Uganda: MPs to Summon All Actors in Bou Saga

The parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) has said it will summon all officials involved in the alleged Bank of Uganda currency saga to explain their roles and what they know about the incident.

This followed officials from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) failing to respond to many questions put before them by Cosase members in relation to mishandling of the cargo plane which carried Bank of Uganda (BoU) currency and private cargo on the same flight.

They were appearing before the committee yesterday to answer some financial queries in the Auditor General's report.

Mr Ronald Barongo, the CAA director for Safety and Security, told Cosase that they received an application from an agent in Kenya to permit the chartered plane permission to land at Entebbe airport with printed material.

However, he said CAA was not aware of the extra cargo which was on the plane or what it contained.

"It's true that we received an application to allow in a flight with printed material belonging to BOU but we did not know about extra consignment since it was not included in the application," Mr Barongo said.

Mr Sooma Ayub, the director of Airport Security, said they did not check the cargo upon arrival since transfer of currency has a special arrangement which is usually left to BoU officials to handle.

He said all airports follow international regulations of checking passengers and screening their cargo to ensure that bad elements do not enter the country.

Mr Ayub, however, said the BoU cargo was not screened because it was a special consignment and thus they cannot tell what was inside.

"The currency cargo has its special arrangement which starts and ends in Bank of Uganda. This particular cargo has special escorts who go straight to the airport with their bullion van to pick the money, so we had less involvement in this," Mr Ayub said.

Mr Ibrahim Kasozi, the deputy chairperson of Cosase, questioned CAA officials as to whether the country is safe given the fact that some commodities can easily enter the country unscreened under the name of Bank of Uganda.

He said wrong people might exploit the situation and use BoU name to sneak into the country drugs, bombs and other dangerous materials.

However, Dr David Kakuba, the CAA managing director, said they are not the only agency involved in clearing goods and passengers at the airport.

He said there is also Uganda Revenue Authority customs officials who clear certain cargo.

Mr Kasozi said he would summon officials from URA,CAA and BoU to explain the saga.

Last week, State House Anti-corruption Unit and police arrested several senior BoU officials and officials from the Customs Department, airport police officers and CAA staff after a chartered plane carrying Uganda currency also had other private cargo.

Some of the agencies have since denied having had any consignment on the UK plane.

The arrests followed the central bank Governor, Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile's, petition to the President to intervene in the matter.

Background

It had been alleged that there was five extra boxes of printed currency on the same plane. BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile wrote to State House on June 2. However, government has denied the claim of extra printed currency.

The chartered UK-based KUEHNE +NAGEL cargo plane delivered the consignment of Uganda currency at Entebbe on April 27. Police and State House Anticorruption Unit are carrying out a joint investigation into the incident.

The incident has since become complex with each government agency telling a contradicting version of what is under investigation.

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