The Inspector General of Government (IGG) is investigating top officials at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) over alleged fraud of more than Shs2b spent in ghost activities.
By presstime, Dr Chris Mukiza, the Ubos executive director, had declined to discuss the matter, referring all inquiries to the Ombudsman.
However, Sources privy to the investigations said the alleged fraud was orchestrated during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, with the officials, among others, claiming to have carried out Covid-19- related activities.
The money would allegedly be withdrawn on requisition by top Ubos officials, who would then wire it to the bank accounts of junior staff and instruct them to withdraw and share it.
According to daily monitor earlier this year, a whistleblower raised the red flag of how large sums of money was being wired to his bank account but without his knowledge.
The sources added that when the whistleblower raised the matter with the board of directors, he was instead threatened to be reprimanded for raising such lies.
Likewise, the sources said a second whistleblower also raised a similar concern and reported the alleged massive fraud to the Office of the IGG.
The IGG in March commenced investigations to find the culprits.
As part of the investigations, the IGG wrote to Ubos management, asking them to avail certified copies of Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) payment schedules and records for 11 staff and all other payments outside the IFMS. The bank accounts of the 11 staff are being scrutinised by investigators.
“The Inspectorate of Government is carrying out verification/ investigations of the declarations of incomes, assets and liabilities of some staff of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics,” Ms Annet Twine wrote on behalf of the IGG to the Ubos executive director in March.
“This is to request you avail us certified copies of IFMS payment schedule/records and all other outside IFMS to the following Ubos staff members from 2018 to date,” he added.
A month later, the IGG wrote to Ubos management, demanding certified copies of information on a number of documents, including Ubos Finance and Planning Committee minutes from July 2020 to date, Ubos approved work plan for the financial year 2020/2021, request to chairperson Covid-19 taskforce to allow Ubos carry out its activities and clearance from the chairperson of the Covid-19 taskforce for the same.
Others were fleet management monthly reports from July 2020 to date, field vehicle deployment list/details from July 2020 to date, copies of log book sheets for field vehicles deployed, and contracts of managers reports on hired field vehicles for every field deployment during the period July 2020 to date.
In their April 22 response letter, Ubos submitted four items that were part of a host of items needed to aid in investigations.
Ubos Finance and Planning Committee for July 2020 to date approved a work plan for the financial year 2020/2021, request to the chairperson, Covid-19 taskforce to allow Ubos carry out its activities, and responses to three additional questions regarding their operations.
The questions were submitted by Mr Vitus Mulindwa Kato on behalf of Dr Mukiza.
“We are still assembling information requested for concerning Ubos fleet management… and should be submitting this additional information before close of business … April 23, 2021,” Mr Mulindwa stated.
When contacted about the alleged fraud at the institution, Dr Mukiza said: “The IGG is in a better position to make a comment on that allegation, if any, for Ubos is not aware of such.”
Our sources also revealed how the three-month investigations are being frustrated by some of the top officials in the Office of the IGG, who seem to be siding with the officials of Ubos, making the work of investigators difficult.
However, Ms Munira Ali, the spokesperson of the IGG, when contacted yesterday denied the allegations that some of its top staff were derailing the investigations.
“Investigations in that case are ongoing and I don’t think if there was any interference from the top management, the investigations would be still ongoing,” she said.