A senior army officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) is being detained at Old Kampala Police Station on allegations of extortion.
Lt Juma Oketch was arrested this week after police’s intelligence officers received information linking him to the racket of criminals extorting and conning businessmen and unsuspecting individuals in Kampala.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Mr Emilian Kayima, confirmed Lt Oketch’s arrest saying he is a suspect of fraud and extortion.
“What is I know is that Lt Oketch was arrested on suspicion of extortion and he is at our Old Kampala cells,” Mr Kayima said.
However, a police source said the army officer was arrested over recruiting more than 30 youths into a militia group. The source said police was investigating the motive of recruiting youths as young as 18 years as reserve force.
“We have some of his youth in the cells. Most of them are aged 18 and 24 years. They possess army identity cards which we cannot tell how they got them but investigations are continuing,” a source said.
Mr Kayima dismissed reports that Lt Oketch was arrested over illegal recruitment insisting that the officer was arrested on extortion and was going to be released anytime since there was no evidence linking him to a racket of extortionists in Kampala.
“I am not aware about his involvement in illegal recruitment. Like I said he is a suspect of extortion. We may release him today because there is no evidence whatsoever connecting him to extortionists,” Mr Kayima said.
Cases of army officers involving in extortion, fraud and robbery cases have of recent become synonymous. For instance in August last year, a UPDF captain attached to National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi District was arrested for his involvement in Highway robberies.
The same month police killed another UPDF soldier suspected of carrying out armed robberies in the city against mobile money agents. He died after sustaining injuries in a shoot-out with police officers in Nakaseke District.
Brig Richard Karemire, UPDF spokesperson, was not available for a comment as he did not respond nor return our calls and text messages sent to him.