Behind Nakalema, Akullo investigation
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | At 10am on June 12 Col. Edith Nakalema, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Grace Akullo and their team arrived at Bank of Uganda (BoU).
Nakalema who is the head of the Anti-corruption Unit-State House and Akullo who is the director of the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID) headed straight to the topmost floor of BoU—Level 7.
This floor has very few offices. Governor Tumusiime Mutebile’s office and that of his Deputy Louis Kasekende are the most notable.
But Nakalema, Akullo and their team did not enter any of these. They went straight to the boardroom, where the senior management of the bank—Executive Committee (EXCOM)—usually meets.
Governor Mutebile was not in office. Neither was his Deputy.
Mary Katarikawe, the Executive Director Operations (EDO), who was chairing the meeting in the boardroom, introduced the Nakalema, Akullo delegation and explained why they were there.
Katarikawe told the meeting that the governor had requested Nakalema to investigate the circumstances under which a plane chartered by BoU to bring 1400 boxes of currency notes from France to Entebbe on April 27 ended up with extra unauthorised cargo.
By now all the BoU officials in the room knew about the incident.
What some did not know is that on May 03, a week after the incident, Governor Mutebile had called Nakalema on his personal mobile phone, informed her about the incident and asked her to investigate. Nakalema had asked him to put the request in writing and the Governor on May 08 had done exactly that.
Leaked documents show that Dr. Natamba Bazinzi, the Assistant Director Administration Currency Department who was at the time the Acting Director Currency, was the first to report the matter of extra cargo. Insiders say he reported to his other immediate bosses and together they secured a meeting with Governor Mutebile on May 03. That meeting started at about 3pm. But details about it remain scanty.
“How could this happen?” Governor Mutebile muttered during the meeting, “That cannot happen.”
When officials briefed him that they had been investigating, Mutebile decided the matter could not be investigated by internal bank staff.
Given that time had passed and the cargo had since been taken away, Mutebile wanted to know what was in the five extra cargo pallets.
The Independent could not confirm whether Governor Mutebile called Nakalema during or after this meeting. But we confirmed that Nakalema received a call from Mutebile that very day.
After the meeting, Mutebile tasked the officials to come up with a proper brief, which he would base on to officially write to Nakalema requesting her to investigate the matter.
After receiving the brief, he fired off the official letter to Nakalema on May.8.
8 BoU officials detained
That is how Nakalema and Akullo ended up at BoU a month later. Given the sensitivity of the matter, Nakalema had decided to work with Akullo’s CIID.
Now in the BoU boardroom, Nakalema told the BoU officials that eight of them would be accompanying her to record statements and help in the investigations. Tension mounted. The officials were not even allowed time to return to their desks to windup whatever they had been doing.
Instead, a white Nissan omnibus was already waiting in a parking at Level 2. The eight BoU officials were told to board. It was about 11am. None of them knew where they were headed.
But a few minutes later, the omnibus stopped at the former President’s Office building next to parliament about 500 metres away.
Here, each one of the eight recorded a statement or was interrogated separately. This went on up to about 6pm. Then they were put into sets of two still in separate rooms.
One pair was told they would be taken to Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka, another one to Central Police Station (CPS), and another one to Katwe Police Station. Only two officials were allowed to return to BoU and then go home.
An official involved in the investigations told The Independent, the two allowed to return home because their statements were consistent while the others gave contradictory statements.
But even those released were told to stay within Kampala and keep their phones on. Back at BoU, they relayed the events of the day to anxiously waiting colleagues, a source at BoU told The Independent.