IGG lauds Monitor for anti-graft fight

Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao (left) hands over a dummy cheque to the General Manager-Editorial at Nation Media Group-Uganda (NMG-U), Mr Daniel Kalinaki (right), during the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, 2022. Photo/Felix Ainebyoona

What you need to know:

  • The unnamed thieving officials have so far reimbursed Shs650m, according to the Inspectorate of Government. 

The Inspectorate of Government (IG) has praised the bold and revealing journalism by Monitor Publications Ltd (MPL), publisher of Daily Monitor newspaper, and its contribution to good governance through exposing corruption.
Speaking at the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in Ibanda District on Friday last week, the Inspector General of Government Beti Kamya said fighting corruption requires theparticipation of all citizens.
“Last year, the Daily Monitor broke a story of Shs9 billion which was lost through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the money was sent to two institutions; Fisheries Training Institute in Entebbe and Bukalasa Agricultural College in Luweero District,” she said of this newspaper’s October 1, 2021 exclusive.

The story prompted investigations by the Ombudsman, and culpable officials in a non-disclosure agreement with the IG accepted they pilfered the Shs8.9b and agreed to refund it. 
The unnamed thieving officials have so far reimbursed Shs650m, according to the Inspectorate of Government, which on Friday handed to Monitor a dummy cheque worth Shs32.5m as first installment of an expected Shs420m whistleblower pay-out to the newspaper.  

The Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2010, provides that an individual who, in line with procedure set forth in the law, lodges with an “authorised officer” information on irregular, illegal or corrupt practices which results in successful inquiries, is under Section 19 entitled to receive five percent of recovered money or net sum of liquidated asset. 
At the Friday event, IGG Kamya said that the Daily Monitor’s October 1, 2021 revelations, and additional information provided in lodged disclosure, led her investigators “everywhere and even those [culpable] people admitted that, ‘yes, the money was taken and no work was done’”.

“We ordered them to refund the money and they took to refund and we gave [them] a period of 12 months. So far we have recovered Shs650m and five percent of that is Shs32.5m,” she said shortly before Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Norbert Mao presented the dummy cheque to Mr Daniel Kalinaki, the general manager, editorial, Nation Media Group-Uganda.
“On behalf of the team that I lead at Monitor Publications and Nation Media Group Uganda, we are very grateful for this honour”, Mr Kalinaki said,  “we are living in a time where people who are corrupt are so emboldened that they can actually sue us when we expose their corruption.” 
He added: “So, it is gratifying to see that the work of the journalists who I lead is recognised and it helps the government to recover money that people have stolen.”
Our investigations unearthed a scheme in which bureaucrats at Agriculture ministry, wired about Shs9 billion to two agricultural training institutions in 2020 and 2021 ostensibly for “settlement of students’ feeding bills” and infrastructure development, despite all schools being closed during the Covid-induced lockdown.

The money was sent to Fisheries Training Institute Entebbe and Bukalasa Agricultural College, Wobulenzi in Luweero District in several tranches between October 2020 and August, last year, with some of the expenditure appearing duplicated.
Information posted on the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), a centralised government repository for financial, budgetary and accounting operations, showed that some of the money was disbursed for procurement of fishing gear for students and hostel rehabilitation. 
The story’s lead author, Mr Amos Ngwomoya, who joined the Inspectorate of Government last month, months after the reward pay-out was announced, was ecstatic about the impact of the article.

The recognition, he noted, underlines the newspaper’s bold journalism that builds the nation by exposing malfeasance, adding that the reporter and editor who handled the story spurned intimidation and bribe offers from the corrupt.
 “I am proud that after spending seven years in the newsroom, I leave a remarkable history of authoring the story that didn’t only enable the government to recover over Shs8 billion from thieving officials, but also brought the NMG-U money, the five percent of the recovered money,” he said.

Mr Ngwomoya asked the government to consider the media as partners in development, not foes, and “journalists should be protected and given the necessary support”.
In comments after the award, NMG-U Managing Director Tony GIencross said “our journalism plays a key role in development and democracy in Uganda”.
With or without awards, he noted, this newspaper will “continue to expose wrong doing when we find it”.
“The reward is a ‘nice to have’ and we will use the money to further develop our journalism skills … the reward impact will be on development of journalists … not why we do [groundbreaking journalism],” he added.

In a speech read for him by minister Mao, President Museveni said he is receiving increasing reports that political leaders are embroiled in corrupt practices, contradicting a bush-time commitment in the NRM’s 10-point programme. 
“How can we hope to convince anyone of the righteousness of our cause if our own people are violating our own stated goals, thereby undermining our political economic and social programmes?” he said.
Mr Museveni said the remedy in fighting corruption is the Leadership Code which will be able to pin public officials on the accumulated wealth.
He added: “The next battle in the war against corruption is its detection, there are a number of government agencies that ought to be doing it … the major task in combating corruption, therefore, is to ensure that these institutions are manned by incorruptible people.”

A scorecard released to launch start of the commemoration of the Anti-Corruption Week revealed that the Auditor General ranks top in recovering money pilfered by public officials followed by State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) with the Inspectorate of Government coming third on that yardstick.
The three agencies, which are frontline anti-graft soldiers, combined over the past three years got back into state coffers about Shs241b taken out by different officials, according to a scorecard.
Of the stated amount, the IG is on course to recover Shs30b, including the Shs9b and Shs1b from the Agriculture ministry and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), respectively, and is currently investigating cases valued at about Shs500b.