- Museveni had resorted to shedding hot tears as Oyite Ojok hovered over their bush hideout, vowing to kill all of them
Maj. Gen Oyite Ojok’s death from bombing inside a military chopper, remains one of such many unresolved mysteries since Uganda attained independence. One of the highly trained military generals the country has ever produced, Ojok died on a mission to ‘finish off’ the rebels led by Yoweri Museveni whose major hideouts were in Luweero.
As fate would have it, Ojok literally ended up fatally in the trap he had laid for Museveni and his ragtag rebel outfit. Severino Kahinda-Otafiire, who was one of Museveni’s rebels, has since revealed how Museveni, leaning onto a tree, had resigned and burst into terrible tears as Ojok was air-bound busily and continuously shelling the rebel hideouts.
God works in mysterious ways! Amid such desperation, the chopper carrying the fearless Ojok would end up catching fire. It then started to helplessly tumble. As Ojok and his crew tried to fight for prized life. Ojok’s surprising death marked the biggest turning point in the war Museveni had launched against the government of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote. Such was the brevity and expertise of Ojok in military warfare that the moment he went down in that accident, Museveni and his rebels started to enjoy an upper hand in their war.
A story is told of how Obote, on hearing the news of the death of his finest soldier, broke down and inconsolably wept like a baby. “…. Oh, dear…. I am finished…. Muchebeni has finished me,” a tearful Obote grieved. Meanwhile, as Obote cursed and cried, the mood in Luweero was a mixture of apprehension as well as joy. Not even Museveni and majority of his generals, let alone the locals, could bring themselves to believe that the fearless Ojok had finally met his demise and in such a dramatic fashion.
Much as Obote and his other top bureaucrats were now in a somber mood, insiders tell us, how a top-tier officer of the government was suspiciously not showing much concern over the bereavement. His name was Paulo Muwanga, Obote’s deputy then. A senior military officer at the time of the accident, revealed to us, how days after the chopper had gone down, rumor started circulating in high offices suggesting how Muwanga had organized the bombing of Ojok’s ill-fated chopper in order to get rid of him.
The mixed speculation:
The rumor had it that Muwanga used a Muganda soldier to plant a bomb on the chopper carrying Ojok before it took off from Nile Mansions in Kampala. We have the names of the suspected soldier. However, conspiracy also abound about how Ojok himself let off the bomb which took his life and that of the members of his crew. This after the pilot of the chopper allegedly started to suspiciously take the direction which they had not planned to take. Ojok is thought to have, at this juncture, issued angry orders to the pilot to revert to the routes they were supposed to take. But the pilot allegedly refused to budge and continued in opposite directions.
Sensing danger, the lion-hearted Ojok is said to have warned about how he was going to kill everyone and himself if the pilot didn’t stop the suspicious games that were afoot. Still, the pilot didn’t give heed. A fight is reported to have ensued aboard the flight with Ojok trying to force the pilot to change course, but the pilot refused. Finally, Ojok ignited the bomb which killed him and his crew.
But according to the other soldier, Muwanga by the time of the accident, had been for months covertly working with the disgruntled high ranking Acholi military officers. These soldiers were allegedly accusing Obote of using Ojok to suffocate them as well as accusing Obote of putting Ojok in charge of everything. Muwanga, suspecting that the Acholi’s anger was going to boil over one day, prompting them to conspire to remove the Langi from state power, purportedly started to think of seriously getting in bed with them.
This is how, the other former soldier tells us, the calculative Muwanga decided to jump in bed with the Acholi looking to fall in things as well as cover his back and wealth in the event of them taking state power. The Acholi were also living on edge, as per this soldier, since the wananchi were looking at them as killers yet it was their Langi colleagues who were supposedly causing mayhem but without being reined in by either Obote or his army commander, Oyite Ojok who were also Acholi.
The rumor would gain more currency with Muwanga suspiciously talking about the uncoordinated movement of soldiers. This was at the time Gen Tito Okello Lutwa and Gen Bazilio Olalla Okello, had decided to ran from Kampala to Gulu where they launched a rebellion that ended up with the overthrow of Obote in 1985. The two mutinying generals started the war from Gulu because it was their birthplace from which they naturally expected much support. Upon seizing power, the generals, who had reportedly made contact with Museveni in Luweero and informed him about their war, started to contact Museveni to leave for Kampala to form a government of national unity.
But Museveni remained put in Luweero and even went on fighting them. This unsettled the new leaders in town seeing that their nascent government was now in danger of fighting the soldiers of Obote and those of Museveni. Museveni would later engage the Lutwas in what would later turn out to be a mockery of peace-talks to give Kaguta time to organize and finally kick out of town, their junta. Museveni and his rebels would later on in January, 1986, fight their way into Kampala to a thunderous jubilation with the people equating the uprooted Lutwa and Okello to the Obote’s who they had overthrown.
Ojok`s Last Moments at Nile Mansion
Before us is a book written by an eyewitness at Nile Mansion. In his book titled; “Trapped in his own Prison of Nile Mansions for 5 Years”, Rutarindwa Mwene Barizeni, 70, tells of a story how Obote, for the entire five years of his second reign, stayed put at Nile Mansion which, his blue-eyed boy Oyite Ojok had curved out for him. This was probably for fear of being thrown out of power and possibly killed by people he had imposed himself on. According to the author, this was to hoodwink all those who would have had intentions of killing him, never to believe that he would ever live in a death center.
In this book now out in bookshops, Rutarindwa recounts the events that took place on 26th November 1983 at Nile Mansions before Ojok boarded the killer chopper and after his death. On this morning, “two Augusta helicopters landed at the Nile Mansions, one at the helicopter pad down the Hotel compound and another, directly in the compound at the fore front of the hotel. They had come to take UNLA top military commanders, including the Army Chief of Staff, Major Gen. Oyite Ojok to Luweero District where, the rebels of former defense minister were relentlessly harassing government forces.
Obote had vowed to crush the rebels, kill their leader Museveni and leave his body to rot in Luweero bushes. His vow was a result of Museveni himself warning of a `People`s Tornado` that would blow off power, whoever would inherit Amini`s chair fraudulently, however long it would take, he had vowed, the winner was to emerge. Back to Ojok`s fatal flight. On this morning, the two helicopters were going to the field for the second time, the first one having been the previous day.
In the helicopter that was down at the pad, hotel staff loaded, as pre-night arrangement, two crates of beer, two crates of soda, two large pans – one with beef stew and another with boiled rice. The second helicopter would carry the commanders. After a comprehensive study of the map along the covered walkway bridge that connects the International Conference Center to the Nile Mansions, the commanders boarded the helicopter and took off. The other followed and they both headed in the northern direction of Kampala. To be continued…
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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