Police in Kole District have asked the Akalo Sub-county chairperson, Mr John Oculi, to identify individuals accused of mismanaging the ongoing livestock restocking programme so that they can be prosecuted.
This was after the Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition, a civil society organisation that fights corruption in Lango Sub-region, unearthed some irregularities in the exercise.
TAACC’s executive director Tom Superman Opwonya said those implementing the restocking programme at the grassroots are taking advantage of the desperation of the would-be beneficiaries to extort money from them. Some leaders are also allegedly sharing the animals among them. The problem cuts across the entire Lango Sub-region, Mr Opwonya said.
In Akalo Sub-county, residents claim they each pay Shs50,000 to benefit from the programme.
“Some people, who recently benefited from the programme, told me that for them to be considered, they paid money to the verification committee at the sub-county,” Mr Nelson Wacha, a resident of Abeli Parish in Akalo Sub-county, said.
Residents speak out
“Such people, who pay money to the implementing agencies, block us the poor from benefiting from government programmes,” another resident, Mr Ali Okwir, said.
The community development officer, the sub-county chief, the sub-county chairperson and Gombolola Internal Security Officer (GISO) are members of the verification committee.
The committee generates the list of the beneficiaries and sends to the district where vetting is done before names are forwarded to the Office of the Prime Minister. It is at this stage that local officials take the advantage to abuse the programme, Mr Opwonya explained.
TAACC said in Akalo, the verification committee has side-lined the sub-county chairperson while nominating beneficiaries.
In Financial Year 2018/2019, Akalo received 58 heads of cattle under the programme but independent budget monitors at the community level said people paid between Shs50,000 and Shs100,000 to acquire the animals.
The officer in-charge of Kole Central Police Station, Mr Graciano Nkurunziza, said the animals are supposed to be given to the people free of charge.
“I will work with the sub-county chairperson to arrest those people,” he added. The Akalo Sub-county chairperson made the claims during a public accountability forum held at St John Church of Uganda in Aputi Village last Thursday.
In Otwal Sub-county, Oyam District, TAACC said the criteria for the selection of the beneficiaries of the government’s restocking project for Financial Year 2019/2020 was not followed. For instance, the organisation said LC2s and parish development committees allegedly beneficiaries without the consent of LCI chairpersons.
Mr Patrick Ogwal Ojok, the sub-county chief, said when he was posted to Otwal, he was aware of the challenges ahead.
“If given support by the district, I will work very hard with other sub-county leaders to ensure we eliminate corruption in Otwal,” he said.
The alleged nepotism and bribery in the restocking programme have not spared Dokolo District.
The former chairperson of Ocamayon Village in Adok Sub-county, Mr James Ayo, said last year, their sub-county received 58 cows from OPM but only 41 were given out.
“The rest of the animals were shared among officials at the sub-county and nothing has been done to recover the animals,” he said.
The Dokolo District chairperson, Mr Frederick Odongo, acknowledged that there were irregularities in the implementation of the restocking programme.
“GISOs solicited money from the community purportedly to make them benefit from the programme,” he said. The district police commander, Mr Alfred Baluku, said services are not reaching the community because of corruption.