The Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit at State House, Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, has disclosed that over 482 people have been arrested by the unit and charged in Courts of Law for misappropriating the Parish Development Model (PDM) funds and other government programmes.
Out of that number, 261 are civil servants who have already appeared in Court and interdicted and over 200 civilians have also been charged with 79 convicted.
Gen. Isoke added that this year alone, 36 suspects have appeared in court whereby 20 are government officials.
The Head of the ACU at State House was today giving an overview report to members of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus attending a 10-day retreat at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi, on their investigations about the mismanagement of the Parish Development Model (PDM) funds in Acholi sub-region.
The misappropriation of PDM funds was recently unearthed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during his ‘Investment and Wealth Creation’ tour in the area on the 24th of February 2023.
This report comes against the backdrop of complaints received by the President from the wanainchi he met at Kaunda Grounds in Gulu City on the mismanagement of the PDM programme in the Acholi sub-region.
Following the complaints, President Museveni directed Brig. Gen. Isoke to investigate all the allegations and bring all officials found to be culpable to book.
Brig. Gen. Isoke and his team swiftly swung into action and discovered that there was a lot of extortion from the public by government officials mandated to handle the PDM programme.
“There was extortion from the public between 5,000 to 80,000 Uganda Shillings per person for registration, opening Bank Accounts or for helping beneficiaries to fill forms,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Isoke added that the Wanainchi were kept in total blackout, they were not sensitised about the programme, especially on how to access PDM funds.
He further told MPs that the wanainchi were informed of the PDM programme at a very short notice to organise themselves including the formation of the SACCOs.
Brig. Gen. Isoke, however, observed that under normal circumstances the formation of a SACCO is an elaborate process that requires adequate time for its establishment.
“The Commercial Officers, Production Agents and LCs gave Town agents in Gulu only 3 days to organise themselves, choose leaders, agree on the enterprise projects, verify who qualifies, open Bank Accounts as well as register the enterprise Constitution,” he said.
Brig. Isoke added that their investigation also discovered that roles were switched as what should have been done by households was now being carried out by the Town agents who acted on behalf of the beneficiaries.
They also found out that there were delays in data collection, loan application forms were very lengthy and written only in the English language.
The ACU team further discovered that there was fraudulent accounting by the officials implementing the PDM programme citing among others; the claimed training of 32 town agents, an allegation that was only in ink and paper, yet no agent received any training.
The team further unearthed the existence of ghost PDM staff and also the selling of the SACCO Constitution between 25,000 to 50,000 Uganda Shillings.
Brig. Gen. Isoke, therefore, told MPs of their recommendations and among them to fix all gaps that President Museveni in his tour of the sub-region discovered and validated by his investigating team as being very true.
“While the PDM remains to be the magic bullet to transform the remaining 39% of the population from peasantry to money economy and could be one of the landmark achievements by the NRM government, the gaps identified, if not fixed in time will be exploited by the reactionary forces,” Brig. Gen. Isoke noted.
He also informed the retreat of the actions so far taken that include the arrest of government officials and 6 of them have already been arraigned in court and charged with different offences.
“Among those arrested, arraigned and charged in court is the Commercial Officer Gulu City one Komakech Atem. In Kitgum district, we have arrested district officials including the CAO who diverted PDM funds amounting to over 526 million Uganda Shillings and they are on remand.”
Brig. Gen. Isoke who asked the MPs to be vigilant and join in the fight to wipe out corruption perpetuated by government officials, availed them with toll-free numbers of 0800202500 and on WhatsApp 0778202500 as well as a clientele desk that operates 24 hours a day.
He further recommended to MPs to have a robust monitoring mechanism and provision of harmonized PDM guidelines for the implementers as well as proper coordination of all stakeholders including sister security agencies on sharing information and stringent immediate action to expose and hold those found culpable, accountable for their evil deeds.
He pledged the commitment of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to intensify its efforts in fighting corruption in the country as well as work with other anti-corruption agencies, MDAs and all other stakeholders to protect all government programs geared at enhancing effective service delivery and getting the people of Uganda out of poverty as well as make them join the money economy.
“Fighting together, we shall defeat corruption,” Brig. Gen. Isoke vowed.
On the same occasion, the Deputy Director General of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Lt. Col. Emmy Katabazi, briefed members of the NRM Caucus on the new tools that the government has developed for enhancing their work.
He commended MPs for supporting them by appropriating funds to ISO that have enabled them to acquire some vehicles that have now eased their work.