The Anglican Diocese of Kinkizi is locked in allegations of corruption, with one of the laity petitioning the Province of the Church of Uganda to intervene before the situation spirals out of control, Sunday Monitor has learn.
But the diocese administration has hit back at the critics, saying the allegations are a cover-up by a section of Christians who they accuse of attempting to kill Bishop Dan Zoreka through poisoning.
Sunday Monitor has seen a copy of a petition by Mr John Bindeba, a laity from Rugyeyo Archdeaconry, pleading with Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and saying the Kanungu-based diocese is losing resources to corrupt leaders.
Church of Uganda provincial secretary, the Rev Can Willian Ongeng, has confirmed receipt of the petition dated November 30, but said no action has been taken because the matter is subject to what he calls “prejudice.”
“It is true we received the petition but we cannot do anything about it because the bishop told us the matter is in court. So when matters are in court, we cannot say anything as a Province,” the Rev Can Ongeng said.
However, Mr Kanyankole, the Kinkizi Diocesan Secretary, told Sunday Monitor that neither the diocese nor any of its administrators have been sued over allegations of corruption.
“I have not heard about any case in court at all about this matter, and the diocese has not sued anybody either,” Mr Kanyankole said.
The CID spokesperson, Mr Charles Twine, yesterday confirmed that police detectives are investigating allegations of attempted poisoning after taking it over from the Kigezi regional police headquarters.
“It is true we are investigating a case of poisoning. Because of the gravity of the allegations, we decided to take it over from the territorial police. We want to establish whether the substance available is, indeed poisonous, or whether the suspects are the right persons involved as alleged. When we complete investigations, we will let you know,” Mr Twine said by telephone.
In the petition, Mr Bindeba alleges that Bishop Zoreka, Diocesan Secretary Kenneth Kanyankole, and Treasurer Fabith Katureebe connived to steal money coming into the coffers of the church and instead enriched themselves, including by putting up expensive houses.
Some of the money alleged to have been embezzled includes about Shs1 billion from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) as compensation to churches affected by a road construction project, Shs5 billion from a diocesan savings and credit cooperative society, and, also fraudulent sale of land.
“The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) money that was talked about in my earlier letter is said to have been shared between the diocesan secretary, treasurer, and the bishop and believers have pointed at mansions of these office bearers as evidence to this allegations,” Mr Bindeba wrote in his petition.
“I have information that KICOD SACCO, which started in 2008 with many members; with a capital of over Shs2.5b at that time and the chairperson being the diocesan secretary, collapsed in 2015 and the above mentioned office bearers have never called a shareholders’ meeting and the shareholders are threatening to sue them.”
Inflated church land deal
The petitioner further alleges that the three leaders also connived to inflate the price of a church land being offered for sale at Shs40m but they sold it at Shs100m, making away with Shs60m for their own benefit.
There are also allegations on the mismanagement of several church projects, including a commercial building in Kanungu Town, and frustrating education programmes.
But the diocesan secretary, who is the accounting officer of the diocese, and the treasurer; another signatory to the accounts, have denied any wrongdoing, saying the church is on track.
Bishop Zoreka was not available for a comment as he did not pick up our calls placed to his known mobile phone number.
Mr Kanyankole told Sunday Monitor that, indeed the diocese received money from UNRA and it was distributed to churches whose land was affected by the UNRA construction works.
He also denied the collapse of the Sacco was as a result of what was alleged in the petition.
“All those allegations are aimed to overshadow the poisoning business. Some people who wanted to poison the bishop are the ones doing this.
UNRA paid money last year, it was given to specific churches. And I came to office in January this year. The Sacco closed about nine years back and so these fake allegations are confusing the public,” Mr Kanyankole said.
Ms Katureebe acknowledged receiving money from UNRA, but asked that whoever is discontented with how the administration of the diocese spent the money, should seek accountability through rightful channels.
She said, as a treasurer, she approves payment of whatever cash that the diocesan secretary has approved.
“I received some money and reported it in the finance board. I am not a single signatory to the diocesan account because I just approve when the (principal) signatory; the diocesan secretary. has approved. About the Sacco, I just received it when it had collapsed.”
Plot to poison bishop
Fabith Katureebe, who told Sunday Monitor how some Christians wanted to poison the bishop, said: “I am the one who caught the poison after being tipped off by a girl who had been hired by one of the archdeacons to kill the bishop. We are waiting for a report from police CID headquarters in Kibuli and the devil shall be put to shame.”
Reports say, early this year, police in Kanungu arrested four people, including a priest (names withheld) after the bishop reported a case.
The suspects were later released on police bond after their case was forwarded to the CID headquarters in Kibuli for further management.