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Bigirimana Case: Parliament Must Adhere To The Rules Of Natural Justice

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information pills buy more about http://converseconsultants.com/components/com_k2/views/itemlist/view.html.php geneva;”>Reading Mr Odokorach’s response, about it http://center4research.org/wp-admin/includes/class-bulk-plugin-upgrader-skin.php I get the impression that he belongs to a new breed of hot blooded anti-corruption missionaries whose tools are blackmail and stigma.

To them, it is not about the act, it is everything to do with the identity, the religion, region, tribe and the perceived political affiliation and political camp of the actor in issue.

To them, the mere feeling that one is not hostile to the establishment tantamount to “defending the undefendable and white washing scandal.”

To them, an independent minded person is one who professes anti-establishmentarianism no matter how clumsy the premise for so doing.

Our peers on the other side of the political divide, often times call us derogatory names such as;”boot lickers”, “schemers”, “arrivists”, “converts” , etc. This of course is deliberately designed to generate amongst us a sense of guilt so as to blackmail us out of an otherwise just cause.

Conversely, our peers on this side of the political divide are no exception either. They too refer to as “disgruntled” whosoever is perceived a proponent of divergent opinion.

The entire debate is so vulgarized that it is devoid of the aura of fairness that is the much needed building block for cohesion and tranquility in the management of public affairs.

In the assessment of Uganda’s anti corruption missionaries, anything which, in one way or the other, is perceived pro-government, is unpatriotic.

No wonder when NRM’s Muyanja Mbabali loses his seat to DP’s Mathias Nsubuga through a legitimate court process, there is jubilation and merry making in salutation of our justice system and this news is captured as a front page headline.

Granted, but why then is it that when NRM’s Nalwanga of Luwero trounces DP’s Nabukenya through the same court process ,there is deliberate silence as if it was stolen victory?

Would someone explains to me why such a news item is not considered worthy of being assigned the left hand bottom corner of the 100th page of a leading newspaper!

When Andrew Mwenda puts up a spirited attack against government for deploying UPDF in the DR CONCO without approval of parliament, he isn’t here and then, booked a place amongst the top-notch journalists. However when the same Andrew Mwenda faults parliament for condemning Kuteesa and Onek unheard, his very same admirers label him a regime apologist who has divorced himself from journalism value system.

When Capt Pola Awich is seconded to Geneva as Uganda’s representative on the UN human rights team, there is not a single accusing finger pointed at government, instead the move is applauded as praiseworthy. However when the same Uganda sends Muhoozi overseas for further military training, the move is faulted as having been tilted only to favour Muhoozi.

As soon as it is mentioned that Museveni’s brother is one of the shareholders in the company accused of erecting a structure on one of kampala’s many road reserves, parliament’s presidential affairs committee holds a kangaroo court, generates ” a court order and warrant of demolition” and there and then without caring to hear the condemned structure’s owner’s side of the story.

When I make a case for Bigirimana’s right to a fair hearing, friends and fiends alike are quick to counsel and warn me on how it is offensive to public morality to defend a man who has been held culpable by the court of mob justice.

It’s on the basis of my understanding of Ugandans’ appreciation of fairness that I don’ t find Mr Odokorach blameworthy in his name calling agenda because as far as he is concerned, to express and to espouse a point of view divergent from his, tantamount to “defending the undefendable and white-washing scandal”.

The thread that weaves through my argument is that in today’s Uganda we live amidst such heightened stigma that when an allegation is made against an individual, it is also the natural thing for that individual to prove their innocence contrary to the well known doctrine of presumption of innocence.

CIVIC OBLIGATION

It is not any more a civic obligation of a decision maker as demanded by the rules of natural justice, to refrain from pre-emptive commentary about the perceived conduct of those who are destined to appear before them.

The trait thing is that when i am accused of wrong doing, I am invited to a fair and impartial decision making body where I am accorded audience to palliate my conduct but in Uganda, the general rule is that as soon as I am acused, all the would-be judges in my case, come out wildly in the print and electronic media condemning me before hearing my side of the story. Ultimately, the result is that an otherwise well intentioned agenda degenerates into a “pull him down” scheme.

