Sunday, July 8, 2007


The inside story of the 1971 coup (Part 2)
In the second part of this exclusive report on the inside story of the 1971 Amin coup, the Sunday Monitor brings you how Amin burst into several plots to arrest him and Obote’s order to arrest Amin which triggered off the January 1971 coup
Why Oyite-Ojok hated AminLast week in the first part of this exclusive feature on the inside story of Idi Amin's 1971 coup, Sunday Monitor examined the intrigues within the army, as a group of officers led by Lt. Col. David Oyite-Ojok.
Oyite-Ojok's formal title in the Uganda Army was Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General. There have been conflicting opinions for several decades about whether he attended his cadet training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst or the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, both in England.
HATED AMIN: Oyite Ojok
FORMER PRESIDENT: Obote ordered Amin’s arrest
It now appears conclusive that Oyite-Ojok attended the Mons Officer Cadet School but he allowed the uncertainly to remain among Ugandans, since Sandhurst was regarded as the more prestigious school.
At the Mons cadet school, Oyite had failed the commander's paper and only passed the engineer's paper. This is the reason he became the Quarter Master-General of the army, a largely administrative position although he much preferred a battlefield post.
The two men in the Uganda Army of the 1960s most highly regarded in battlefield command abilities were Colonel Tito Okello and Major General Idi Amin.
Whether this was the reason for the resentment that Oyite-Ojok felt toward Amin or whether Amin had mocked Oyite-Ojok over his largely administrative role in the army, is not clear.
The most important question in all this, is why Amin, a semi-literate soldier from a small tribe in West Nile, was so popular within the army and Ugandan society at that time? The answer to this question is the key to explaining several mysteries of Ugandan history.Amin was a man of distinction in many areas and had more outstanding all-round qualities than any other Ugandan soldier.
Amin was the first Black African soldier in the Kings African Rifles army of East Africa to be commissioned an officer, a second lieutenant. The second was Lt. Jackson Mulinge, who as a General would later become the Chief of General Staff of the Kenyan Armed Forces.
The third was Lt. Mrisho Sarakikya of Tanzania, who later rose to the rank of Brigadier, then Major-General in the Tanzanian army. He was the first commander of the Tanzanian National Defence Forces in July 1964.
Also, when Uganda attained independence on October 9, 1962, Major Augustine Karugaba, a young officer trained as a Cadet at Sandhurst, was given the honours of leading the flag-raising ceremony at Kololo Airstrip. Idi Amin was a captain at the time and the departing British insisted that he too should do the honours.
One of the men standing next to the flag staff as the British flag, the Union Jack, was being lowered. However, Ugandan history was later revised to erase any mention of Amin as one of the Ugandan army officers who helped raise the Ugandan flag that night.Secondly, as Army Commander Amin introduced the system by which all officers in the Uganda Army were required to carry with them money at all times (a habit Amin personally carried over when he became president).
Amin had realised that often when lower ranking soldiers got domestic problems, it would take a long time for them to get help because of the army bureaucracy. Amin's solution was that officers had to carry money wherever they went and if a soldier approached them, they should give the soldier in crisis the money.
The soldier's number would then be sent to the paymaster in their units and the money deducted from their wages at the end of the month. Any officer who did not carry this emergency money would be charged with "disobedience of lawful command" under section 252 of the Army Statute. Because of that, Amin earned a huge loyal following among ordinary soldiers.
Thirdly, Amin personally was a very brave soldier. During battlefield operations, he had developed a fighting formation that the soldiers called the "One up, Platoon attack, one up, Company attack". It involved a fast mobile attack on enemy positions in which he would confuse the enemy with conflicting gunfire and encircle enemy positions with his men, before quickly withdrawing. Soldiers were amazed at how few casualties their units got every time Amin commanded an operation and these low casualties endeared him to the rank-and-file troops.
Early in 1963, the Uganda Army commanded by Amin launched a raid into northwest Kenya to repel Pokot and Turkana tribesmen who had invaded Uganda and stolen cattle from the Karimojong. Amin made the incursion at Kacheliba about four kilometres from the Uganda-Kenya border.
Kenya protested the cross-border raid but they had no evidence because Amin had carried it out in such away that the Ugandan troops did not suffer any fatal casualties who the Kenyans would have used as proof of aggression. Neither was there trace that Ugandan troops had entered Kenya.
When Ugandan troops were sent to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) to bolster the forces loyal to the country’s assassinated leader Patrice Lumumba, Amin applied the same military tactics on the battlefield.
