KAMPALA: The Makindye-based Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) General Court Martial has sentenced Private Sam Omeno from the Special Forces Command-SFC and Nathan Esia, a peasant, to 33 years in jail for robbing Shillings 750,000.
The general court-martial chaired by Lt. General Andrew Gutti convicted the duo on Monday on their own plea of guilty to aggravated robbery last week. Omeno, who was attached to the infantry of the Special Forces Command, and Esia were convicted for robbing Deo Opedes of 750,000 on October 17th, 2021 at Manga village in Manga Parish in Kamuge sub-county in Bukedea district.
According to the state, the convicts used an AK-47 gun with the registration number UG-UPDF AK 575363 to execute their mission. The duo have been on trial together with Alex Okolong, alias Aguero, a peasant, and Joshua Solomon Opolot, a student at Kaliro National Teachers College in Kaliro district, who have since maintained their innocence.
On February 21st, 2022, Lt. Alex Lasto Mukhwana read the brief facts of the case against Omeno and Esia. According to the charge sheet, in July 2021, Private Omeno and another SFC soldier identified as James Odou, while at Kasenyi training school, illegally obtained an AK 47 with seven magazines containing 210 bullets and transported them to Kamuge sub-county, Bukedea district, where they left them with Opolot.
On October 17th, 2021, Opolot gave the weapon to Nathan and Okolong, who then used it to rob Opedes of his money. The prosecution asked the court to hand them a deterrent sentence, saying that their actions taint the image of the army and that cases of robbery are rampant in the country.
On their part, the convicts asked for leniency on the grounds that they had children and families to look after and that it was their first time committing a crime. While sentencing the duo, Gutti noted that 35 years of imprisonment is appropriate, but considering the mitigating factors, he had to deduct 16 months and the five days they had spent on remand.
He, therefore, handed them 33 years and 25 days in jail but advised them to appeal the sentence if they were dissatisfied with it. According to section 286(2) of the Penal Code Act, the maximum penalty for the offence of aggravated robbery is death.