News and Views
Uganda: Millionaire office attendant spills OPM cash secrets
I was under instructions from Kazinda – Lubega
For the first time, an incredibly rich office attendant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has shed some light on how he could have made his money.
Speaking to The Observer today, Kennedy Lubega revealed how he occasionally withdrew hundreds of millions of shillings on behalf of interdicted former Principal Accountant Geoffrey Kazinda.
Lubega is said to have pocketed Shs 5bn, money meant for the reconstruction of northern Uganda. Lubega, who was questioned by the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate personnel in Kampala, said Kazinda instructed him to pick hundreds of millions of shillings from Isaiah Oonyu (a cashier in OPM) to run the office.
“Kazinda gave me extra duties to receive cash on his behalf whenever the cashier would go to Bank of Uganda to withdraw money. I would go to the safe in the cashier’s office and get the money, which I would then distribute to staff,” a visibly timid Lubega explained.
Lubega, who reportedly joined the OPM in 2009, said he started performing the “extra duties” in 2011. These duties included requisitions deemed urgent by Kazinda.
“Sometimes I would hand the money to him. Other times I would pay out the money,” Lubega said.
As an office attendant, Lubega said his official duties included receiving and dispatching mail within the accounts section, as well as photocopying documents. And for that, his monthly salary was Shs 180, 000. The police on Wednesday obtained a cash book in which Lubega noted down the amounts he gave out to the OPM staff.
In the book, which was opened on October 3, 2011, the major recipients appear to be Kazinda, a one Faizal, Dennis Oyuki (Kazinda’s driver), a one Ben Kumumanya and Lubega himself. For his efforts, Lubega awarded himself a Shs 100,000 daily. However, he was unable to explain what the money was meant for.
On any given day, Lubega said he received in excess of Shs 50m from the cashier’s safe, which he would then distribute to various individuals within the office. For instance on October 30, 2011, he gave Kazinda Shs 30m, Shs15m, Shs 1.9m and Shs 200,000 for lunch. On October 13, 2011, he gave Kazinda Shs 3.6m, Shs 2m and Shs 4m. On November 13, 2011 he gave Kazinda Shs 1m (home), Faizal Shs 2.6m and Oyuki Shs 70m (home).
He explained that by ‘home’ he meant money Kazinda brought from his home to help run the OPM.
“Sometimes he would lend the office money when the EFTs took long. He would come with money from his home. When the OPM received money, I would reimburse him and that is why I wrote against those figures ‘home’ so that I couldn’t forget. Sometimes, I would give the money to his driver [Oyuki] to take to him”, Lubega explained.
A look at the cash book shows that home reimbursements were daily. On January 5, 2012, Lubega received Shs 74m of which Shs 70m was given to Oyuki as Kazinda’s reimbursement. On August 9, 2011 Lubega received Shs 88m of which Shs 52m was given to Faizal and Shs 10m was Kazinda’s reimbursement.
Other reimbursements came on July 7, 2011; Shs 18m for Lubega, with Faizal receiving Shs 40m and Shs 2m, on November 30 2011, $10,313 (Shs 2.5m) and $30,000 (Shs 80m) while Faizal received Shs 25m, November 22, 2011, Kazinda was reimbursed Shs 25m, given a Shs 1m allowance for lunch and his driver Shs 2m the day before, Kazinda had been reimbursed Shs 3m twice.
Kumumanya, another prominent recipient is said to have received millions of shillings on an almost daily basis. In five days he is recorded to have received Shs 27m. There is no explanation as to why Kamumanya continued receiving money from the OPM.
In another book, Lubega is recorded to have received Shs 94m, Shs 17m, Shs 3m and Shs 7.8m on October, 7 2011.
He also received Shs 98m, Shs 3m, Shs 84m and $17,000 (Shs 45m). Another page in the book lists him to have received money 10 times in a single day, with the monies reaching Shs 423m and $40, 000 (Shs 106 billion). On December 30, 2011, Lubega received Shs 51m while Faizal received Shs 123m. Kazinda received Shs 3m while Oonyu received Shs 171m.
The day before, Lubega received Shs 155m, Faizal Shs 10m while Kazinda received Shs 31m.
The biggest amount of money Lubega is recorded to have received was Shs 1.12 billion and $42,800 (Shs 114m) on Friday December 23, 2011. That day, Faizal signed for Shs 881m. On Thursday, December 22, 2011 Lubega received Shs 42m and $4,000 while Faizal received Shs 79.8m.
The police today said they are hunting for Faizal whose second name is still unknown. According to Lubega, he worked as an intern at the OPM for more than three years.
“He had an office in the Accounts Section. I don’t know what he was doing exactly, but he used to receive money, as you can see in the cash book,” Lubega said. On October 6, 2011 Faizal received Shs 25m but there is no explanation what the money was for.
On November 30, 2011 he received Shs 25m and a further Shs 10m on October 19, 2011. On other days, Lubega would receive tens of millions from Faizal. For instance on December 12, 2011 Lubega received three tranches of Shs 55m, Shs 20m and Shs 35m, all from Faizal.
“I don’t know what the money was for. I was instructed to pay him. I didn’t know what his duties were but I was told he was an intern. When the news of the scandal broke, he disappeared. No one knows where he is,” Lubega said.
Meanwhile the CIID has asked the prisons authorities to avail Kazinda to explain the hundreds of millions released and recorded in the cash book. Kazinda is currently in Luzira on remand until January 2013 when he will appear in court where he is facing 50 accounts ranging from forgery, conspiracy to commit a felony, among others.