The Police have commenced investigations in at least 15 ministries and government departments following reports of widespread fraud and corruption, The Observer has learnt. The Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) has been asked to investigate corruption in public expenditure, awarding of tenders, procurement and appointments.
Sources have told us that the CID has accordingly written to the affected permanent secretaries and accounting officers, demanding documents pertaining to accountability of funds, recruitment of staff, award of tenders, travel, workshop facilitation, medical allowances and other related expendables.
"We want accountability documents for the last three years from 2009-2012 of all these ministries. We are going to tackle all the ministries for misuse of public funds," confirmed Grace Akullo, the CID boss.
Although our sources indicate that some of the investigations have been prompted by the Auditor General's annual reports through which unanswered queries are often referred to the Police, Akullo said her directorate wanted to be pro-active.
"Let us not wait for the crimes to be committed," she said. "Let us attack the problem from the source."
Bank of Uganda is one of the targeted institutions. The central bank is under investigation over irregular payments of allowances, among other irregularities. Uganda Management Institute (UMI), on the other hand, has been asked to explain its unaccounted-for expenditures.
The ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is also facing questions about its procurement activities. The names of individuals being held to account, and the sums involved, have been withheld to avoid prejudicing the said investigations. Although some of the ministries facing investigation have, according to our sources, responded well, others, particularly the ministry of Health, which is incidentally facing the widest probe, together with the National Planning Authority, have been less than co-operative.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Health, Asumani Lukwago, for instance, is understood to have written to CID telling them to go and set up base in the ministry. This has left some in department feeling slighted, with one officer, wondering if Lukwago thought they did not "have other things to do."
Akullo confirmed that cooperation was not even, but said defiant officials would face arrest if they failed to provide the requested documents. We understand that a court order has been issued in respect of the National Planning Authority. And that an official working with the organisation was arrested early this week in connection with the CID investigation. Akullo appealed for information that might help the Police accomplish this task.
"We are requesting all the workers in these ministries and the authorities to provide us with any information they [have] in their organisations, in private, by either reporting to a police station or calling toll free lines such as 0800200199, 0800199199 and 0800199299," she said.
Our sources indicate that the Health ministry is under the spotlight with fraud reported in projects such as AIDS Control Programme, Child Health, Leprosy and TB Programme, Non-Communicable Diseases Programme, as well as the Malaria, TB and HIV Programme. The Police believe that an estimated Shs 8bn meant for these projects has been misappropriated. Our source further revealed that the National Drug Authority (NDA) board members are being held to account for irregular expenditure on various trips abroad.
"They are after getting allowances but not caring about their work," the source said. "How can a secretary inspect drugs?" The source added that the Police were also looking at irregular recruitment as most of the workers in authorities such as NDA didn't have proper documents to support their employment status.
The Police probe is being spearheaded by the Special Investigations Unit, recently formed by the Police Force upon the instructions from State House. The unit, which comprises four well trained Police officers, is the one to investigate corruption cases in various ministries and departments.
These ministries include Finance, Works and Transport, Health, Education and Sports, Trade and Industry, Tourism, Water and Environment, as well as East African Community Affairs. Others are: Local government, Ethics and Integrity, Lands and Urban Development, and Public Service. Besides Bank of Uganda, NDA, NPA and UMI, the Police team is also targeting NAADS and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, among other departments and authorities.