on the global stage.
In addition, the use of soldiers in criminal activities such as property destruction can have a detrimental effect on the morale and discipline within the military. It may erode the sense of professionalism and duty that is expected from the armed forces, potentially leading to internal strife and a breakdown in command structures.
However, the incidents involving military personnel in criminal actions can erode trust between civilians and the military. The public expects the armed forces to uphold law and order, and any breach of this trust can lead to heightened fear and insecurity among the civilian population.
The misuse of military power for personal gains or criminal activities can pose a threat to national security. It may create internal instability and contribute to a breakdown of law and order, requiring additional resources to restore stability.
The involvement of soldiers in criminal actions challenges the principles of accountability and the rule of law. It undermines the fundamental idea that everyone, including those in uniform, should be subject to the same legal standards.
Despite the knowledge of the situation by high-ranking UPDF officials, there has been no visible intervention or disciplinary action against the implicated officers. This lack of response is exacerbating the plight of the residents who continue to endure the consequences.