Saturday, July 14, 2007


How Amin's arrest triggered off the mutiny and takeover
In this third and final part of an exclusive report, the Sunday Monitor brings you never-before-published details of the military coup in 1971 that brought Idi Amin to power and changed the course of Ugandan history
Last Sunday, in the second part of this series about the January 1971 Amin coup, we left off at a point when president Milton Obote had given orders for the arrest of Amin as the Head of State was leaving Entebbe Airport for the Commonwealth meeting in Singapore on January 24.
After a meeting in the home of the Inspector-General of Police, Wilson Erinayo Oryema, the army's Quartermaster-General, Lt. Col. David Oyite-Ojok, had decided to take up the principal role of arresting Amin and keeping Uganda under control until the return of Obote from the Commonwealth summit in Singapore.
On the Sunday morning of January 24, 1971, Oyite-Ojok work up, had breakfast, and dressed up in an olive green shirt, olive green trousers, black shoes, and a green jungle hat.
Shortly after 4p.m, he entered his green Land Rover with a Fitted-For-Field radio (FFR) and his driver and headed to the Malire Regimental Base at Lubiri. The driver parked next to the pole hosting the Ugandan flag and Oyite-Ojok jumped out and walked to the Quarter Guard. Something seemed to be bothering him, as he looked angry and lost in thought.
He summoned the Guard Commander, a corporal, and told him to sound the fire alarm bugle. The corporal sounded the bugle and immediately soldiers, as they had been trained, started rushing to the scene. Soldiers who had been out of the barracks returned to base.
When the gathering of men was almost complete, the Regimental Sergeant Major Otuchi Ogwang ordered the soldiers into silence and to listen to Lt. Col. Oyite-Ojok. It was just past five O'clock. Oyite-Ojok then started addressing them-in Luo, which most soldiers could not understand.
When it was slightly past 7p.m, Oyite-Ojok told Captain Charles Nsumba to order all commissioned officers to report to the nearby Officers’ Mess (the present offices of the Joint Clinical Research Centre at Mengo that had once been the home of the Buganda prime minister).
He then jumped back into his Land Rover and drove away. The Acholi and Langi soldiers began assembling in the staff canteen, a hall occasionally used for dances and parties.Captain Nsumba and other officers Lt. Abdallahtif, Lt. Elly Eseni, Lt. Dusman Sabuni, Captain Isaac Lumago, Lt. Kenneth Onzima, 2nd Lt. Juma Ali (later better known as "Butabika") and the Malire Paymaster 2nd Lt. James Obbo, refused to go to the Mess as Oyite-Ojok had ordered.
The mood was now changing and suspicion was growing. As the remaining soldiers who were not Acholi or Langi milled about, puzzled by the strange turn of events, one of them called Sergeant Major Musa Eyega, the deputy Platoon Commander of Malire's A Company, stood up and announced that if anybody was from West Nile, a Mukiga, Muganda, Japadhola, Munyankore or any other tribe, they should "join us or perish."Eyega declared that, from what he could see, there was about to be a bloody purge of the army. It started dawning on the soldiers that this might have to do with the animosity towards the Army Commander Major General Idi Amin.
Eyega then selected a few men under him to get weapons. The A Company was the section of the Malire Regiment that manned the main battle tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APSs), jeeps and missiles.
Lance Corporal Dralega, the section commander of the Reconnaissance Platoon, drove a jeep armed with a Vickers Medium Machine Gun (MMG) to the scene.Assuming that the Acholi and Langi troops would take over the armoury, Dralega led his hand-picked men toward the armoury where, to their surprise, they found a sharpshooter called Corporal Vincent Ogwang and five other soldiers already in battle positions. They had already been deployed there by Oyite-Ojok.
Ogwang and his men opened fire in self-defence at Dralega and his men. A Lugbara Corporal nicknamed "Ojwuku" (after the Nigerian Ibo secessionist leader) crawled on the ground to avoid the fire and seized a gun from one of Ogwang's men and used it to shoot another in the group.
Dralega then set the jeep in gear one, stepped onto the clutch, then leapt out of it, causing it to roar into the armoury, where it crashed. Dralega and his men then seized several rifles.
The action lasted close to two hours and then toward 9 p.m. Eyega and his men then stormed the staff canteen where they put all the assembled Acholi and Langi under arrest. They were overpowered and told to surrender whatever weapon, piece of metal, or anything as tiny as a pin to Eyega's men.
As the Malire men found out, Oyite-Ojok in his address in Luo, had told the Acholi and Langi that shortly before departing to Singapore for the inaugural Commonwealth Heads of State and Government meeting, President Obote had ordered Oyite-Ojok to arrest Amin and purge the army of soldiers thought to be loyal to the army commander.
