SGT. GITTA MUSOKE-RA 54,262 has been in and out of prison
over the last decade. He was abducted and forced to join NRA
guerillas as a child, fought Alice Lakwena's Holy Spirit Movement,
alongside RPA in Rwanda, and later in DR Congo.
He was UPDF's Pay Clerk, a position that enabled him to discover
and make reports on the phenomenon of ghost soldiers in the
army. But this was to be the beginning of his trials and tribulations
in the army.
In 'My Prison Life' this week, Sgt. Gitta Musoke tells MICHAEL
MUBANGIZI about his arrest in Congo, Mbale, at CMI, in Bombo,
at Luzira and even at Police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura's
home in Makindye-Lukuli.
I am called Sergeant Gitta Musoke, RA 54,262, born in Migadde,
Matugga, Wakiso district in 1969. I studied at Migadde Primary
and Secondary School up to Senior One when I was abducted
and joined the army on December 19, 1983.
| Sgt. Gitta displays the
gap in his teeth
We were six children coming from school at around 5:00p.m.
when we met about seven armed soldiers dressed in Obote
government army uniform. Later, we found out that they were
Museveni’s [NRA] rebels.
I was 14, my other colleagues were between 12 and 15 years.
They told us in Luganda that they were taking us to the
bush, that we were in a danger zone and would be killed
if we remained at home. We tried to resist but they forced
and promised us many things - free education, promotion
after the war, and to be big people in government. They
took us to the bush in Gombe where we found about 400 armed
fighters [aged] between 18 and 19 years.
We thought they were going to kill us until the following
day when their bosses told us that they were going to train
us into a rebel group.
“You are going to be commandos, president Museveni’s
fighters; after the war you will go to school,” they
We trained for two months with people from Bukalasa, Bamunanika
and Bulemezi. They often took us at night to get food -
cassava, potatoes, cows…from civilian shambas in areas
people had vacated.
Fred Mwesigye and Matayo Kyaligonza were in charge of our
Abdul Nasser camp, later named seventh battalion, but our
instructor was one Corporal Kasule.
There was no torture except when we were getting the youth
wingers of UPC - Bipingamizi. When they refused to join
us, they would tie them kandoya and kill them with hoes.
Some commanders used them as lectures to train us how to
kill using hoes.
Even during the two-month training, they often took us
[for operations] to capture guns in Kyadondo, Mpigi, Mukono,
Bulemezi, Matuga and Buwambo areas.
[During the NRA assault on Kampala], our unit captured
Makindye barracks, and I was part of them. After the 1986
take-over, a unit under Patrick Lumumba was created from
our battalion. We continued northwards and captured Koboko,
Lira, Gulu, and fought Alice Lakwena’s rebels up to
Magamaga [Jinja] from where she fled to Kenya.
Then we fought Joseph Kony’s LRA until 1993 when
they sent us to [fight in the] Rwanda war. At the end of
1994, President Museveni met us at Ruhengeri on the Rwanda-Uganda
border; we asked him to bring us home and take another unit
which he did.
Back home I worked in various operations until June 1997
when the army sent me for a three-month training in Auditing,
Accounts, Clerical and Intelligence at the School of Infantry
in Jinja, Gaddafi Barracks.
The aim of the course was to enable us fight fraud, corruption,
ghost soldiers in the army.
My first deployment was at the Directorate of Finance
in Mbuya as an auditor. My work involved paying army officers.
That is where I first discovered that many officials were
benefiting from army strength. Then I was shifted to Bombo,
and later to 3 Division in Mbale.
In December 1999, under Capt. David Kibirango, intelligence
officers and some staff from the auditing section at the
division made verification exercises to find out [the physical
presence of soldiers on the payroll].
People would come, check their names on the computer,
print out and sign for their payments. All officers came
but 96 of 1,035 never appeared to collect their money. When
we asked about the remaining names, some officials of the
division told us that it is not our work. The then Division
Administrator, Silver Kayemba (now brigadier), told us to
make accountability indicating that all the money was collected.
The captain (Kibirango) left me alone; I think he was given
money. Through intelligence officers at the division, I
sent a list of people who never collected their salaries
to Bombo and they were deleted [from the register].
