Anti corruption activists ask government to regulate powers of the IGG

By Daudi Zirimala

The Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) activists say government should regulate rather than curtail the powers of the inspectorate of government as it’s contained in the amendment to public procurement and disposal of public Assets PPDA Act 2003.

According to the executive director of ACCU Cissy Kagaba, it has emerged that government is determined to curtail the powers of the inspectorate of government with regard to investigating procurement related corruption.

Kagaba adds that as anti corruption activists, they believe that intervention by Inspector General in government projects is important and healthy for ensuring transparency and accountability because blocking the IG from investigating procurement related corruption is potentially unconstitutional and could expose government to unnecessary litigation.

They say government should address the lacuna in the regulatory framework to guide the inspectorate and also intervene in procurement corruption cases. They added regulations to IG Act be passed rather than amending the PPDA Act in a potentially unconstitutional manner.

This development comes on the heels of several procurement related scandals including the Katosi rd scandal, national ID scandal and of recent the corruption allegation shrouding the procurement of the new parliament chambers. And if the proposal to the PPDA act is passed, the Inspectorate will no longer be able to probe corruption in procurement projects and the proposal from government is influenced by several projects which have been halted by the Inspectorate of Government pending investigation, this perhaps frustrated some people in government.

IGG expresses skepticism on new virtual courts

By Sania Babirye
The inspectorate of government Irene Mulyagonja has expressed skepticism in the the newly launched video conferencing system that was introduced by the judiciary on Monday this week.

The system was launched by the chief Justice Bart Katureebe and will see prisoners tried at Luzira prison without necessarily being present in a courtroom through an on screen video.

The trial jugde or magistrate will hold court sessions while at Buganda road court while being linked to suspects in Luzira prison .

However the IGG says that if not properly monitored, the technology will be used to abet corruption between judges and prison officials.

She says that the removal of the interface between the courts and the prisoner which will be left at the mercy of the prison officers to ensure that the suspects appear on the screens.

She said this while launching a corruption report by Legal aids Service provider’s network at Hotel African in Kampala.

Mulyagonja says that a clear monitoring system should be set at Luzira prison to see that all prisons gain equally in the system so that not only those who can pay bribes to prison officials and judges can have their cases listed.

She says that there is away the prisons carry out case lists which is unjust and affects some suspects by taking long to be produced before a judge or some fail to appear and with such a new technology if not monitored by the judiciary , many will be denied justice .

She also wants the judiciary to set up a place where those suspects who have complains with the system or are not getting fair justice can go report and have their concerns addressed.

Meanwhile Justice Mulyagonja says increasing salaries of public servants will not end corruption in Uganda unless there is a clear corruption strategy policy in all government bodies.

According to Mulyagonja, no amount of salary can ever be enough because people’s demands and needs increase every single day.

Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa the head of the network says corruption is on the increase in the country, yet nothing much is being done to fight.

According to the report, only the three justice law and order justice sector out of the 17 have customized the anti corruption strategy yet it was put into place seven years ago since its was launched in 2012.

These include the Uganda Human Rights commission, the Judiciary and the Uganda police.

It was set to enable the law and justice sectors of government to put in place mechanism to eliminate corruption in the country.

Namubiru says this gap could be due to lack of funds to set up the the anti corruption strategy.

She says that all the government institutions lack funding to implement the said strategy because there is no legal frame work to make them operationalised.

She says that issues like the chief justice who heads the judiciary having no powers to recruit or punish corrupt officers which powers are vested in the Director of Public prosecution or the IGG leaves him powerless despite having the internal mechanism .

She adds that the Judicial service commission or the police standards unit as administrative units make orders but such orders are not sufficient enough to end corruption.

On the 15th of aprim the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, commissioned a video conferencing system to Luzira Maximum Security Prison and Buganda Road court. Justice Katureebe called upon all judges and other stakeholders to see that the system is used to serve its purpose. He said that if fully used by judges to serve its purpose, they will see that the system is enrolled in all courts starting from the smallest (grade one courts) to the highest court (Supreme court).To see the whole system enrolled, this will cost government 12 billion shillings annually .