Any jurisdiction, developed or transiting, would call this mob justice which has never been friends with the rules of natural justice.

It’s these rules of natural justice which i am sure Odokorach covered in law School at a very basic and elementary level, that impose on us a duty exercise restraint and “zip up” if it appears to us that a matter in the public domain is tempting us to make pre-emptive commentary yet, at the same time, the same matter is bound to come before us for our decision as an impartial quasi-judicial body.

Committees of parliament, for example,brag that they have powers of the High Court. How i wish these mps were alive to the fact that no High Court Judge enjoys the luxury of giving pre-emptive camera interviews on a matter where they are bound to sit in judgment!!!22

This, in my humble view, is the culture of restraint, care, caution, due diligence and utmost good faith imposed upon us by the rules of natural justice. Surprisingly I take offence with Mr Odokorach’s crucifixion of me but I’m prepared to defend to my grave his right to do so.

In my article which is now a subject of spirited attack by Mr Odokorach,i did argue and I reiterate that as far as Bigirimana is concerned, all the audit report does is; raise audit queries which by their very nature, are routine questions which duty bind the accounting officer to substantiate to Parliament through the instrumentality of PAC whenever accounting lapses are discovered in the accountability trail. This is neither morally sinful nor foreign to the accounting culture in government.

I am relentless in my argument that we should accept to draw a distinction between audit queries on the one hand and outright theft-where a man’s hand is caught in the till,on the otherhand.

Outright theft is actionable per se, which is what has happened to Kazinda and his ilk but audit queries are subject to internal administrative sanctions. Natural justice demands that PAC members exercise restraint and wait for everybody implicated in the OPM fraud scam to appear before them to substantiate whatever aspect of the audit report they care to draw to his/her attention.

Parliament

If Parliament would for once refrain from chorus indictments and convictions of guilt before the accused persons plead guilty or are proved guilty, this Country would make great strides in generating building blocks for a culture of zero tolerance to corruption.

By neglecting to contextualise my assessment of the audit report,Mr Odokorach unfairly schemed to portray me as a blind Bigirimana apologist. The audit report on page 10, bullet 6.1.1(c), pattacks a one Yawe Tonny and Okello Wilber for fraudulently transferring 14.8bn from PRDP to “crisis management and recovery program” account . It demonstrates in no uncertain terms that this was outright fraud on the part of those named officials. On page 11 of the report, evidence of deliberate cover up of fraud is unveiled whereby the transfer of the 14.8bn is solely attributed to Ministry of finance officials who cunningly named this illicit as a donation by the Irish government for crisis management program activities in Karamoja whereas it was not. The report clearly accuses Mugisha David of MOFPED, Bright Atwine of Treasury services department, the commissioner TSD, Mr. Bwoch, the Accountant General, Takwenda Amon of BOU.

When any fair and balanced mind reads pages 10&11 of the report, it features prominently that it was not at all humanly possible for Bigirimana to detect let alone insulate government from the kind of high level e-fraud, hatched and incubated by highly skilled information technology technocrats who were not even part of the team of officers at the OPM.

Again on pages 11 and 12 of the report it comes out clearly that 5.2bn was fraudulently transferred by named officials and Bigirimana is not mentioned.

It is, again Tonny Yawe and Wilbert Okello who the report exposes as the people having been the brain behind this fraud, none of whom is on Bigirimana’s team at the OPM.

At pages 12 and 13, bullet 6.1.1(e) the report presents indelible evidence of Irregular allocation of Bigirimana’s responsibility to Kazinda by the Ministry of Finance Data Base Administrator, a one Lubega Chris hence resulting in loss of 16,222,877,129/= notwithstanding that approval of invoices falls within the exclusive purview of Bigirimana as the accounting officer.

It emerges from the report that a one Lubega Chris, used his know-how and information technology skill and prowess to fraudulently “relieve” Bigirimana of his power and by a mere touch of the computer data base button, he allocated Bigirimana’s responsibility of approving all payment invoices to Kazinda with the result that colossal sums of money were lost behind Bigirimana’s back.

