21 February 2019

Uganda: Arua Officials Charged Over Corruption

Kampala — Two senior officials of Arua Municipal Council, who are accused of abusing their offices, leading to diversion of more than Shs400m have been granted cash bail of Shs35m each.

The Kololo based Anti-Corruption Court before Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende also ordered Mr Jamirlu Kasajja Kairu and Mr Rajab Kamil Erejo to deposit their passports in court in order to have their travels regulated.

"I agree with the submissions of counsel (for the accused) that the charges are bailable and the sureties presented are substantial. I also agree with the state on no objection to bail and the prayer for stringent bail terms," held Mr Nabende who bonded the five sureties at a non-cash fee of Shs500m each.

Mr Nabende adjourned the case to March 7 this year for mention upon the state submission that investigations were still ongoing.

Mr Kairu, the former Town Clerk of Arua Municipal Council, now serving in Kapchorwa Municipality and Arua Principal Treasurer, Mr Erejo, were yesterday arraigned before court a week after their arrest.

The suspects, who were driven to court in handcuffs, denied charges of alleged abuse of office, diversion of public resources and conspiracy to defraud.

The state alleges that during the financial year 2017/2018 at Arua Municipality in Arua District, in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, Mr Kairu and Mr Erejo did an arbitrary act prejudicial to the interest of their employer when they processed and converted Shs436,477,000 meant for road works to pay individual officers' allowances.

It is alleged that the two suspects who were arrested on Wednesday last week, conspired to divert the said money.

The arrest

The Anti-Corruption Unit at State House headed by Lt Col Edith Nakalema arrested the duo during a fact-finding mission to Arua Municipality in the West Nile Sub-region following reports of misappropriation of road funds by the officials.

According to a State House statement issued on Friday last week, the State House team discovered that more than Shs400m that was meant for the construction of the Mango, Staff Lane and Afra roads' network had been diverted for other activities in the municipality.

Tasked to explain, Mr Erejo said he diverted the funds while anticipating its recovery from other municipality revenue collections - something that never happened.

Where the money was injected

Mr Kamil revealed that the diverted money had been used for emoluments of councillors and other miscellaneous expenses.

Arua Municipality Mayor, Mr Kato Isa Afeku, denied having authorised the diversion of the funds by the Council.

Upon visiting the roads in dispute, Lt Col Nakalema discovered that work had started on Mango Road where the first layer of bitumen was spread but due to the delay of funds, the layer had started peeling off necessitating a fresh spread, leading to financial loss to government.

On Staff Road, materials that included sand, culverts and hard core, had been purchased but work did not commence due to lack of funds while Afra Road bore signs of shoddy work.

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