26 January 2013

Uganda: Jim Muhwezi Refutes Claims He Took Sh210 Million

Former health minister Gen. Jim Muhwezi has refuted accusations attributed to his jailed junior colleague Mike Mukula that he was the one who took the sh210 million

funds for immunisation.

Mukula, who was convicted for embezzlement, was quoted by the press on Thursday, saying he was in prison paying for a crime committed by Muhwezi.

"I do not believe what the Red Pepper is attributing to Mukula is true. It is not true that I received the money. There is evidence adduced in court, supported by documents, which shows the movement of that money.

"If you look at them, you can clearly see who received the money and how it was returned to Bank of Uganda," Muhwezi said.

He said he was acquitted after evidence showed that he did not authorise the release of the funds or receive it.

The former health minister said what was published in the media was deliberate and intended to tarnish his name, even when court had pronounced him innocent.

The statements with the IGG indicated that Mukula said: "I received the money in three batches of sh53,890,000, sh73,146,000 and sh136,890,000 for the First Lady's advocacy conferences in Luwero, Mbale and Gulu respectively."

Mukula further stated: "However, the activities in Mbale and Gulu did not take place because accountability for the first public funds released had not been submitted for the conference in Kabale.

"I, therefore, did not advance more funds to the organisers of the conferences. So, I decided to refund the funds to the accounting officer, ministry of health, amounting to sh210m on 28/10/2005."

Asked about his May 14, 2005 note to Margaret Lalamu of the office of the First Lady, regarding the sh54m, Muhwezi said that money did not even come to his office.

"The officers at the ministry told me I was supposed to dispatch the money as the minister, so I wrote the note. The note was given to the person who was to deliver the money to the First Lady's Office, but I did not touch the money," Muhwezi said.

Last year, the magistrate ruled that while the Permanent Secretary and other witnesses absolved the ministers of playing a part in instructing him to authorise payments, they never absolved any who received the money from making accountability.

She said there was evidence that shows Mukula received and signed for the said monies and only returned it when the IGG started investigating.

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