Ugandan presidential bodyguard returns after 50-year absence

The VIP protection officer during Milton Obote's era was thought dead.

In Summary

• Vincent Obodo, 81, who had once headed the VIP protection unit at the president's office, was reunited with his two wives and children on Friday.

• Obodo said he had been at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport awaiting Obote's return from Singapore when he learned of the coup.

Milton Obote, Uganda's first elected president, was exiled in Tanzania along with his head of security
Milton Obote, Uganda's first elected president, was exiled in Tanzania along with his head of security
Image: GETTY IMAGES

A former head of security for late Ugandan President Milton Obote, who was presumed dead, he has returned to home to Uganda after 50 years.

Vincent Obodo, 81, who had once headed the VIP protection unit at the president's office, was reunited with his two wives and children on Friday.

His relatives had not seen him since January 1971 - when Obote was overthrown in a coup led by Idi Amin.

Family and friends sobbed and cried with joy as Obodo was escorted home by staff from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the privately-owned Daily Monitor reports.

Obodo, who had been living in exile in neighbouring Tanzania for the last five decades, told the state-owned New Vision newspaper that he was happy to return.

Obote was overthrown by the army while on a visit to Singapore for a Commonwealth conference.

Obodo said he had been at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport awaiting Obote's return from Singapore when he learned of the coup.

Obote went into exile in Tanzania, which is how Obodo ended up there, remaining in the East Africa nation even when Obote regained power in 1980 - though he was overthrown again in 1985.

“Life in exile has been a thicket of thorns,” Obodo told the Daily Monitor.

His journey home had been made possible through the co-operation of both Uganda and Tanzania governments, UNHCR's Carol Kibuka Musoke told the paper.