As a soldier, he was both a paratrooper and had basic training as a pilot in Israel. He was fairly good on shooting with the rifle and excellent with a pistol. He actually loved to fire off a bullet at a cigarette in a person's mouth without hitting the person.His slogan, "I fear nobody but God" intrigued many soldiers. Some thought he had spiritual powers that gave him that confidence to utter such statements and drive about without bodyguards.
As an officer, Amin was conscientious, always appearing at official occasions exactly on time and going to his office as early as 7:00 a.m. (This tendency to keep time is what brought Amin close to death on numerous occasions, as would-be assassins could predict at exactly what time he would be at a particular place.)
To the wider Ugandan society, Amin came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. He was as good a soccer as basketball player, motor racing driver, and boxer (he was the undisputed East African heavyweight champion for nine years during the 1950s).
As army commander, this gregarious soldier mingled with ordinary people. He was wont to walk into a bar, declare that he knew everybody in the bar was broke, and then without waiting invitation would offer drinks to all. He generously tipped waiters and waitresses in the bars, hotels, and restaurants he went to.
He also played the electric guitar and accordion (as head of state he gave up the guitar and concentrated on the accordion), and was a good ballroom dancer. So good was he at formal dancing that women always seemed to want to dance with him at State and other formal occasions. He had a fondness for tall women like Madina Najjemba, Mariam Kibedi, and Princess Elizabeth Bagaya of Toro.
Attractive, intellectual and high class women were drawn to Amin as were ordinary women. This background to the personality of Amin helps explain the events that were about to rock Uganda at the dawn of the 1970s.
January 1971, the hour of reckoningWhen January 1971 came along, the tensions between Amin and senior officers under him continued unabated. This time David Oyite-Ojok and Amin's other detractors got Obote's attention.
On October 7, 1970, President Obote accompanied by President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya visited Makerere College in Kampala to attend a ceremony where the college was to officially become a university-- University of East Africa.
The three heads of state were politely applauded. Amin had not been seen in public for several days, igniting speculation that he had been arrested. Suddenly as Obote was delivering his speech, Amin appeared unannounced, in full battle camouflage, hands buried haughtily in his pockets, and a loud cheer broke out from the Makerere students, who gave him a standing ovation.
The loud and sustained applause that Amin received at Makerere --- Makerere, of all places where only well-educated people are respected --- for the first time gave Obote a full understanding of the paranoia that Lt. Col. Oyite-Ojok had been feeling for the previous three years about Amin. Amin was clearly starting to threaten the balance of power in the country.
On January 11, 1971, President Obote summoned Amin to his office at the Parliament Buildings and coldly told him that the army had overshot its budget by 2,691,343 Pound sterling. (Uganda used to use the British currency in the same way the US dollar is the main international currency today).
Obote also informed Amin about the report into the killing of Okoya which, he said, he had heard pointed to Amin. In mentioning the excess spending of money in the army, Obote was hinting to him that he, Amin, had misused these funds.
Meanwhile, that same day January 11, a secret meeting was held at the home of a civil servant and supporter of the ruling Uganda Peoples Congress party called Maitum Engena in Kololo.
It was attended by a number of senior government officials, among them Oyite-Ojok. They discussed how to impress upon Obote the urgency of having Amin arrested as soon as possible.
Realising that the moves to purge him were gaining momentum, Amin called a press conference at the mosque in Bukoto, outside the city centre on Saturday January 16. At the press conference Amin said the Uganda Army under him would never overthrow the Uganda government. He also denied reports that he had embezzled money meant for the army.
He told reporters that President Obote planned to have him arrested using General Service Unit intelligence agents. Finally, Amin declared: "I fear nobody but God."Amin had been tipped off by a sympathiser in the GSU of the plot to arrest him. Clearly at this stage, Uganda was moving into a crisis as serious as the one the central government had with the Buganda kingdom administration in May 1966.
The director general of the GSU intelligence agency, Naphtali Akena Adoko, had decided to contain the situation before it went out of hand. Adoko, a lawyer, had, like many GSU staff, received his intelligence training in Israel.
In 1970, Adoko had created a wing in the General Service Unit called the State Research Bureau. It was a kind of counterintelligence unit whose work was to keep an eye on leading politicians, senior civil servants, and other prominent public figures that might be a threat to the State or be working for international interests of hostile countries in that intensely competitive Cold War period of the 1960s.
One of the pioneer staff of the State Research Bureau was a young man called Yoweri Museveni, a Marxist who had recently completed his studies at the University of East Africa, Dar-es-Salaam.
Since most of the GSU agents were trained in intelligence by Israeli lieutenants in Jinja or Kabamba barracks in Mubende, it can be reasonably assumed that Museveni was trained in Kabamba (which may partly explain why he started his NRA guerrilla war there in 1981, the barracks he was familiar with.)