When Kayemba knew that I had reported the issue, he ordered
the SIB - Special Investigation Branch - staff to arrest
me in December 1999.
I was in my office in Mbale at around 9:00a.m.when two SIB
officials dressed in military uniform came, saying they
had an order from Silver Kayemba to arrest me.
They told me to remove my shoes and took me to a cell
in Mbale barracks where they beat me, poured water on me
and removed my clothes, leaving me in under-wear. That night
I slept on cement; we ate one meal – posho and beans
- a day.
During the day, other inmates were taken to slash outside,
but I stayed in the room 24 hours on the orders of some
officials. I was never taken to court; it was illegal detention.
Some officials wanted me released in March 2000 but Kayemba
ordered me to be taken to Rwakaka on the Kenya-Uganda border.
A military lorry took me there and I was detained here from
March to May 2000. That was the time of the referendum on
“Your fellow Muganda has ordered me to arrest you
in this place,” said the officer who took me there.
He also asked me if I had a grudge with Kayemba who had
earlier stopped my salary.
I was the only person here. There was nothing to sleep
on but soldiers brought me food - posho and beans. My wife
and relatives did not know anything about my whereabouts,
but I was not tortured.
Back to Mbale
Officers in our unit were called to Mbale army barracks
to beef up security for President Museveni who was staying
at Mbale State Lodge [during a visit]. I went with them
to Mbale where I told the intelligence officers everything
I had gone through.
They promised that no one would arrest me again. Kayemba
was still in Mbale but I think he did not know I was there.
I went back to the house where I used to stay, collected
my papers, documents concerning ghost soldiers, their names,
and took them to officials in the Finance Department at
Bombo who gave it to [then UPDF Director of Records] Maj.
I told them I was not going back to Mbale for fear of
mistreatment. They deployed me to DR Congo in August 2000
as pay clerk for Operation Safe Haven. Capt. Dan Byakutaga
was the overall pay-master. I never interacted with him
but we were in the same finance department. Byakutaga stayed
in Kisangani, I stayed in Beni - Eastern Congo.
Maj. [George] Bukenya controlled the unit where I worked.
The zonal pay master gave me the money to pay soldiers and
I continued discovering what I had discovered in Mbale.
Soldiers also told me “so and so [on the payroll]
did not come to Congo, they are in Uganda or they left the
After payments, the in-charge would call me, demanding the
uncollected money, saying they are to keep it for them.
That they knew where these [absentees] were serving! They
wanted me to indicate in my records that there was no balance.
Some pay masters collaborated with such officials. But only
500 of the 730 soldiers collected the money.
The ghost soldiers issue affected the welfare of junior
soldiers and the [general] performance of our troops. I
sent a message to the Director of Records, Mutengesa, to
delete those names, which he did. It was during the 2001
presidential elections and their (ghost) February 2001 salaries
did not come. The benefiting officers blamed me for telling
I promised to write a salary claim for the ‘people’
deleted from the list if they showed them to me. That is
when Maj. Bukenya got his pistol, boxed me and hit me with
a bayonet: I have a scar on my left thigh.
He also and knocked my teeth out, as you can see (shows
this writer a gap of two teeth that he says the major broke).
Then they dumped me in an underground cell where they
kept about 20 Mai Mai rebels. “You Ugandans have come
to arrest us for nothing. This is our country, you have
come here to plunder our minerals-diamond, timber and gold.
There are no rebels to fight here,” said some of the
rebels with whom I was detained.
We were given posho and beans. We spent time talking.
In the evening they would take us to a river to bathe. I
was only given uniform when we were going to bathe, otherwise
I wore just under wear.
I stayed there until one of the guards helped me escape
back to Uganda at night when the sector commanders were
In Uganda, I compiled a report of how I had been tortured,
on ghost soldiers, and took it to CMI. They told me to report
there daily as they investigate the matter.
Nothing was done after a month. Officers I was reporting
to were not helpful. I decided to tell the President. Through
the then President’s Secretary, Pius Mujuzi (now Kyotera
County MP), the President agreed to meet me on May 9, 2001.
