18 July 2012

Uganda: IGG, Police Probe Mbale Officials

District officials here are spending sleepless nights after the local government minister asked the Inspectorate of Government to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against them.

The allegations are contained in a probe report released last November, a copy of which got to minister Adolf Mwesige. The probe committee, chaired by Sam Wojega, was set up by the district council to look into Mbale's administrative and financial constraints.

"Although the probe committee had no basis, it came up with findings which point to irregularities in the district. I am accordingly referring the report to your office as it may inform your investigations into the administrative and financial issues in Mbale district," Mwesige said in his March 20 letter to the IG.

The inspectorate has since engaged the special investigations unit (SIU) of police to verify the validity of the probe findings. By last Friday five members of the probe committee had been interrogated. Enyanga Atero, SIU's lead investigator on the case, told The Observer that his team was interested in fraud, while the administrative issues would be handled by the inspectorate itself.

He, however, revealed that some officials implicated by the probe report had not cooperated, refusing to appear before the team when summoned. This has left the SIU team suspecting that the allegations in the report may have some basis.

"I am worried we shall have to summon some of these officials to SIU headquarters in Kireka because we have been here for a week now but they have not cooperated to provide the information we want to verify the probe findings. Most of their offices have remained closed and their cell phones switched off," said Enyanga.

Among other things, the SIU wants to know how a hatchery procured under the NAADS programme and meant to boost youths financially ended up in the hands of Dina Mujasi, the wife to the district chairman. Other implicated officials are said to have been awarded contracts to provide services to the district, which would be contrary to the leadership code.

There are also queries regarding a financial loss of about Shs 129m, accruing from sub-leasing of district land to Mt Elgon hospital, Kampala modernity Ltd, One City Company and Busoba Starch. But District Chairman Bernard Mujasi insisted the probe committee report was baseless.

"I believe we shall come out clean as we have no wrongdoing whatsoever," Mujasi told The Observer last week. "Most of [the members of the probe committee] are angry that I did not choose them to executive positions and they have decided to antagonize my administration," he said.

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