For some reason Museveni too --- but independently of Oyite-Ojok --- had developed a hostile attitude toward Amin. The first ever summit meeting of the Heads of Government of the British Commonwealth was scheduled to be held in Singapore in East Asia toward the end of the month. But Obote was reluctant to attend it, given the unsettling situation in the country regarding Amin.
However Obote was persuaded by Nyerere and Zambia's President Kenneth David Kaunda to attend. Fluent in formal, erudite English, gifted with a deep and powerful voice and ringing oratory, these African leaders felt that Obote would best represent Africa's stand that Britain should stop selling arms to apartheid South Africa and white supremacist Rhodesia.
As Obote's staff were preparing for Singapore, Museveni appeared at the President's Office and said he had an urgent message for President Obote. In 2004, the late Adonia Tiberondwa, a minister of industry in Obote's second government, told journalist Andrew Mwenda that the president's staff, being busy, did not attend to Museveni and kept him waiting at the reception.
Museveni had something urgent to tell Obote: Amin, said Museveni, was amassing arms at Bamunanika outside Kampala. He, Museveni, had that information in a report he had compiled on Amin. Somehow, nobody in Obote's office was in a frame of mind to attend to Museveni. Tiberondwa said Museveni became frantic and angrily stormed out of the building.
The feeling among the top layers of political power in Uganda was that the country was faced with impending doom. But still nobody seemed able to put a finger to it, except to feel strongly that Amin should be arrested.
Amin heightened the tension in Kampala by going about his business and repeating his intriguing "I fear nobody but God" declaration. While Amin professed to fear nobody but God, everybody in power in Uganda seemed to fear nobody but Amin.
On Friday January 22, Obote was taken to Entebbe to catch a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) flight to Singapore. He was to be seen off by the vice president John Babiiha, Minister of Internal Affairs Basil Kiiza Bataringaya and several other cabinet ministers.
And as was the tradition, the senior security officers also saw him off. They included Chief of Intelligence Akena Adoko, Col. Albertino Langoya, Lt. Col. David Oyite-Ojok, the Inspector General of Police, Lt. Col. Wilson Erinayo Oryema, the Commissioner of Prisons Fabian Okware, the director of the Police Criminal Investigation Department, the Ugandan of Pakistani descent Mohammed Hassan, and Col. Tito OkelloThe army commander Idi Amin was not invited but he decided to go later anyway. He drove his green BMW to Entebbe to see off Obote to Singapore.
There in the VIP lounge of Entebbe International Airport Amin found Obote and his inner circle in a closed meeting and it was made clear to him that he was not to be part of that meeting and he was the subject of the tense discussion. Amin left the room.
Noticing how out of place Amin felt, Obote's Principal Private Secretary Henry Kyemba later walked over to him and talked. "What shall you bring me from Singapore?" Amin asked Kyemba. "A radio," Kyemba replied.
Obote's last words to his aides, just before he boarded the BOAC's Vickers VC-10 jetliner were, "Arrest Amin." The official reason for the arrest was to be that Amin had embezzled 250 million dollars intended for arms purchases.
After the meeting, Oryema secretly sent a message to Amin, telling him he had something urgent to disclose. He said Obote had just left instructions for the arrest of Amin.
The next day, Saturday January 23, a meeting was held at Oryema's home in Kampala. It was attended by Oryema, Akena Adoko, Bataringaya, Oyite-Ojok, Langoya, Hassan, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Chris Ntende. At issue was how to go about arresting Amin and how prepared they were.
There was a great sense of alarm in the meeting. Amin was supposed to have been arrested on Friday not long after Obote left for Singapore or at the latest on Saturday. And yet the officials meeting in Oryema's house had been informed that Amin had disappeared.
Something simply did not add up: almost every time Amin was supposed to be arrested or assassinated, it seemed, Amin appeared to get advance knowledge of the plans, and averted them. Who had tipped off Amin this time, the group wondered. Oryema feigned bewilderment too.
Totally alarmed at the prospect that the plan to arrest Amin had leaked to him once again, this time with grave consequences, Ntende was told to get ready and fly to Singapore on a chartered plane to inform Obote that if he did not urgently intervene, there was going to be a mutiny in the army or, worse, a coup led by Amin.
At this juncture, Oyite-Ojok fearing the worst, took matters into his hands. That night, he sat down at home and started planning action that would resolve the problem of Amin once and for all. Uganda was about witness one of the most dramatic days in all its history.
Next week, we shall bring you what Oyite-Ojok did the following day on January 24, 1971 that sparked the coup and marked the dawn of what was later to be called the reign of terror.
Source: Interviews with Rev. Isaac Bakka, former Army Chaplain, 1976-79; interviews with former secretaries of President Obote; background research on the Internet; clarifications from various Sunday Monitor readers; the Uganda Almanac book of records; Voice of Uganda and The People newspaper files, 1971 and 1972


