Wakiso, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema has ordered the arrest of Nansana Municipality Town Clerk James Ambrose Atwoki and suspension of all Technical Staff at the local government headquarters over graft.
Nansana municipality has been an epicentre of controversies since the beginning of the year. Accusations and counter-accusations amongst technical staff and politicians recently triggered a crisis that led to the closure of the municipal headquarters for several days.
At the time, councillors, backed by some technical staff forcefully evicted the Town Clerk from office accusing him of abuse of office, and abetting corruption. Their complaints zeroed on the operations of the finance, administration, procurement, and works departments.
In the aftermath, the Ministry of Local Government launched investigations into the matter. But a group of 26 councillors petitioned the State Anti-Corruption Unit to intervene in the matter saying that they were not convinced that the Ministry of Local government would address their concerns, expeditiously.
On Friday afternoon, the State Anti-Corruption Unit together with other agencies including the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government Ben Kumumanya stormed the municipality and held a meeting which later turned into an investigation panel with several individuals submitting evidence as others shared their grievances.
During their submissions, a section of councillors pinned the technocrats in their presence. Some of them tendered in information and evidence implicating some in corruption and later made formal statements with the investigating officers of the unit.
Councillors led by Daniel Mivule and Hawah Mbabazi pointed out the town clerk, Health Educator and the Human Resource Officer, among other technical officers, of trying to bribe them to conceal their dirty linen. They informed the meeting that they had proof in terms of audio recordings, pictures, mobile money messages, phone messages and bank statements.
They also re-echoed queries on the departments in question with the works department blamed for the poor road network and utilization of funds allocated towards the maintenance of roads.
The finance department is said to be ripping-off funds meant to be remitted to the division, while the Procurement office is accused of abusing authority by asking for kickbacks to influence bidding processes and awarding contracts to companies owned by their colleagues and friends.
As evidence piled, Nakalema ordered the Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Moses Kafeero to arrest the Town Clerk. She said that before the petition, her offices had received several other complaints all pointing to a common issue.
However, the town clerk was sent on leave to give way for investigation by the ministry and could not be arrested at the time. Nakalema insisted that police should locate and lock him up.
She further ordered the permanent secretary to suspend the entire staff and bring in a fresh team to handle matters as investigations commence. Nakalema also ordered the rearrest of two staff who had been arrested earlier for hacking into the municipality system before the ministry of local government-led investigation.
Kumumanya handed over all the staff members to the police so that they record statements and were all ferried to Nansana Police Station which is just opposite the municipality headquarter. Kumumanya, however, notes that the matter of suspending them needs to be handled under the human resource laws. Nonetheless, he says that the right administrative decision will soon be made.
He further asserts that the ministry of local government had gathered a lot of information during their investigation adding that much of this will be handed over to the anti-corruption unit as supporting documents.