Justice Irene Mulyagonja will be leaving office when her second and final term as Inspector General of Government (IGG) expires this weekend, Daily Monitor has learnt.
Reliable sources say the term of the government’s chief anti-corruption fighter expires on Sunday. Since July 5 falls on a weekend, Justice Mulyagonja’s last day in office will be this Friday.
She was appointed for first tenure in April 2012. When contacted about her impending departure, Ms Mulyagonja declined to comment, saying she would do so at the right time.
Prior to her appointment, Justice Mulyagonja was a judge of the High Court where she had served for four years. She leaves the IGG position when she already has another new job as a judge of the Court of Appeal where she was posted in October last year.
Her successor had not been named by press time yesterday.
President Museveni in 2018 criticised Justice Mulyagonja for not doing much in ending corruption in public offices. The President also created a parallel anti-corruption unit under State House. The unit is headed by Lt Col Edith Nakalema.
However, corruption has persisted. In the latest assessment in the 2019 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Uganda scored only 28 points out of 100.
The President said victims of corruption were not comfortable reporting the cases to the IGG.
But Justice Mulyagonja counter-argued that the money that would be injected in the State House Anti-Corruption Unit should instead be used to recruit more staff for corruption investigations.
“I would rather advise the President to give those funds to us rather than spending it on a new unit. The Inspectorate only needs to be reinforced, we need more staff, an improved budget and a forensic laboratory given the nature of our investigations,” Ms Mulyagonja said.
During her tenure, she also said judicial officers accused of petty corruption should be made to refund the bribe instead of prosecuting them. She argued that the cost of investigations and prosecution of such corrupt officials is often more than the money the IGG seeks to recover from them.
“We shall not prosecute every magistrate who takes a bribe of Shs250,000. Prosecution is very expensive and we also have few prosecutors,” Ms Mulyagonja said in 2017.
“Even the period spent prosecuting a single corruption case takes an average of two years, a period which is too long,” she added.
The then Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, now retired, was not contented with Justice Mulyagonja’s approach in handling corrupt judicial officers.
Justice Katureebe argued that no matter how small the money involved in a corruption case, such a suspect should be prosecuted.
“I don’t mind madam IGG whether it is Shs250,000. Theft is theft. Whether someone has taken Shs1b or Shs1m or even Shs50,000 which does not rightfully belong to him, that is theft...,” Justice Katureebe said in 2017 while addressing hundreds of lawyers at the Annual Law Conference in Entebbe.
Mr Katureebe cited a corruption case in the USA where the Federal Government spent more than $17m (about Shs59b) to prosecute a public official who had stolen coupons to go and watch football matches with his girlfriends.
Justice Mulyagonja also had run-ins with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who early last year summoned her to Parliament. She had written to Internal Security Organisation (ISO) to investigate some MPs on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) for alleged corruption during the investigations of the seven closed commercial banks.
“The Speaker of Parliament referred this matter to one of the committees. I heard about it that I was summoned to that committee to respond to why I referred the investigations to ISO.
I am still waiting for their summons. So for now, I have a right to remain silent,” Ms Mulyagonja told journalists in March last year.
However, all was not gloom during her tenure. In the bi-annual Inspectorate of Government performance report to Parliament, between July and December 2018, her office completed investigations into eight high profile cases out of a target of six, translating into 133 per cent success.
Ms Mulyagonja also prosecuted a case of the infamous Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga Road scam where government was fleeced of Shs24.7b by a ghost contractor and the ongoing prosecution of the Judicial Service Commission secretary, Dr Rose Nassali.
A number of the suspects in the Mukono-Katosi case were convicted but one of the accused, Mr Abraham Byandala, who was a minister by then, was acquitted.
During her tenure, she also introduced a practice of involving the public to ascertain the actual wealth owned by public officials compared to what they officially declared under the Leadership Code Act.
Cases handled by IGG
The cases involved Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); Rural Electrification Agency (REA); Uganda Police Force (UPF); Office of the Prime Minister (Old Kampala Land); Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Internal Affairs (Uganda Police), Iraji Bridge (UNHCR), and Ministry of Education (Shimon PTC).
According to the report, the cases involved Shs19b and $3.6m (about Shs13.4m).
The case of the Uganda Police involved alleged irregular promotion and recruitment of 996 police officers. The REA case indicated that $541,544 (aboutShs2b) and Shs52m was recommended for recovery in the investigations in CAA and REA.