Ocen says on a day he can’t recall, he and more than 25 other people lured for the job embarked on a journey from Kampala at 10am in a bus to Kasese Town and later crossed into DRC through Bwera Border post.
In March last year,
Patrick Ocen then aged 19, allegedly under the influence of alcohol beat up an
elderly woman to coma before raping her in Akilok South Village in Okuti Parish
in Orom Sub-County in Kitgum District.
Fearing the consequences of his action, Ocen reportedly fled to his uncle’s
residency, a short distance from their home where he hid for three weeks before
traveling to Kitgum Municipality.
He would later take on another journey to Kampala City that would see him get
lured into joining the Allied Democratic Forces [ADF], a rebel outfit operating
in the Jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC].
After a year and half being away from home, Ocen sneaked back to his home
village in Akilok South recently where he got arrested by security some four
Ocen, the last born in a family of four spoke to URN in an interview on the journey
that led him into the hands of one of the most feared rebel groups in East
Now 20 years-old, Ocen says after escaping from his home village last year, he
traveled to Owino Market in Kampala where he teamed up with another colleague
to work as casual laborers loading boxes of tomatoes in trucks.
According to Ocen, while working in Owino Market, they were approached by some
men whose identity he can’t recall with an exciting offer of a well-paying job
in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC].
“Some people came to us and told us there is a good job in DRC. Six of my
colleagues whom we used to work with refused the job but I and another
colleague accepted to go,” he said.
Ocen says on a day he
can’t recall, he and more than 25 other people lured for the job embarked on a
journey from Kampala at 10am in a bus to Kasese Town and later crossed into
DRC through Bwera Border post.
He says although he didn’t possess any valid travel document, he was able to
pass successfully through the border post until their final destination into a
jungle at about 5:30 pm, where he later learnt was an ADF rebel camp.
// Cue in; “Nongo wa yweko……….
Cue out………….camo dek dong” //
According to Ocen, after recuperating from the long journey, they were handed
guns the next day without any basic training on weapon handling and told to use
it for toppling Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame.
He says their base was in a jungle in Kisangani Tshopo’s Province and often
they would be sent to neighboring Rwanda to loot food and abduct new fighters.
Ocen says he only participated in raids in Rwanda three times because he feared
the heavy gunfire exchanges that usually left many of his colleagues dead.
“Our commanders always sent us to raid foodstuff in Rwanda. But the government
troops are good shooters sometimes 15 of my colleagues ended up dead in such
raids. I avoided such raids, whenever I was sent and sneaked back to the base,”
Ocen says their
commanders avoided raids in Ugandan territory, saying Uganda People’s Defense
[UPDF] soldiers are brave fighters and have gunship helicopters.
After months of
fighting in the jungle, Ocen says he was rewarded with US$400 while his other
colleagues received between US$ 600 to 900 depending on their duration in the
He however says after realizing the job wasn’t paying as promised, he and a
friend decided to escape in January this year but were intercepted by Congolese
government troops who took their money before handing them over to Ugandan
authorities in Kasese district.
Ocen claims he was interrogated and tortured for two months [between January
and March] by security personnel at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence
[CMI] and later detained at the Police Special Investigation Unit in Kireka
before being released this month.
They were handed Shillings 40,000 for
transport to Kitgum District, according to Ocen.
// Cue in; “Wan wabedo i………
Cue out…..….cente opoki wa”//
Brig Richard Kareimere, the UPDF Spokesperson confirmed to URN that Ocen was
indeed interrogated and was released on police bond.
“It’s true Patrick Ocen was released on Police Bond,” Brig Kareimere stated in
a phone message this morning. He didn't divulge details of his release.
He however wondered why he was rearrested by security in Kitgum District.
Robert Ogen, the Officer in charge of Criminal Investigation at Kitgum Central
Police station, says they are holding the suspect pending further
He says the suspect was arrested on orders of Kitgum Resident District
Commissioner, William Komakech in connection to an earlier rape case he
committed and another related to his involvement in ADF rebel activities.
In April this year, eight children from Purongo Sub-county in Nwoya District
were rescued by CMI operatives in Kasese District while being ferried to
suspected ADF camps in DRC.
In Lamwo District, several youth were lured into
rebel activities in neighboring South Sudan with promises of getting jobs in
the United Nations Mission in South Sudan-UNMISS.