22 December 2018

Uganda: Bigirimana - I Was Ignored On Corruption At Bank of Uganda

The permanent secretary of the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development Pius Bigirimana has said he warned the country about underhand dealings at Bank of Uganda several years back but he was ignored.

Bank of Uganda is currently under a parliamentary probe for the fraudulent closure and sale of seven commercial banks between 2003 and 2017 without following the due processes as highlighted by in the auditor general's report.

The parliamentary committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) chaired by Bugweri county MP Abdul Katuntu has been hearing mind boggling revelations about how BOU officials abused their powers to close banks some of whom were still economically sound.

"I whistle blew during the Office of Prime Minister scandal that there are thieves in the ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda but instead they called me a 'thief.' I told them that my signatures were forged; I tried to tell them that as the accounting officer, I had to first confirm any transactions before they are made but all this wasn't done." Bigirimana said while officiating at the launch of the Youth Justice Needs report at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday.

Bigirimana said the duty of fighting corruption should not be left to the president alone because its effects, affects the whole country. He added that wherever he has worked, he has been a champion of fighting stealing of government resources. Bigirmana also said that corruption is the biggest hindrance to access to justice not only for youths but for all vulnerable groups.

The report was done by Dr Christopher Mbazira a lecturer at Makerere University from 13 districts about justice needs and vulnerability of youths.

Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa the executive director of Legal Aid Service Providers Network [Laspnet] that sponsored the research said that the youth need to be given priority in administration of justice because they are the majority.

The report shows that 63 per cent of prisoners across the country are youth, many of whom were convicted or imprisoned wrongly for lack of proper representation thanks to the high costs of access to justice.

"Youths get involved in civil wrangles especially land as they cannot purchase it; even the one they have has been taken away," Namubiru said.

She added that youth also face labour problems at their workplaces like illegal terminations and sexual violence among others.

"The government should set up free legal aid services for the youths to easily access justice. Research has it that Uganda has 724 law firms but 636 out of these are in Kampala; this has therefore hindered access to justice among the youths," Namubiru said.

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