recipe geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The President’s office in February ordered that the Director of Operations at the Inspectorate of Government, sale James Onying Penywii, adiposity vacates his office to take over leadership of a special taskforce to monitor implementation of government programmes by the Office of Prime Minister (OPM).
The joint unit was formed as a response to the multi-billion corruption scandal at the OPM in 2012.
It is expected to keep a close eye on donor-supported programmes especially PRDP and NUSAF II.
“Penywii was told to go and head this unit but he has refused. He wants to remain as Director of Operations at the IGG’s office. He is putting up a spirited fight because the new position denies him control and oversight of the Inspectorate’s entire operations,” said a source who preferred anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
The development comes against the backdrop of the arrest and charging of the Principal Inspectorate Officer, Jane Mpeirwe and her husband Arthur Mpeirwe for reportedly soliciting for a bribe from NSSF Acting Managing Director, Geraldine Ssali.
The duo was last week charged at the Anti-corruption Court in a case that embarrassed the institution which constitutionally mandated with the responsibility of eliminating corruption, abuse of authority and of public office.
While the case exposed the corrupt tendencies of senior officials at the IGG’s office, sources say this is just an iota of a wider problem that continues to undermine Irene Mulyagonja’s efforts to combat graft in Uganda.
Shortly after taking over as IGG, sources say, Mulyagonja urged President Museveni that to boost efficiency, he needed to create a team of trusted and incorruptible officers to battle the whales of corruption in Uganda.
She also argued at one of the meetings with Museveni that one of the reasons why the IGG continues to lose cases against suspected corrupt officials even in the presence of overwhelmingly incriminating evidence was due to poor skills and corruption in the investigations department.
Government has lost big cases of corruption against Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula, Gilbert Bukenya, John Nasasira, Mwesigwa Rukutana among others.
Courts absolved them of any wrongdoing in several controversial deals.
In fact for so many years, the IGG has fallen short of securing a significant number of convictions for corruption suspects yet the country continues to lose billions of shillings annually to graft.
Apart from Teddy Ssezi Cheeye, Godfrey Kazinda and Chandi Jamwa who have been convicted of corruption-related cases, majority of suspects remain on the loose.
“This is because the investigations arm of the IGG is not only weak but infested with corrupt officers. The evidence collected is either inadequate or shaky to sustain a solid case against a corruption suspect,” said a source.
The source further said the IGG’s office is being used by officials to extort money from suspected thieving officials and “killing” evidence.
Basing on these grounds, robust steps have been taken to empower the operations directorate with competent and clean officers thus removing the old guard.
However, Penywii has since refused to quit the public office.
It should be noted that Jane Mpeirwe who is currently in court for soliciting a bribe from Ssali, serves under Penywii.
It is the same directorate that supplies evidence to the Inspectorate’s Legal Department headed by Sydney Asubo to prosecute corruption suspects.
It defeats logic that the Mpeirwes will face the full wrath of the law given that they have been working closely with the department now prosecuting them.
Unlike other corruption suspects who are usually sent on remand on first committal in court, the Mpeirwes were granted immediate bail even at the risk of jeopardising investigations.
Yet, earlier, the same court remanded Patricia Ojangole, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Development Bank Ltd (UDBL) for alleged influence peddling and victimising a whistleblower.
Sources further suggest that the IGG cannot be the complainant in the case and at the same time prosecutor, adding that the Mpeirwes’ case should have been handled by the Police for justice to prevail.
However, it is widely thought the IGG wants the matter handled internally as it would expose the rot in the institution.
For example, Jane Mpeirwe was captured in a clear video footage asking for a bribe from Ssali.
She is seen and ehard promising to write a favourable report on Ssali in the NSSF corruption investigation.
The officer further, boldly, claims that she has helped several high ranking officials to elude prosecution on charges of corruption.
Sources say as long as Penywii is still in charge of operations at the Inspectorate, the Mpeirwes will go scot-free.
Penywii is not a stranger to controversy.
In 2009, Pader district officials accused IGG officials including Penywii of harassment and conflict on interest in the investigation of the misappropriation of over sh8b from the district coffers.
At the time, Penywii was a director of Best Services Limited, one of the construction companies which were under investigation for price inflation, influence peddling, forged claims and demanding payment for works not executed.
In a letter to then Local Government Minister, Kahinda Otafiire, Pader District Chairperson, Peter Odok said Penywii’s company at one time forced the diversion of Universal Primary Education (UPE) funds to settle their bills.
It had over the years won several contracts including the building of UPE schools.
“We are convinced, as a district, that the IGG staff under Penywii are not carrying out any genuine investigation in Pader district. The investigators are there to defend corruption. Officials from the IGG’s office have resorted to intimidating district officials. The witch-hunting by the IGG in Pader has scared our district employees including the Police. We cannot do our work normally; our services to the people are being frustrated by the IGG activities. Please help the district,” he pleaded to Otafiire.
The Inspectorate’s publicist Ali Munira and Penywii were not readily available for comment when we published this story on Sunday afternoon.
The Inspectorate of Government was initially established by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) statute in 1988. However, with the promulgation of the Uganda Constitution in 1995, the Inspectorate of Government is now entrenched therein under chapter 13, which prescribes its mandate, functions and powers and other relevant matters.
The powers as enshrined in the Constitution and IG Act include to investigate or cause investigation, arrest or cause arrest, prosecute or cause prosecution, make orders and give directions during investigations; access and search – enter and inspect premises or property or search a person or bank account or safe deposit box among others.
In an article, Presidential Assistant, Morrison Rwakakamba said the NRM government has worked to strengthen investigative organs that deal with corruption.
“For example, the government reformed the office of the Auditor General (AG) and Director of Public prosecutions (DPP) from mere departments to substantive and independent institutions. The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has powers of the high court and is visibly interrogative and very much on the scene in the corruption fight. The anti- Corruption Court is in place.”
Next week, don’t miss how the Mpeirwe’s corruption bubble bust and how Mulyagonja has a long way to go in cleaning his yard of corrupt officers.
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