A PPU official Capt. Moses Rwakitarate took me to Kale
Kayihura’s office at Okello House. Kayihura was then
[a colonel and] President Museveni’s Military Assistant,
Chief Political Commissar, and head of the Special Revenue
Protection Service (SRPS).
Kayihura told me, “Are you Gitta Musoke?
I am the right person to take you to the President, but
now I am going to take you to my home”.
He drove me to his home at Lukuli-Makindye. He asked me,
“Do you have any report about ghost soldiers you want
to give the President?
I told him, “No, but I have all the data in my head.”
He put me in his boy’s quarters, brought me papers,
a pen and told me to write a report. He gave me a mattress,
blanket, Colgate and soap.
When I gave him the report, he told me to wait as he waited
for an appointment with the President. He also told his
home guards to keep me inside his fence. My family did not
know where I was but the guards gave me food - posho and
beans. After five months there, I pressured him to take
me to the President.
Kayihura instead handed me over to his ADC, Lt. Emma Muhoozi,
who on December 7, 2001 took me to meet then Army Commander,
Brig. James Kazini at Bombo. Kazini told me they were going
to deploy me.
I said “No sir; I want to meet the President”.
He said, “No, I have seen your reports, you have
a lot of information, we are going to deploy you to continue
with your research on corruption.”
Kazini gave me an office in ‘White House’
[at Bombo] where he and top executives like [then Chief
of Staff] Brig. Lakara Nakibus and Kale Kayihura sat.
I started work as a researcher and investigator on corruption
from January to March 2002. That is when I discovered that
there were many civilians with army numbers! I compiled
all these but there was no action taken. They just warned
them to change their behaviour. That is when I compiled
a report to the President and passed through the Secretary
to the First Lady, Peninah Kembabazi.
When the President got it, he called Noble Mayombo, Kale
Kayihura, James Kazini and the late Zimula Mugwanya, and
“What are you doing? How can a junior officer send
me a report concerning corruption, thieves...?” He
again told Kayihura that he wanted me.
On May 28, 2002, I saw a person I knew as Gregory Katusiime,
an operative, in a parked Corona car, while I was on a boda
boda going home in Kasangati.
As I passed the car, I heard an echo of a pistol. I jumped
off the boda boda and ran. They started shooting at me,
so I lay down. They arrested me, tied me with ropes and
dumped me inside the car’s boot. I later found myself
inside CMI headquarters.
They tortured me, blaming me for sending the report to the
President. They said they were going to kill me. They squeezed
and broke my finger using magalo (pliers), saying they had
information that I was a Kizza Besigye and PRA collaborator.
They wanted me to admit that.
Later at night, they drove me to Kololo Joint Anti-Terrorism
Taskforce (JATT) offices where I spent two days.
On the third day, at around 9:00p.m, they wrapped a rag
around my face, tied me with ropes and took me to Mbuya
When they removed the rag, the ropes had cut through my
arm (shows scar).
There were some 90 people inside but I was put in a room
alone. I stayed there for four months without going out.
I slept on bare cement. For meals, they just pushed posho
and beans into the room. There were however lights at night.
In October 2002, they mixed me with other inmates who
nominated me to be their leader-katikkiro. My work was receiving
[new] inmates, getting to know their cases, and obtaining
money from them to buy fuel in case power went off, brooms,
soap, etc. Some of the people brought in had been tied with
ropes and tortured with flat irons, etc.
Still, I was not taken to court.
I left the cell in April 2004. I was surprised to see the
vehicle of Lt. Col. Proscovia Nalweyiso. She told me there
was a directive from higher authorities to take me to the
David Tinyefuza committee probing ghost soldiers at Bombo.
I entered a room and faced Gen. Tinyefuza, and other members
like Lt. Col. Kyamulesire who headed the Legal section.
I told them the whole story as I have told you.
After my testimony, Tinyefuza asked the CMI officials,
“Why did you arrest that boy without bringing him
A CMI official stood up and accused me of being a collaborator
for Besigye, China Kaitesi, Beti Kamya, Aggrey Awori and
Tinyefuza asked me if I knew the allegations.