Eyega then ordered all shooting to be halted immediately in order not to alert any other troops in Kampala to what was taking place at the Malire Regiment barracks. Meanwhile, the Commanding Officer of Malire, Lt. Col. Agustino Akwangu, had arrived at the barracks. On his way from the barracks and back to town, Lt. Col. Oyite-Ojok had dropped by Lt. Col. Akwangu's home not far from the barracks and told him to go and take charge of the situation.
Akwangu, a Langi, arrived in his green Land Rover covered with a weather proof tarpaulin cloth accompanied by two escorts. He was immediately seized and one of the mutinying soldiers immediately charged at Akwangu and cut off his head with a bayonet.Akwangu's adjutant, Lt. Francis Dhutho, an Alur, climbed over the wall and fled towards the Kabaka's lake.
Events now started getting out of hand and Eyega became worried about how the Luo soldiers in the other barracks in Uganda would respond to this most unexpected mutiny.He contacted some colleagues with better experience and training to come in and help him out. They agreed and came in to give the mutiny professional leadership.
The following junior officers came to Eyega's rescue: Second Lieutenants Muki, Juma ("Butabika") Ali, Mawa, Moses Ali, Juma Oris, Isaac Maliyamungu; Lieutenants Kenneth Onzima; Capt. Francis Ogubi, a Samia, Capt. Patrick Kimumwe from Busoga; the Commander of the A Company Capt. Isaac Lumago and Capt. Jackson Avidria both from West Nile; Capt. Sostene, Capt. Nsumba and Lt. Maliyamungu, the deputy commander of Malire's A Company.
They were to be joined later by Capt. Michael Kalyesubula and 2nd Lt. Francis Kakooza, both Baganda. Also involved in the mutiny at this stage was Capt. Mustapha Adrisi, the commander of Malire's Headquarters Company (later Vice President under Amin.) and Adrisi's deputy, Lt. Elly Aseni.
The second lieutenants had been sent to Britain for officer cadet courses in 1968 at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and commissioned in July 1970 by President Obote.This group of junior officers then took over from Eyega and started directing the mutiny.This group of junior officers --- realising that what they had on their hands now was clearly a mutiny that was steadily turning into the beginnings of a coup --- decided to contact their colleagues in other units across Uganda.
They started with Jinja, the second most important military centre in the country after Kampala. A soldier dressed in civilian clothes was given a Vespa scooter and told to head to Jinja and deliver a secret message to one of the men there, Company Commander Capt. Charles Arube, a Sandhurst-trained officer and from the same Kakwa tribe as Idi Amin.
The soldier, Sgt. Juma Dralega, once in Jinja, called Arube from a public phone booth and told him he had an extremely urgent message that he needed to pass on. He then rode to the King George VI barracks and gave the message to Capt. Arube.
The officers and men of Malire in Kampala had switched off their military communication equipment and were observing strict radio silence. The army's daily newsletter called "Part One Order" that was usually distributed to all units in the country to keep officers and men abreast of news in the army, was also suspended.
Arube then took over in Jinja and sounded the bugle and all Acholi and Langi officers and men were put under arrest. A policeman from Jinja's central police station was told to bring dozens of handcuffs, which he later delivered in a sack, driving a Peugeot 404 car to the barracks. All the Acholi and Langi soldiers were peacefully locked up, as had been done in Kampala.
This procedure was repeated in other major military barracks across the country: Major William Ndahendekire in Mbale, Major Yusuf Gowan and Capt. John Simba, a Mukiga, took over the Simba Battalion barracks in Mbarara and immediately sent reinforcements to Kampala.
Two Iteso pilots, Capt. Emadit and Major Joseph Esimu, coordinated the coup at the Gulu Air Force base. All this activity of subduing troops potentially loyal to Oyite-Ojok went on between 5p.m. on Sunday January 24, 1971 and 6 a.m. the following day, January 25, 1971.
The facts above dispute the long-held belief that the coup that brought Amin to power was staged by illiterate and mostly Muslim soldiers from West Nile.A case in point: Far from being an illiterate officer as Henry Kyemba's book A State Of Blood describes Isaac Maliyamungu, the latter had attended Bombo Sudanese Secondary School and later completed his O'Level at Namilyango College before joining the army.
At the Nile Mansions Hotel in Kampala in February 1977 during the rally at which the Anglican Archbishop and two cabinet ministers were accused of being part of a plot to oust Amin's government, Maliyamungu stood just behind the shoulders of the alleged conspirators to ensure they did not omit a single line of the confession statements they were reading at the parade. Only a reasonably educated person can read and understand such complex statements in English.
