The government has defended the award of medals to Uganda People’s Defence-UPDF soldiers attached to External Security Organization-ESO who barred members of the probe into land matters from accessing Mutungo hill.
On February 6, the soldiers barred Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, and her team from accessing a piece of land they are investigating in Mutungo zone IV.
The officers including sergeant Julius Katuliba, David Kyabona, Staff Sergeant Sirat Igga, Lance Corporal Veneranda Tumusiime and Lance Corporal Robert Kyanyikire were on Sunday awarded the medals.
Katuliba was awarded with the Rwenzori Star medal which is the third highest decoration awarded for distinguished or exemplary military service including great responsibility in military service. The other four were award with the golden jubilee medals.
The act has since attracted mixed reactions from the public with a section of people criticizing the move. They argued that it is wrong for the President to award medal to officers who looked down to a land commission which was delivering its mandate.
The Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says that the officers acted heroic and deserve to be recognised. He explains that they carried out their duties with highest level of professionalism because they didn’t accept to be disarmed and there were no shots fired.
Opondo says the award is also a wake-up call to other officers who usually forget their mandate and bow to pressure from several people who aren’t their commanding officers.
Opondo also dismissed claims that the move was intended to undermine the Bamugemereire-led commission. He, however, says that the commission was wrong to visit the ESO facility without permission from authorities.