President Yoweri Museveni has set up a special unit within State House to fight corruption in the National Agricultural Advisory Services programme.
The 'Naads Monitoring Unit' is headed by the special presidential assistant, Rev Sister Mary Grace Akiror. According to a State House Statement, the unit has scored its first goal - by recovering Shs 20m from Amuru district officials. Akiror told The Observer on Thursday that the unit was created towards the end of last year.
"Our mandate is to monitor the programme and rid it of corruption" Akiror said. Another member of the unit is former Amuria district Woman MP, Rhoda Achen.
They are supposed to traverse the country to monitor Naads activities. This will include visiting farmers in their different groups, before meeting district and sub-county officials.
"The Naads coordinator for Amuru confessed that he had used part of the money for personal gain," Akiror said of the recovery, which came after her team received complaints about allegations of theft and missing Naads funds.
"The officials implicated were found guilty and given a time frame within which to pay back the money. Stanbic Bank, Gulu branch, statements were availed, indicating the recovery of the over Shs 20m," Akiror said. The money has been deposited on the special account for recovered Naads funds.
Akiror now wants the Amuru Chief Administrative Officer and the District Service Commission to take disciplinary measures against the officials who had embezzled the public funds.
"Returning the money is not enough; they [should] also be disciplined," she said.
Akiror has given other officials of the district, especially at sub-county level, only one month to return all Naads funds that have not been accounted for. She says an exercise to recover unaccounted for and embezzled Naads funds will be carried out throughout the country. Still, Akiror complained that the team is too small and, with only one vehicle, it has yet to traverse the entire country.