By 10p.m. on January 24, 1971, Radio Uganda had been taken over by men in two APCs and the technicians on duty ordered to play martial music continuously. That was when most of the country realised that something dramatic was underway.The coup was by now also taking on an international dimension.
Major Robert ("Bob") Astles, a British national, long time resident in Uganda and friend to both Obote and Amin was in a secret location in Kampala handling the more complicated phase of the maneouvres.
Astles sent messages back and forth between Uganda and Kenya to unidentified British Major at the joint British-Kenyan army base at Nanyuki, a trading centre in central Kenya.
The messages between this British Major and Astles were sent to Amin and passed on to the Chief Signaller of the Uganda Army, Lt. Col. Michael Ombia who was based in Jinja and who, along with men under him, had changed the radio frequency used by the Uganda Army and the coup plotters communicated via a new frequency that only they could log onto.
At the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, an Israeli General called Rabin had set up a temporary communication centre and was coordinating tactical information with the British via Colonel Baruch Bar-Lev. Bar-Lev, who was the head of the Israeli military training team in Uganda, coordinated the coup from his home along Princess Anne Drive in Bugolobi, a residential district to the east of Kampala.
A flurry of orders went from the British Major to Astles, Amin, Ombia, from Ombia to Capt. Francis Bakabulindi, the chief signaller at the army headquarters at Mbuya, then on to other army units along with the Malire Regiment.
It remains unclear to this day whether the General Rabin coordinating the Anglo-Israeli hand in the coup from Nairobi's Hilton Hotel was the chief of staff of the Israeli army, General Yitzhak Rabin, who later became Prime Minister.
After Radio Uganda was secured, the Chief Medical Officer of the Uganda Army, Col. Dr. Gideon Nsiiko Bogere drove to the Malire barracks. He said Amin, still in a secret location, had called him and asked him to check on the progress at Malire.
Seeing that the coup was progressing well, Col. Bogere asked the soldiers what they would explain to the world if they were asked why they had staged the coup.That was when the Malire troops realised that they had succeeded but had not thought about a formal statement. They quickly set up a team of men to draft a statement to be read over Radio Uganda.
Although he was a Langi, the Chief Clerk of Malire, Sgt. Major John Ogole (later a Brigade commander in the in 1980s in the UNLA), was deemed reasonable and was brought from the room where the detained Acholi and Langi men were still locked up and requested to write a draft statement explaining why the army had overthrown Obote.Ogole, with the help of men under him like Corporal John Murangira, a Munyankore, Sgt. Isaac Bakka, Sgt. Shadrak Remo, Capt. Jackson Avudira, Capt. Abdul Kisuule, Capt. Stephen Amimi, thought out reasons for the coup.
Ogole, who had been taking down notes by hand then had the reasons compiled to 18 and typed using typewriters in the room as other soldiers watched. That afternoon, at 2:30 p.m, Amin --- who had not been seen in public since the day President Obote was seen off at Entebbe International Airport en route to Singapore --- arrived at the Malire headquarters driving himself in an open jeep and seated next to him was a Malire staff officer named Capt. Valentine Ocima.
As Amin entered the barracks, soldiers stood up and applauded him, quietly chanting "Jogoo! Jogoo!" (Hero! Hero!). He then addressed them and thanked them for their part in the coup.
A junior officer from the army headquarters at Bulange called Warrant Officer Sam Wilfred Aswa was dispatched to Radio Uganda carrying the freshly typed 18-reasons statement. At 3:45 p.m., Aswa read a short statement on Radio Uganda:
"Here is a message from the soldiers of the Uganda Army....", whereupon he read out the eighteen reasons for the overthrow of the government of President Obote.Just after 6p.m., the Inspector General of Police --- Wilson Erinayo Oryema, an Alur by tribe but whose family had settled in Acholi and who had done much to shield Amin from harm in the preceding few months --- came on the airwaves of Radio Uganda to endorse the coup.
"I, the Inspector General of Police. Mr E.W. Oryema, have met Major-General Idi Amin Dada, the Commander of the Uganda Army and Air Force. After discussion today, the twenty-fifth day of January 1971, I have agreed that from today the army has taken over the government and it’s now the military government..."
By then, one of the largest crowds ever seen in Uganda was taking shape in Kampala, with hundreds of thousands of hysterical men and women flooding the streets to welcome the military coup.
That same day, the British government announced that it had recognised the military government. The following day, the only two countries in Africa that were never colonised, Ethiopia and Liberia, became the second and third to recognise Amin's government.
Idi Amin was now in power.

