President’s office distances itself from minister Amongi’s claims about compensation

By Sania Babirye
The troubled Lands Minister Betty Amongi has been disowned by the office of the president in relation to withdrawing huge sums of tax payers money from the land fund  to compensate alleged claimants.
Minister Amongi had claimed that she was   directed  by the president’s  office while she was being grilled by the land probe commission over illegal compensations.
However while appearing before the same commission chaired by justice Catherine Bamugemeire, the principle private secretary to the president Molly Kamukama rather denied the allegations and explained that when petitions concerning land matters reach her office , she usually writes back and  directs the relevant ministry to manage, investigate the complaint and after investigations then writes a report back to the minister.
Kamukama revealed that instead,  minister Amongi undermined the  directives by directly taking it upon herself to withdraw money from the land fund without reporting back to the office of the president or being cleared by the same office as required.
Last week , Minister Betty Amongi told the land probe commission that  she  received several directives from the president to urgently pay- off beneficiaries of  the Uganda Land fund ; whose land has been taken over by government for either settlement or  economic development .
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has for that matter suggested to Kamukama that the office of the president should not  even wait for the commission’s report and recommendations  but to immediately  deal with such people who steal money from the land fund and deprive off the right beneficiaries.

Acholi ministers demand 726UGX compensation for their lost cows

Two ministers; Hillary Onek and Henry Oryem Okello, are demanding 726 million Shillings as compensation for 1,210 head of cattle lost to National Resistance Army (NRA) fighters during the bush war.

A dossier of the Acholi War Debts Claimants Association, a loose coalition comprising of 22,000 members, indicates that Henry Oryem, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs is seeking additional funds for 182 goats taken alongside his herd of 640 head of cattle.   Each animal is valued at 600,000 Shillings.

The document is however silent on whether the government officials are claiming livestock owned by their parents or not. It says Henry Okello is a member of the association from Lapana village in Pugoda parish in Namokora Sub County, Kitgum district.

Eng. Hillary Onek Obaloker, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Refugees and Relief, on the other hand was registered as a claimant in Lanywang West Village, Labigiryang parish in Palabek Kal Sub County, Lamwo district.

The Acholi War Debts Claimants Association was formed by 14 people in July 2005 to seek compensation from government for the property and livestock lost during the NRA-led rebellion which ended in 1986. Government has already agreed on an out-of-court settlement of 1.4 trillion Shillings in compensation for property and livestock lost during the war.

The claims are based on the fact that NRA soldiers who had just come to power in 1985, looted about 500,000 head of cattle, 12,000 goats, 2000 sheep and 200 pigs and destroyed a number of properties.

However, Joseph Ojara, a retired veterinary officer and member of the association in Gulu district says government facilitated many claimants to fraudulently inflate the number of their livestock by ignoring veterinary records of the last animal census conducted in 1989.

At least 10 billion shillings has been advanced to members through two different sets of leaders; Eng. Noah Opwonya and Norbert Adyera. In 2016, government conducted fresh verification of members in a bid to ascertain the extent of the claims.

But Dr Fredy Oyat, another member of the association says the silence on findings of the verification exercise is worrying. He appealed to government to make its findings public to facilitate payment of members.

 

 

 

-URN