LADO said...


When Lado the leader Agofe Atabua reached the military rank of Colonel, serving in the Kings African Rifles ( KAR ) 4th Regiment which was British, with headquaters in Bombo, Uganda , He went to fight for the British in Burma in 2° World War ( WWII ) with the 4th Regiment of the Kings Africans Rifles, which later was stationed in Jinja, Uganda.

The Lado leader resigned to carry out the Independence of Lado in 1947. He was replaced by a British Colonel called Alan Knight, As a man with humane feelings He was a sort of friendly to Africans : an Englishman, a rare case. The Lado leader was assassinated on 14th April 1948, because he asked USSR to raise the question of Lado at the UN in 1947, and the British found that was not the right thing to do. They said He was opening the eyes of many Africans and African countries.

This is because He became the chairman of African Chiefs in a conference which was held in Manchester in 1945, and Kwame Nkrumah ( whose first name was Francis ) became the secretary and Jomo Kenyatta ( whose real name was Johnston Kamau ) became assistant secretary.

This Conference was also known as the Pan African Association ( PAA ) What happened to PAA ? This was a frightening issue for the Americans and the British. Therefore He the Lado leader ( Atobua ) was assassinated. There was a 4 Year Lado - British war following the assassination of Atobua from 1948 to 1952. This Lado-British war was stopped by Sir Winston Churchill when he became Prime minister in 1951. But during the time of the assassination of Atabua in 1948, a Labour Government was in Power, led by Rt Hon Clement Richard Attlee as Prime minister of Britain. Not from far yesterdays there has been a Labour Government again, led by Rt Hon Anthony Charles Blair who has been believed to be doing all possible to save the Africans such as through formations of New Parties for African Development programmes .

The British keep Silent yet of having grabed the living today's Leader of Lado and was taken by force to Kings African Rifles in 1960 and commissioned as a Lieutenant in the third KAR,( 3rd regiment ) which was Scottish commanded, East African command, in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1961, He was taken to Sandhurst,( the Royal Military Academy in England ). He finished his studies there the same year, which was not an easy issue for the English, knowing it was his grandfather, who fought the British the most ( from 1914 -1919 and 1930-1937). He was taken back to the 3rd regiment in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 1962, while a Captain He was then taken to go and fight in Western Uganda by the border with Ruanda. At a place called Kisoro. After this, He was taken back to Nairobi and appointed High Commissioner ( KAR ). Today when you talk of High Commissioner you are talking diplomacy but militarily we should say High Adjutant of King African Rifles ( KAR.). He represented the British Imperial Chief of Staff in Nairobi. On march 1st 1962, He was appointed a full Colonel without passing through the rank of Major first and sent to command 4th Regiment ( KAR ) to Uganda. He took the job, to organize within 6 ? 9 months, the Uganda army for Independence which was due on 9th October 1962.. Uganda did not have an Army. They only had a regiment ( 4th Regiment of KAR ). They did not have a Ministry of Defence. So He had to organize and Head the Ministry of Defence in Uganda himself. So He did all that, under British Colonial adminstration . Colonel William (Shane ) who had served with his father in WW II in Burma became his Military Advisor. Before his coming He was serving as Chief of Staff in the British Protectorate of Uganda ( 4th regiment KAR ). There was no African He was dealing with. He was only dealing with Europeans. Everything was European in concept and so forth. That is why, He clashed with the British; and He was arrested on the 11th September 1962 judged at night and 12th September 1962 He was imprisoned for 7 years in Luzira maximum Prison ( next to the execution chamber Room 8 ). The reasons were all political in nature. The issue was: He was asked to sign that Lado should be passed into British Administration. He refused to sign it and for three weeks He was tortured in Luzira prison. In October, He organized with some of his soldiers ( 4th regiment KAR ) an Escape from the prison. That was in 1962. From then till now the present Leader of Lado is living in exile ( barring a brief period in 1971 from June to Nov and another period from January 1973 to April 1974 ). He is now in Exile for at least 40 years yet leading his people for the due independence for Lado .

By -


Member Institute of Sudanic Studies

LADO said...


Unknown said...

A good essay thank you so much

Unknown said...

This explanation about field Marshall president for life CBE OC is too good and in fact I have appreciated this work. Acleo makerere university Kampala Uganda 0708152871

Unknown said...

Agood essay help me to do my course work