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Judiciary PS skips PAC meeting over audit queries

FILE PHOTO: PAC meeting chaired by Nandala Mafabi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi was no show at a meeting convened by the Public Accounts Committee-PAC of Parliament.

The committee chaired by the Budadiri West MP, Nathan Nandala Mafabi had summoned Grace Akullo, the Director Criminal Investigations (CID) to take part in its proceedings with Judiciary officials following a whistleblower’s petition indicating that Shillings 34 billion could have been misappropriated.

Mafabi, made the decision on Monday following scrutiny of the expenditure of Shillings 34 billion, which was questioned by the Auditor General. Nandala also noted on Thursday last week that his committee received a petition in line with the alleged misappropriation of funds by the Permanent Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi in connivance with other officials in the Judiciary.

The money according to Kagole was spent on operational court costs, mediation, Court sessions, imprest, locus visits, HIV medical allowances and Monitoring and Evaluation since these items lack direct budget lines. However, a scrutiny of a detailed document indicating how the funds were spent revealed that some of the money had been wired into individual accounts of different Judicial officers and Justices for various reasons including operational funds, payment of tuition and medical fees among others.

“In a week, you have got over 100 million Shillings, next week you have another 100 million, what are you doing with it? We suspect forgery in the accounts and theft of public funds,” Nandala said. He also noted that the whistleblower’s information correlates with what his committee has partly discovered in the Judiciary accounts.

Kagole was expected to lead a team of officials from Judiciary before PAC to answer to audit queries in vain. The Judiciary Chief Registrar, Esther Nambayo noted the committee that Kivumbi’s whereabouts are unknown since he didn’t make any formal communication about his absence or even delegate his Under Secretary to account for funds appropriated in the financial year 2017/2018.

“We were told to come back today, the accounting officer was to lead us but we were not able to get him in office or communicate to him and we thought we would meet him here. As we waited here, a lawyer came and told me that he had been sent to represent the Permanent Secretary,” said Nambayo.

Asked to identify the lawyer, Nambayo pointed out Obed Mwebesa who said that his verbal instructions to appear before PAC were abrupt. He explained to the committee that Kagole was indisposed. This didn’t go down well with legislators who demanded that Kagole be dragged before the Committee, saying that his behavior was in contempt of parliament.

The move by PAC to involve the CID Director didn’t go down well with Kagole who requested that the committee also invites the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and Director Public Prosecution (DPP) to be part of the meeting, saying that the officials had handled an earlier petition against him.

He noted that he had not been privy to issues raised in the whistleblower’s petition to the committee and as well have time to respond to the matter. However, Nandala said that his committee was handling a fresh petition and only interested in the CID Director since it’s her office, which is attached to accountability proceedings in parliament committees.

He further said that details of the petition would be made available in the presence of the CID Director. Nandala also noted that the petitioners would also interface with the CID on their claims.

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