KAMPALA. A soldier attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) has escaped from Kasenyi barracks in Entebbe with two loaded automatic rifles, highly-placed military and intelligences sources said.
Pte Denis Ogwang Ayo disappeared from the high-security surveillance base at the start of this month in what SFC admitted last evening was the “first desertion” from the elite force this year.
A source, who asked not to be named due to sensitivity of the matter, said the soldier vanished with two sub-machine guns loaded with 120 bullets.
It is not clear why or how Pte Ayo exited the base while armed and in uniform.
After his disappearance, the Special Forces sent out a clarion call asking “whoever sees him” to inform state authorities.
Brig Don Nabasa, the SFC commander, said yesterday that they traced the escapee to the eastern Jinja District from where he was arrested.
“For us in the forces when you disappear we arrest you; we do not wait,” he told Daily Monitor by telephone.
The biggest desertion in the history of UPDF, formerly the National Resistance Army, was in 2013 when at least 400 soldiers, among them 37 presidential guards, left unceremoniously.
The unprecedented wave of desertions from the SFC, whose soldiers are famously proud of their unit, was linked to their August 2012 deployment as labourers on the Kisozi Ranch of President Museveni, our investigations at the time showed. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Most of the deserters, according to information obtained at the time, were from northern and eastern regions as is Pte Ayo who ran away early this month.
Asked yesterday if the Special Forces members were again being subjected to hardships, Brig Nabasa responded “no”.
“In civil service, people even abscond due to different reasons. He (Pte Ayo) deserted just like civil servants abscond and this was the first desertion (in SFC) this year,” he said.
The soldier, noted Brig Nabasa, never ran away with rifles or ammunitions and, as such, posed no risk to the population.
“People attached to the Special Forces are not different. As it happens in other units of the UPDF, it also happens in Special Forces Command,” Brig Nabasa said.
The SFC is the army’s crack unit, and its better-trained and better-armed troops have performed exceptionally when inserted in the military’s most challenging and unique assignments within and outside the country.
They generally guard the First Family, the Vice President and key state installations plus eligible state guests.
Our investigations show that Pte Ayo is currently being held at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters in Mbuya, an eastern Kampala suburb, pending trial for desertion, among other crimes.