Mogadishu Court Martial: UPDF Officers Dismissed Over Al-Shabaab Cowardice

Mogadishu Court Martial UPDF Officers Face Dismissal Over Al Shabaab Attack
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Dismissal of Senior Officers from UPDF Raises Questions on Military Preparedness

Dismissed Officers Charges Verdict
Maj. John Steven Oluka Cowardice in action Dismissal from the army
Offenses by a person in command during action
Maj. Zadock Abor Cowardice in action Dismissal from the army


Two senior military officers, Maj. John Steven Oluka, 58, and Maj. Zadock Abor, 49, have been expelled from the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in connection with the deadly attack on the Bulomarer Forward Operating Base in Mogadishu back in May.

The General Court Martial, which convened in the Somali capital, passed the sentence on Saturday, finding both officers guilty of cowardice in action, a violation under Section 120 (1) (2) (a) of the UPDF Act of 2005. This decision was made during proceedings at the UPDF Sector One Contingent headquarters.

Additionally, Maj. John Steven Oluka faced another charge related to offenses by a person in command when in action, as outlined in Section 128 (1) (b) of the UPDF Act of 2005.

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The incident in question occurred in May when a group of Al-Shabaab militants launched an attack on the Bulomarer Forward Operating Base, resulting in the death of over 50 soldiers.

During the court proceedings, the prosecution asserted that both officers had received intelligence briefings about the imminent threat from Al-Shabaab, yet failed to plan adequately to prevent the attack. Furthermore, when the assault transpired, the officers allegedly neglected to inspire their subordinates to fight bravely, abandoning their troops and seeking refuge at Golweyn Forward Operating Base.

Brig Gen Robert Freeman Mugabe, the General Court Martial chairman, emphasized the severe consequences of the officers’ actions, stating, “The convicts’ act of running away from the Al-Shabaab greatly impacted on the name of UPDF and gave Al-Shabaab an opportunity to easily raid their forces. Because of cowardice in action, a number of our soldiers and equipment were lost.”

On the charge related to command responsibilities during action, it was argued that Maj. John Steven Oluka obstructed an operation by the rear protection force to search, rescue, and recapture Bulomarer.

Following a thorough consideration of both the defense and state arguments, Mugabe pronounced the dismissal of the two military officers from the army. He informed them of their right to appeal the decision within 14 days if dissatisfied.

The court also sentenced non-commissioned officers in Mogadishu for failing to protect war materials. Lance Corporal Alex Okot Anyatta received a 16-year, seven-month, and 20-day sentence, while Corporal Hagai Twinemanzi was sentenced to 22 years, nine months, and 24 days. Sgt Ronald Obeyo and Sgt William Kakooza were also jailed for 17 years, six months, and 19 days, and 10 months and 18 days, respectively, for the same offence.

Sentenced Non-Commissioned Officers Charges Sentence
Lance Corporal Alex Okot Anyatta Failing to protect war materials 16 years, seven months, 20 days
Corporal Hagai Twinemanzi Failing to protect war materials 22 years, nine months, 24 days
Sgt Ronald Obeyo Failing to protect war materials 17 years, six months, 19 days
Sgt William Kakooza Failing to protect war materials 10 months and 18 days
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