Court martial chairman Brig. Angina will preside over the case

The objection to Brig. Angina’s chairmanship follows a long and winding trial of Capt. Richard Nana and presents a peek into an often less publicly discussed but curious military justice system.

Capt. Nana and others are facing trial for allegedly swindling more than Shs500 million dead soldiers’ pension, a charge he denies.

The army court martial chairman while still the army Chief of Staff, Land Forces, caused the arrest of Capt. Nana in March 2009, but a new assignment now finds Angina as head of the court martial and therefore trying a case he initiated.

“We state that the chairman was actually involved in the investigation and eventual arrest of our client as then Chief of Staff, Land Forces,” reads a February 27 petition to the Registrar General of Court Martial at Makindye from Bitangaro & Company Advocates, lawyers representing Capt. Nana.

“On the March 4, 2009, the Chairman ordered our client’s arrest on no formal charges and no indictment,” the lawyers wrote, “It is, therefore, unconstitutional for the same chairman to be an investigator, arresting officer and sit in judgment.”

Posting and arrest
Before his arrest, Capt. Nana had taken time off the military to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Makerere University and wrote his thesis on challenges of managing retirement benefits in the UPDF.

He was later posted to Bombo Military Barracks in the pensions department.

However, a few days into the office, he was arrested and charged with three counts of causing financial loss, embezzlement and abuse of office over some Shs500 million allegedly stolen from pensions for widows and orphans of fallen UPDF officers.

Brig. Angina was unavailable for comment as his known telephone was switched off but army spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye said he found the request by Nana’s lawyers for Angina to step down “rather presumptuous.”

“Brig. Angina did not arrest Captain Nana and his colleagues (a person),” said Col. Kulayigye, “as Chief of Staff, reports came to him about misconduct in the pensions office. He caused an investigation that resulted in those arrests and the trial.”

Col. Kulayigye said the application would further be undermined by the fact that as chairman of the General Court Martial, Brig. Angina is not the only decision maker.

By Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi, Daily Monitor

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