CorruptionUganda: Police uncover new Shs60b scam at Office of the Prime Minister
Source: The Monitor. A new round of investigations has unearthed another huge scam in which about Shs60 billion is believed to have been misappropriated in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
Several senior officials from OPM have been interrogated and face prosecution after completion of the investigations.
The director of the police Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID), Ms Grace Akullo, confirmed the development and said their preliminary findings indicate that more than Shs62 billion, which was part of the allocation for war veterans and victims under the Luweero-Rwenzori Development Programme, was stolen or abused.
About Shs2 billion was for administration and supervision of the programme and was to benefit at least 8,000 registered civilians and ex-service men and women between 2010 and 2011.
The money was meant for rehabilitation of the Luweero-Rwenzori region under the President’s Affirmative Recovery Support for War and Conflict-affected Regions under the OPM.
The Luweero Triangle was affected by the National Resistance Army war that brought President Museveni to power while the Rwenzori region was hit by the rebellion of the Allied Democratic Forces from 1997 up to about 2003.
“We are investigating a number of irregularities in the programme as part of the wider OPM investigations,” Ms Akullo said.
She said several senior officials in OPM had been interrogated and case files had already been opened.
Nine officials from both the OPM and ministry of Finance’s internal audit department, have been interrogated in this latest inquiry.
They include: Ms Flavia Waduwa, former undersecretary in OPM, who also headed the programme; undersecretary in-charge of development, Mr Ben Kumumanya; the undersecretary in-charge of finance and administration, Mr Godfrey Kayima; the acting assistant commissioner for programmes, Mr Norbert Kasirabo; senior assistant secretary in-charge of monitoring and evaluation; Ms Christine Kiwanuka, the personal assistant to Minister of State for Luweero Triangle; and Ms Diana Kabagambe, the assistant secretary in-charge of the programme.
Those from the Ministry of Finance include: Ms Alice Nanyoka, Ms Rose Apio and Mr Francis Ochieng, all internal auditors who were in-charge of auditing the Luweero-Rwenzori programme activities.
Police are preparing to interrogate two former ministers: Mr Nyombi Tembo and Ms Rose Namayanja who were in-charge of the Luweero Triangle docket between 2010 and 2012.
According to the statements, the police recorded from both the civilian and army veterans in Luweero and Rwenzori, only a handful of the registered 8,000 beneficiaries received their payment.
Police investigations show that although Shs60b was earmarked to reward the veterans, in one case in a sub-county of 800 targeted civilian and army veterans, only 30 received payment with some getting Shs5m while others received Shs1.5m only.
The Luweero-Rwenzori Development Programme was a presidential initiative arising from complaints from civilians who provided food, shelter and information to the NRA rebels in the bush and army veterans (retired former fighters in the NRA’s 1981-86 bush war) as well as the victims of the ADF war in Rwenzori region.
Under the programme, districts were given grants for social services development and cash compensation to appreciate efforts of individuals who made valuable contribution to the wars.
Police are also investigating the utilisation of the district grants.
Some of the officials under investigation
A CIID officer, privy to the investigations, told the Saturday Monitor that Shs1.7 billion meant for supervision of projects in the Luweero-Rwenzori regions was deposited on Mr Kayima’s personal account on different occasions between 2010 and 2012.
Police records indicate that although Mr Kayima told detectives that he used the money for the intended official work, there is no evidence in bank records to show that the money was withdrawn from his account. According to Mr Kayima’s information to the police, he used the money to hold workshops in Fort Portal, Ridar Hotel in Seeta-Mukono and Serena Hotel in Kampala, among others. However, police investigations show that when contacted, owners of the said hotels denied hosting such workshops.
Ms Christine Kiwanuka
As a personal assistant to the minister of State for Luweero, Ms Kiwanuka was in-charge of requisitioning money for the minister’s activities. CIID records show that Shs800m was requisitioned and deposited on her personal account. The money was to facilitate the minister to visit the 33 districts in the Luweero and Rwenzori regions to sensitise and mobilise the beneficiaries .However, the veterans who recorded statements at police say they had never seen the minister in their areas. The available evidence with police shows the minister only visited Mpigi, Ngoma and Mubende districts.
Ms Flavia Waduwa
A former undersecretary in the OPM, who also headed the programme, has been interrogated.
She was the assistant secretary in-charge of the programme. She requisitioned Shs56 million to supervise the programme projects but has not given the investigators proof that she did. The money appears to have been a duplicated expenditure since Mr Kasirabo, who was in-charge of Monitoring and Evaluation, had also been funded to monitor the same projects.
Ms Alice Nanyoka, Ms Rose Apio and Mr Francis Ochieng, all from the ministry of Finance failed to give the police quarterly audit reports for the programme. Detectives are thus investigating possible negligence.