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Gov’t probes 13 top NGO accounts

National NGO Forum logo. Government wants NGOs’ bank details for review

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) has asked Equity bank for the account details of 13 non-governmental organizations to establish their source of their funding.

They are Action Aid International Uganda, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, National Non-Governmental Organisation Forum, Human Rights Network Uganda, National Democratic Institute, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Democratic Governance Facility, Kick Corruption Out of Uganda, National Association of Professional Environmentalists, and the African Institute for Energy Governance.

In an August 8, 2019 letter, FIA directs Equity bank to “search your databases and avail us account opening documents, bank statements for the last three years and any other information available to you linked to each of the above-listed entities for further review,” reads the letter signed by Sydney Asubo, the FIA Executive Director.

In a cheeky response on Twitter on Tuesday evening, Godber Tumushabe, the associate director of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, which is also listed, said: “The guys at FIA May be probably don’t know what’s going on. They have to start with the contraband imported by Bank of Uganda before they begin to look serious”.

The order for the NGO bank details comes at a time when the government has called for the registration and verifications of all NGOs in the country.  In a document issued last week, Internal Affairs Minister, Jeje Odongo indicated that with effect from 31st July 2019, the National NGO register indicated that there were 14,207 registered NGOs.

Only 3,810 of them had had valid permits, while 10,397 had expired permits. “The method of establishing those figures involved physically going through every registered NGO file at the Bureau for verification,” Odongo said.

But also government has become uncomfortable with sharp criticism from several NGOs on issues of corruption, police brutality, and general governance issues. The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Act 2016, which established the National Bureau for NGOs (NGO Bureau), was mainly seen as an entity to clip their wings.

The FIA is mandated to see that dirty money that can finance terrorists or be laundered doesn’t  enter the country.

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