I told him those were false allegations. I knew Besigye
was a UPDF officer, the rest I was just hearing on radio.
Tinyefuza dismissed the charges as false and ordered Nalweyiso
to take me to my family.
My wife had shifted to Namasuba-Massajja. Nalweyiso dropped
me there and told me not to move anywhere as they were working
on my case. But nothing was done.
On August 10, 2004, I met Florence Bisanga, one of the
President’s secretaries, to make an appointment with
President Museveni to raise my complaint.
On August 17, 2004, officials from the President’s
Office collected me from my home and took me to the fourth
floor at Parliament to see the President.
I stayed there till later in the night when they drove
me to State House where I met President Museveni. We discussed
for three hours during which I told him about ghost soldiers
[and all that I had gone through].
He called Gen. Aronda and blamed him for mistreating junior
He also ordered him to pay all my missed salaries and
reinstate me in the army, as well as arrest people who tortured
me. He also telephoned then PGB Commander, Col. Leopold
Kyanda, and ordered him to allocate me a house at Kololo
Summit View, and to facilitate me with food rations from
The President also gave me Shs 1m and told [Amelia] Kyambadde
that he would want to see me again. They drove me back home.
The next morning, they collected me and took me to Parliament
and handed me over to one Lt. Kanyamunye who was in charge
of security under President’s Office.
He drove me to Kololo, to the house the President had promised
me. It was one-room uni-port. I stayed there alone. I didn’t
move with my family. I was given utensils, basins, bed sheets,
jerry cans, etc. I stayed there from August 18, 2004 up
to July 13, 2005 the day Kampala lawyer Robinah Kiyingi
I had earlier met Aronda at his Kololo office and asked
him about the money the President had said should be given
to me. He intimidated me saying, “You boy, I am going
to chase you from the army. I can’t work with a person
who collaborates with the President”.
I told him, “I am in my [last years] in the army,
if you want to chase me; give me my retirement package.”
He rang James Mugira of the Armoured Brigade; he was then
Director of Military Intelligence.
He said he was sending him one person to be arrested. I
said, “Afande Aronda, why do you want me to be in
jail all the time?” He ordered me out of his office
and I walked to my home in Kololo.
After a few days, I went to Bombo to cross-check with
the Finance Department about my pay. They told me they were
going to pay the whole army. As I was there, somebody called
out my name,
“You Gitta, you are a deserter, you are on the PRA
list, we are going to arrest you.”
He ordered men to arrest me; they removed my shoes and
put me in a cell. I spent there one month. Then they took
me to the Unit Disciplinary Committee (UDC) at Bombo where
they accused me of deserting the army and sentenced me to
two years’ imprisonment in Luzira and later dismissed
me with disgrace.
I wasn’t a deserter, I was just complaining about
my money. How can a deserter get food, house from PGB?
They handcuffed me and took me to Luzira Murchison Bay on
August 17, 2005. I found there other prisoners. Life wasn’t
easy but the OC of the prison had an idea about my case.
He ordered that I be appointed a leader, so I became katikkiro
I was not taken to court because I was already “a
convict”. My wife always visited me on visiting days.
I served my sentence until November 23, 2006. My wife came
and collected me.
I am still struggling to get my money and make the President
aware and may be retire me from the army officially. I have
been in the army since 1983 but now I am neither a veteran
nor a civilian. I only have an army number. I don’t
have a dismissal letter. Some officers in the army have
advised me to sue the government but I don’t have
I only want the money the President promised me. I want
Shs 11 million, including my pension and gratuity and compensation.
I was a child soldier but I have gained nothing from this
army. I haven’t built a house, my children are not
going to school, my first born is 17 years. I am just a
beggar. I move on foot. It’s friends who know my situation
that come to my help.
My first wife with whom I had five children was taken
by other men when I was in prison. Now I have one kid with
I don’t want to meet any army officer because they
are all the same. I still remember what Aronda told me the
last time I met him. He asked Mugira to arrest me and vowed
to chase me from the army, which has all happened.
I don’t want to go back to the army, it has spoilt
our future. We get little money. We have gained nothing,
yet some people joined recently and got rich overnight.