The facility will be used for the mentioning of criminal cases before they are fixed for trial. Justice Katureebe also operationalised two virtual courts that have been set up within the Luzira upper Prison male and female wings. According to Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire of the court of appeal judge and also chair of the Judiciary’s technological committee , the facilities are satisfactory.

Justice Kiryabwire revealed that they will be needing 12 billion shillings for the next five years to see that the technology is enrolled in the whole country.

He said that this money will enable them to see that all courts in the country from the magistrate courts to the supreme court are connected to video conferencing.

He however said that right now the funding they are getting from ministry of finance is inadequate to allow their plans since they only received UGX6 billion which is about 50%.

He however said that he is hopeful that government will increase their.

He stated that the program is going to save suspects and Luzira prison officials the burden of coming to court even for short sessions like mentioning of case as it has been the case.

He also said that the public will also stop being inconvenienced through road closing by security personnel as it has been the case when key suspects are being brought to court.

According to Justice Kiryabwire, although proceedings like mentioning of cases takes a little time, however it has been costly in transporting suspects from Luzira prison to court were some of them have in the end escaped from court docks as it was the case in Masaka.

This means that the judge or magistrate will sit at Buganda road and mentions all cases through video conferencing with suspects at Luzira prison.

The lawyers will also have a chance to file their cases through Efilling without necessarily moving to court to file paper work as it has also been the case.

“We have entered the courts of the future in Uganda,” he said, adding: “Uganda is the first country in East Africa to set up courts inside a prison. Judiciary’s strategy is to revolutionize how justice is dispensed…Uganda is the first country in East Africa to set up courts inside a prison.”

“We are moving courts from buildings to services that are available to Ugandans who need them. With such a facility, people should be coming to the physical courts only for trials,” said Justice Kiryabwire

Hosted at the National Data Center under the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U), the high-tech court conference facilities were recently installed both in the Luzira Prison and Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court in Kampala.

The technology is designed to aid the mentioning of all criminal cases at Buganda Road Court involving accused persons on remand in Luzira Prison before their cases are fixed for trial.

Buganda Road Court will also handle related cases on behalf of the Magistrates Courts of Makindye, Nakawa, Nabweru, Law Development Center (LDC), Kira, City Hall, Nateete/Rubaga, Luzira, Kasangati and the Anti-Corruption Court.

NITA’s Executive Director, James Saaka, said the facility is designed to connect the courts beyond the geographical boundaries to provide faster administration of justice.

He said recordings from all court sessions will be safely kept in the National Backbone Infrastructure at the National Data Center.

The Officer in Charge of Luzira Upper Prison, Moses Sentalo, applauded the move.

“The system will save us the costs involved in the back and forth transportation of prisoners to courts as well as the stress that comes with moving high risk inmates. Imagine, transporting one inmate to court requires five prison officers handling different roles: driver, gunman, orderly, warder and supervisor).”

He said a team of Uganda Prisons staff have been trained to operate the facility and they are ready for the

The facilities will help among other things,

• Lower costs of prisons operations since preliminary stages of cases can be handled online.

• Minimise risks of transporting high profile prisoners as such cases will be handled online in the safety of Luzira Prisons.

• Ease access to information during court sessions since document sharing/storage will be electronic and will be accessed remotely by the concerned parties.

It will also reduce on the case backlog which has also brought about by suspects missing court sessions due to lack of transport.

The prisoner’s right’s will also be protected since they will no longer be chained as it has been while being transported in court.

Mulyagonja new anti corruption unit is welcome to investigate corrution

The inspector general of the government Irene Mulyagonja says if there is any authority that can verify the wealth and assets of former director supervision at the central bank, Justine Bagyenda, she welcomes it.

Mulyagonja says, this will vindicate her from public accusations that she has failed to investigate her friend Bagyenda.

‘’We shall gladly handover the declarations so that, that authority handles the verification so that the public stops accusing me of being friends, I don’t know where they trace me being friend to Bagyenda, but as far as I know, I came to know Justine Bagyenda as director supervision at the central bank two years back.’’ IGG noted.

According to her, she also welcomes the proposed new anti corruption unit due to be set up in the office of the president.  ‘’ I want to see whether because of this unit, people will stop coming to the office IGG to raise complaints”, she added.  

