Army freezes Brig Ondoga’s account

KAMPALA

The army court has frozen the bank account of Brig Michael Ondoga, prompting his wife to level accusations of what she called a deliberate plot to destroy the one-star general’s 28-year “illustrious” military career and family.

Ms Lucie Ondoga, in the first media interview since her husband’s arrest nine months ago, said some senior UPDF officers close to the President, whom she declined to name, have conspired to harass them through emissaries, telephone calls and short text messages to her mobile handset.

“The children and myself have equally become prisoners we are not detained at Makindye (military barracks like Ondoga) but we are prisoners at home,” she said. She added: “I have a very difficult time finding food. Now I have a crisis with school fees (following freezing of the bank account). I have a crisis managing Ondoga’s elderly parents, also my own elderly parents are ill. The home people are almost always depressed because Brig Ondoga was their bread winner.”

The army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said he was not aware but added that the reported victimisation would be “very unfortunate” if true. He said: “What is important is that Brig Ondoga has a chance now to prove his innocence since he is (facing trial) before a competent court.”

According to Ms Ondoga, the brigadier’s tormenters are jealous of his rise in the army and successful command of anti-al Shabaab offensives that earned him praise from President Museveni.

Brig Ondoga was arrested and suspended on September 12, 2013, two days before he was due to take up a new appointment as the military attaché at Uganda’s High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya.

He has been indicted for command and operational failures against the al-Shabaab in Somalia, where he was a two-time commander of the Ugandan contingent under Amisom. Prosecution alleges that the lapses resulted in the death of UPDF soldiers at the frontline as well as loss or theft of military supplies and hardware.

On Monday, Ms Ondoga spoke of her frustrations, worsened by threatening telephone calls she said came from some senior army officers demanding her to “back off from doing too much to secure Brig Ondoga’s freedom”.

The brigadier and his wife were on Monday taken under military guard to the Centenary Bank branch at Freedom City in Najjanankumbi, a Kampala suburb, only to be notified by bank staff that “account blocked by court order” when they sought to withdraw Shs6 million. They have Shs12 million on the account, the wife said, and were unaware of the transaction embargo.

“We started crying in the bank, (with) Brig Ondoga saying: Now my children are also prisoners, my wife is also a prisoner, my old parents are also prisoners what did I do to the institution of the UPDF, my comrades and my Commander-in-Chief to deserve this?” she said.

Lt Col Ankunda yesterday suggested the brigadier’s account was likely blocked as part of ongoing investigations. “This is a case before court and I think we need to give the court time and space to try to resolve (the matter) according to the law,” he said.

The term of the General Court Martial team chaired by Brig Moses Ddiba Ssentongo has ended, and its spokesman, Mr Geoffrey Bushara, said he would not tell when a new team would be appointed, meaning the fate of suspects remains uncertain.

tbutagira@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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