Uganda Law Reform officials pay back Shs205m after IGG probe

The outgoing IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja. She ordered that the 13 accused officials refund up to Shs545.4 million they plundered PHOTO/ FILE

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) has recovered at least Shs205 million after a two-year investigation into alleged corruption against suspended top officials at Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC)

The outgoing IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, in a preliminary report issued on January 20, ordered that 13 accused officials including Mr Lucas Omara Abong, the ULRC secretary, to refund up to Shs545.4 million that they allegedly plundered between 2015/16 and 2017/18.
The IGG is investigating alleged theft of more than Shs1b in ULRC.
In the preliminary report, Justice Mulyagonja asked the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, to institute administrative sanctions on the implicated officials and report back to the IGG office within two months.

Ms Munira Ali, the IGG communications officer, told Daily Monitor after the ombudsman’s preliminary report to the Attorney General, that some of the implicated officials refunded Shs205m.

However, Ms Mulyagonja declined to reveal the names of the accused who have since refunded money and how much each has paid.

“I will only give you a block figure of Shs205m that the Inspectorate has so far recovered from those officials. I cannot tell who has paid and who has not because our investigations are still ongoing,” Ms Ali said.

In addition to Mr Abong, other officials implicated in both IGG and Auditor General reports are the ULRC Undersecretary, Mr David Obol, the Senior Accountant, Mr George Atwijukire, the head of Law Reform, Mr Patrick Nyakaana and the Principal Assistant Secretary, Mr Moses Apopel.

Others are: Senior legal officer, Mr Kenneth Rutaremwa, Senior Accounts Assistant, Ms Winnie Tuhaise, Senior accountant officer, Mr Leonard Baguma and Senior Accounts Assistant, Mr Sam Lwanga, Senior Economist Mr James Musaazi, human resource officer, and Internal Auditor Mr Isah Mayanja.

The IGG investigations were triggered by the Auditor General’s audit report of March 26, 2019 which was a response to President Museveni’s directive for an audit after receiving whistle-blowers’ information about the corruption in the Commission.

In his report, the Auditor General Mr John Muwanga, stated that the accounting officer, Mr Abong received Shs785 million from the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) but declared only Shs690 million.

The Auditor General also reported that Shs951 million had no payment vouchers to prove official expenditure whereas the accused officials also spent Shs604 million purportedly on workshops but there were no supporting documents. There are also Shs3.58b that was not accounted for in 2015/16 and 2017/18 financial years.

“These practices contravene the Public Finance Management Regulations and Guidelines,” the report stated.
“I noted instances where incomplete activities were reported as completed in the JLOS SWAP annual performance reports. For example, the development and printing of the pocket size Children’s Act at a cost of Shs55 million,” the Auditor General added.

The IGG report indicates that between July 2016 and December 2018, up to Shs404.7m was paid purportedly for monitoring and evaluation of the Commission’s projects but it was all plundered.

“The former Accounting Officer of the Commission, Lucas Omara Abong (on interdiction at the time of report) and the Undersecretary Mr David Obol are responsible for approving requisitions in regard to Monitoring and Evaluation well aware that they were not valid,” the IGG report states in part.

She also accuses Abong of diversion of Shs150m meant for online publication of Principal Laws of Uganda 7th Edition but rather was spent on revision of laws. The money was a funding from JLOS.

Attorney Generalreinstates officials
Meanwhile, Daily Monitor has seen another petition to the President through a confidential memo dated March 9 where the Attorney General’s office is accused of reinstating to office the officials of ULRC who were implicated in the IGG report.

“Whereas the preliminary findings in the report confirm the culpability of all the persons interdicted, it is indeed surprising that the AG has decided to lift all the interdictions and invite the culpable officers to return to office under unclear circumstances,” the memo reads in part. However, Mr William Byaruhanga, the AG, in a statement to this newspaper said he reinstated the implicated officials after giving a verbal warning to some of them and writing to others who were supposed to refund the money.

He said only Mr Lucas Omara Abong, Mr David Obol and Mr Patrick Nyakana were recommended for prosecution and his office cannot obstruct the IGG.