1 comment:

LADO said...

Why Does Britain Hate General Idi Amin From Lado , One Time President Of Uganda ?



Since President Apolo Miltone Obote ' s Coup d ' Etat on 24th January 1971 , Sunday night , failed -------- and the Counter Coup d ' 'Etat of 25th January 1971 , led by Sergent - Major Musa a Sudanic Lugbari , succeeded then on the same day at 15 hours of the day January 1971 the overthrow of the announced on the National Radio of Uganda by the Warrant Officer II Sam Wilfred Asua , a Sudanic Lugbari thus giving the 18 reasons for causing the Struggle and Affirming that the change over of the Government was a result of Self - Defence ------- against a total extermination against the Sudanic tribes of Uganda by the Nilotic tribes of Uganda as stipulted by Mr . Obote himself before he left for Singapore .

Futhermore on the same day of January 1971 , a Military Junta was formed and Negotions for a Military Head of Government was searched and negotiated . During the same day and the same period , there were not many Senior Military Officers of Sudanic Tribes .However there were only four who were in Uganda and one was outside Uganda . And those four in Uganda were : Major General Idi Amin who by then was under House Arrest , Colonel Juma Musa who was the Commander of Uganda Air Force , Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Obitre Gama who by then was Commander of Para - Troop Battalion , and LIeutenant Colonel Michael Odonga who was the Commander of Magamaga Battalion ( Logistics ) . While Colonel John Bart Agami was in France as a Political Refugee .


According to the Military tradition and usual Military Etiquette the former Commander of the Uganda Armed Forces , Major General Idi Amin Dada , was chosen to be the Head of the Military Government of Uganda --------- with Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Obitre Gama as the Minister of Internal Affairs . And Lieutenant Michel Odonga as Ambassodor to USSR , and Major Michel Ombia as High Commissioner to India . In addition , all the Permanent Secretaries of respective Ministries were promoted to Ministers of their Ministries : ( a ) Ministry of Natural Resources and Animal Husbandry which was given to Mr . Erinayo . W. Oryiema Inspector General of Uganda Police Force who was a Nilotic Acholi tribe as a Minister . ( b ) The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was given to Mr . Fabiano Okyera , Commissioner of Uganda Prisons Force who was also a Nilotic Acholi tribe as Mr . Oryema . And for the Nilotic Alur our Neighbours in the Region of West Nile , Mr . Severrino Ovonji who was the the Dierctor General of the East African Harbours Corporation was appointed the Minister of Public Services and Cabinet Affairs . . While Mr . Jino Geria, Chief Statistian of the East African Customs and Exercises was appointed Secretary to the Treasury , Ministry of Finance . And a propasal to create a Council of State to replace the Queen of England as the Chief of State ( Head of State ) of Uganda , thus reclaiming back our ( Uganda ' s ) Sovereignty which Britain refused to relinguish since 1962 .


