By Mulengera Reporters
Afande Edith Nakalema’s State House anti-corruption unit continues moving mountains with Mzee Med Kaggwa’s Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) being the latest victim.
In what many see as a very indicting vote of no confidence in the leadership of veteran Med Kaggwa (who was reported to in advance but didn’t act), Nakalema has already had her teams lay siege at Twed Building-based UHRC headquarters where loads of documents have been extracted to aid investigations into fraudulent transactions stretching into billions.
The monies stolen are mostly from donor-funded projects aimed at supporting UHRC tribunal hearings and civic education processes. The key donors here are JLOS, EU’s DGF and German government’s GiZ.
One of the shocking scandals that Nakalema’s operatives and those from CIID Kibuli are investigating occurred in December last year when Shs150m was dubiously withdrawn from the JLOS-funded activities and wired on individual officers’ bank accounts, a practice that was long prohibited.
Sources close to the investigations say that on one occasion, officials from the UHRC’ Finance department in Kampala wired Shs30m to a manager in Jinja branch and told her to help them withdraw it urgently and send back to them Shs25m in Kampala “and the balance of Shs5m is for Christmas.” Fake accountability was later given claiming the money was spent on emergency civic education activities done during the Christmas recess.
Many more upcountry office managers had the same experience until up to Shs500m was shared out. It’s this that a whistle blower brought to the attention of top management at UHRC but no action was taken because hard evidence was hard to come by.
Sources say the inaction wasn’t that Kaggwa desired to protect wrongdoers. No. It was because even the 5 Commissioners at UHRC were sharply divided on how to proceed on the matter. Some two Commissioners were very protective and vetoed all efforts for action to be taken fearing it would portray Accounting Officer Patrick M Nyakana as inept being the overall signatory on all the UHRC’ finances.
Eventually the very frustrated whistle blower (working within the Finance department) was left with no option but to report to IGG and Col Nakalema whose teams immediately raided UHRC and laid a siege for an entire afternoon. The wrongdoers thought they had captured everyone at the office of the IGG and never expected action but Nakalema took them by surprise.
As investigations deepened, a number of officials were zeroed in upon including the stinking rich Wilfred Asiimwe Muganga and Jinja regional office Manager Nassuna. There is also Agire Mbabazi of the Jinja regional office. The trio is out on Police bond issued for them by CIID authorities in Kibuli. Patrick Nyakana, being the accounting officer, couldn’t survive because of his supervisory role over the entire Finance & Administration aspects of the Commission.
The accounting officer has continually been asked to explain the circumstances under which blank requisition forms came to have his signature permitting thieving officers to put any random figure they felt like.
There are fears that because of absence of strong controls and oversight being exercised by the current leadership at JLOS, the fraud might only escalate prompting donors to close taps like they did years ago to protest the Kazinda scandal at OPM. Patrick Nyakana’s explanation has been that he was misled being a new accounting officer without any prior experience.
Nyakana got the job after a very competitive recruitment exercise in which he beat a few others including Local Government Ministry’s seasoned Genda Walala. Investigators are wondering why the Kaggwa-led UHRC top management went ahead with the recruitment even after getting not very flattering reports from Uganda Law Reform Commission where Patrick Nyakana had previously worked.
Sources say that ill-fated Nassuna even wet her pants as the CIID operatives raided her Jinja office and started asking her about things she considered a closed chapter since the now impugned transfers of cash had occurred in December making it now almost 6 months.
Lack of prior experience in the accounting officer position is what UHRC Commissioners like Victoria Rusoke and Dr. Amooti are relying on to plead clemency for the embattled Patrick M Nyakana, leaving Chairman Med Kaggwa in an awkward situation and unable to make a decision because his own Commissioners are split right in the middle.
Some keen UHRC watchers say that Kaggwa’s busy schedule, which requires him to be on the plane most of the time, is part of the reason why the CIID investigators are looking at the extent to which inadequate supervision of the technical wing at UHRC could have led to the current anxiety.
Some are beginning to demand that the likes of Nyakana and much-loathed Asiimwe step aside for others to take their positions. Investigators are wondering how Asiimwe, who is Director for Regional Services, got to be involved into Tribunal & Civic Education-related expenditures towards Christmas time. That there has been a lot of double accounting at UHRC (whatever that means).
MARGARET SEKAGYA TRIED
Sources in the donor community recall that similar crises ever arose at UHRC in the past but there was no escalation because Kaggwa’s predecessor Maggie Sekagya acted firmly and very decisively on the wrongdoers without any possibility of being successfully blackmailed.
There is also possibility of old score-settling especially in the case of Asiimwe who has always been a controversial figure at UHRC. Some in 2016, a Kampala tabloid newspaper carried a report that profiled his controversial career at UHRC including insisting on the rapid promotion of a one Evelyn Arinaitwe (a wealthy babe living in Gayaza) who initially worked under him as a typist at the Central region office in Ntinda. Arinaitwe’s accelerated promotion to the position of Administrative Assistant wa seen as victimizing some lawyers at UHRC including Alexandria Kirunda and Betty Enangu who were more senior and had the relevant experience of being lawyers unlike Asiimwe-backed Arinaitwe who just had just accomplished a SWASA degree from Ndejje.