Mulyagonja said that if the president wants to have this unit  for those special cases of corruption where people will be more interested in reporting to the office the president, she is not averse  that process

During the state on national address on Wednesday 6th, President Museveni, announced his intentions to create a new anti corruption unit to assist in fighting corruption

The unit will comprise of three people namely, Former Uganda national teacher’s Union general secretary James Tweheyo, Ms. Martha Assimwe and sister Akiror.

Buganda anti corruption coalition blames IGG for unattended corruption cases

The Inspectorate of Government is under the spotlight for alleged failure to act on five corruption cases reported by South Buganda Anti-Corruption Coalition.

In 2015, South Buganda Anti-corruption Coalition, which operates in Greater Masaka region, submitted five petitions from Masaka district of alleged corruption to the regional office of the Inspectorate of Government.

The petitions include a report pinning Joseph Kimbowa, the former Masaka Town Clerk for allegedly selling off a plot of land in the newly constructed Nyendo market to Issa Lubega, a businessman based in Nyendo without council approval.  He reportedly forged council minutes to back the transaction and pocketed Shillings 28 million from the businessman.

The minutes were disowned by the council led by the Former Speaker Masaka Municipality, Steven Lukyamuzi. The council asked the IGG to investigate Kimbowa for forgery and abuse of office. Kimbowa declined to comment on the matter.

Other cases include the disputed allocation of part of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) land, which hosts the Masaka water treatment center  to local businessman Gerald Kasozi by Masaka District Land Board.

The other petition is about the allocation of the Mayor’s chambers to Brig. Silver Kayemba at the cost of Shillings 800 million without council approval.Charles Kasibante Kibabilire, the Deputy Executive Director of South Buganda anti-Corruption Coalition, says they expected the Inspectorate of Government to expedite investigations in the cases and take action, but nothing has been done.

Kasibante says they are considering dragging the implicated officers to court, since the Inspectorate of Government has failed to consider their reports and take action. Denis Lukanga Majwala, the LC III Chairperson Katwe-Butego Division, says they haven’t felt the impact of the office of the IGG in Masaka district.

According to Majwala, there are several corruption allegations in Masaka municipality, but the Inspectorate hasn’t picked them up. He cites the illegal allocation of the street parking business without a formal contract.

However, officials from the Inspectorate of Government in Masaka, say they are doing their best. One of the officials told URN on condition of anonymity, since he isn’t authorized to speak to the media, that some of the files were allocated to an official who is on maternity leave.

The officer declined to divulge further details and instead referred URN to the spokesperson of the Inspectorate of Government, Munira Ali. Our calls to Munira went without response by the time of filing this story.

 

 

-URNI

Pader town mayor cautions public servants to take care of office property

By Wasswa Deo

The Pader Town council Mayor Wodacholi Llama has expressed disappointment in government officials who do not take good care office property and materials.

Llama who has been walking to his office for the last nine months says the official motor bike was destroyed beyond repair by former mayor Omona Lapit.

This is among the many cases that have been  documented by Action aid, democratic governance facility and office of IGG for further investigations in regard to the misuse of government property.

Wodacholi says sometimes he has to request friends for lifts in order to be at work early.

The mayor has also gone for three months without salary and that he only survives by the top up for the mayor of less than 150,000/= per months and he was told by district chief administrative officer that there was an error that led to his name being scrapped off the pay list.

Christine Iga, a senior inspector says the office of IGG needs more support from communities in ending corruption to ensure that the entire country realizes better service delivery.

Irene Mulyagonja to serve for five year second term of office

By Alice Lubwama

The Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja was vetted and approved by the parliamentary appointments committee chaired by speaker Kadaga to serve for five year second term of office.

The president renewed the IGG’s  Justice Irene Mulyagonja term of office contract after serving the first five years battling the cases of corruption.

Justice Mulyagonja appeared before the parliamentary appointments committee chaired by the speaker of parliament Rebbecca Kadaga.

The source, who attended the committee, reveals that Mulyagonja was approved following serious grilling from the members for not being too hard on some corruption cases where she promised to improve.


Photo: www.statehouse.go.ug