The former director of the much-feared State Research Bureau (SRB) Rtd Lt. Col. Francis Itabuka, says he opted not to claim his gratuity from the ministry of Defense due to negative media publicity.
According to Itabuka, the media has labelled the Idi Amin government as 'a military regime' and attributed several atrocities to all officers who served under the regime. He says such sentiments have deprived capable veterans of enjoying their benefits like gratuity due to fear of public opinion.
Itabuka stresses that due to the inability of those who served under Amin to explain themselves at the local and international levels; it would generate mixed reactions once the media highlights the gratuity given to a former senior military officer like him. Although he admits that some atrocities were committed by the Amin regime, he says many have been overly exaggerated and some concocted so as to deliberately create a negative image around Amin and his government.
Itabuka says the persistent negative coverage against Amin’s regime since the late 1980s to date indicates that the current government and the entire public doesn’t trust military officers who served under the regime. Itabuka reveals that some government officials tried to convince him to claim for his gratuity and tasked him to become a National Resistance Movement (NRM) mobilizer, a request he flatly rejected.
"When it comes to money they want me to go with identity and what note. Does it mean that they do not know me? These are conditions or preconditions - before you do this, you must do that. I don’t entertain such, I will survive. Me, I am a commando." said Itabuka.
Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson for Jinja zone, George Musinguzi said that all retired military officers are entitled to their gratuity irrespective of the circumstances.
“Just like other retired military officers from all other regimes after independence, Itabuka is entitled to gratuity, but we cannot force him to take if he doesn’t want to,” he said.
He served as the director of the State Research Bureau from August 1974 to February 1977.
After the collapse of Idi Amin in April 1979, Itabuka appeared before the Uganda Human Rights Commission chaired by the current vice president, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi on May 11, 1987.
He was found innocent on all counts of human rights violations levelled against him and was left to live as a free man. Itabuka leads a quiet life on his 40-acre farmland in Itonko village in Namutumba town council.