The first Cabinet of Ministers of the Military Government composed of the 18 ( eighteen ) Ministers of Senior Cabinet Rank . All Ministers were of Bantu Tribes except four Ministers ( Mr . Erinayo Oryiema , Mr . Fabiano Okwera , Mr . Wilson Lutara , and Mr . Severino Ovonji who are Nilotic / Luo Tribes -------- while the only Minisster of Sudanic Tribes was Lieutenant Colonel Earnst Obitre Gama . Officially , Major General Idi Amin Dada was the Head of Military Government and Commander - in - Chief of the Armed Forces inclulding the Minister of Defence . So there were only two Sudanics .


Of all the Ugandan Ambassodors and High Commissioners to Foreign Countries or States , there were only two Sudanics appointed in 1971 : Lieutenant Colonel Michael Odonga as Ambassador to USSR and Major Michael Ombia as High Commissioner to India .

The rest of the Ambassodors and High Commssioners were from Bantu Tribes . And most of the Permanent Secretaries were also Bantu .


The Directors of the most important State Agencies were headed in 1971 , by the Bantu Tribes except two directors who are not Bantu :

( 1 ) Acting Chief of Staff , Uganda Armed Forces : Lieutenant Colonel Frances Nyangweso from Samia Tribe , Bukedi District , Eastern Region .

( 2 ) Chief Secretary to the Treasury , Ministry of Finance: Mr Jino Geria from Sudanic Lugbari , West Nile Region -

( 3 ) Goevrnor , Bank of Uganda : Mr . Joseph Mubira , Bantu / Muganda -

( 4 ) Chief Justice , High Court of Uganda : Mr . Benedicto Kiwanuka , Bantu / Muganda or a Ganda Tribe , Bugunda Region -

( Vice Chancellor , Makerere University : Mr. Francis Kaimuzu . Bantu Tribe . Western Region -

And most of the State Agencies of Lesser importance , and also many State Corporations ( sometimes known as Parastatal Bodies ) and many important corporations and Private Corporations and Companies and Banking Institutiions and Education Institutions were headed by the Bantu Tribes compared to the other Ethinic Groups such as Nilotics , Sudanics , Hamatics and others .


The Supreme Council / SMC is what is commonly referred to as the Defence Council . Its Chairman , since 1971 was the Head of Military Government - Major General Idi Amin - and its own Secretary was Captain Emilio Mondo. While every Senior Military Officer and all Battalion Commanders and other Heads of Military Units and Security Units inclulding the Police Force / Prisons Force are Members of the Council . ( NB : TITLES AND RANKS ARE ALL THOSE OF THE AT THE TIME OF APPOINTMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERSON ) .


The Council of State is also known as the Supreme Council of State / SCS . It was composed of five Members and with a Secretary :

( 1 ) Major General Idi Amin Dada , Kakua Tribe / Sudanic , Chairman

( 2 ) Colonel John Bart Agami , Lugbari Tribe / Sudanic , Secretary .

( 3 ) Lieutenant Colonel Earnst Obitre Gama , Lugbari Tribe / Sudanic

( 4 ) Major Charles Arube , Kakua Tribe / Sudanic

( 5 ) Lieutanant Ali Moses , Ma 'di Tribe / Sudanic .

These five physical persons were to be the Joint Chief of State for Uganda to replace the Queen of England who was the Chief of Uganda since 1962 .



March 1971 . Entebbe , Uganda The Soverign State of Uganda



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