The public must be made to understand that as far as the Ministry of Finance data base is concerned, effective 1st February 2011, Kazinda Geoffrey became both the PS, OPM as well as the Principal Accountant. Simply put, as a result of the fraudulent assignment of Bigirimana’s responsibility by Lubega Chris to Kazinda, the latter would sign all payment invoices in his capacity as Principal Accountant and yet again countersign as the Permanent Secretary, Bigirimana, who he was not and who he has never been.

If Mr. Odokorach read page 13 of the report, he must have exonerated me from blame for siding with Bigirimana on account of the Auditor General’s conclusion that Treasury/Ministry of Finance as the regulator of budget and project financing, caused financial loss to government when they failed to use generic passwords in sensitive areas hence loss of money, failed to ensure timely bank reconciliations which would have enhanced detection of fraud, failed to generate internal audit of treasury systems, failed to install cameras in the UCS server room hence facilitating fraud and illicit activity.

If Mr. Odokorach ever read bullet 6.2.3.1, page16 of the report, he must have appreciated that the Auditor General faults Bank of Uganda and not Bigirimana for facilitating fraud when they cleared 61 non-cash payments totaling to a financial loss of 10,928,904,304/= without first verifying with Bigirimana, which is a condition sine quanon for clearance of non-cash payments by BOU.

Still the report exposes BOU in a sense that where an attempt at confirmation was done, BOU in isolated cases chose to confirm only with Kazinda and completely ignored and sidestepped Bigirimana not withstanding that he was the accounting officer and the principal signatory whose genuine signature was an ignition key for any non-cash payment.

Security papers

As a result, 74.5% of 473 security papers presented, totaling to 13.454bn, were designedly approved by BOU without confirming with Bigirimana. BOU designedly confirmed only with Kazinda. BOU only confirmed a pantry 10.6% with Bigirimana while 14.9% was confirmed with other officials who had completely no mandate in the line of accounting thus confirming that BOU officials illicitly relieved Bigirimana of his duty to 90% extent and they, and not Bigirimana, are solely responsible for the loss of the 13.454bn complained of. The report clearly shows that BOU neglected to verify my and the undersecretary’s signatures and as such 121 payment instructions totaling to 13,454,035,346/= were fraudulently honored by BOU when they actually bore signatures that differed from Bigirimana’s specimen signature in the possession of BOU. 80% of the payment invoices bearing forged signatures were honored by the substantive Deputy Director Banking, Mr. Milton Opio and the other 20% was originated by staff whose signatures too differed from the specimen signatures in the possession of BOU.

BOU together with MOFPED is blamed in the audit report for neglecting to close dormant accounts notwithstanding that the law requires that bank accounts which for 24 months are not operational must be closed and the credit balance thereon transferred to the consolidated fund account. As a result of BOU’s refusal to close these accounts, Kazinda had 20,171,476,505/=irregularly transferred on the Crisis Management Account which itself had been dormant since 2009.

On page 21, bullet 6.3.2 of the report, Bigirimana is queried only for not inquiring as to the source of this 20bn before authorising its expenditure.

I am sure Mr. Odokorach appreciates that the report does not say or at all remotely impute that Bigirimana misused/diverted/misappropriated or swindled any of these funds which is not at all an indication that “Bigirimana too played a role in the loss” as my learned friend Mr. Odokorach so fervently argues. The report also expresses misgivings as to why there were no work plans as the basis upon which Bigirimana utilized part of this money.

It is however to be appreciated that on page 22, bullet 6.3.3, the report acknowledges how, where, and to what extent Bigirimana utilised part of this money except that part of this money, ie, 4,661,563,438/= and 980,000,000/= was no longer available for spending as it had already been fraudulently withrawn and spent by Kazinda and the audit report takes stock of this vide bullet 6.3.3.1, page 23.

It would thus be extremely unfair for Mr. Odokorach to say that any query in any accounting period should automatically lead to the interdiction/resignation of an accounting officer.

If this were to be applied across the board, my conscience defends me in the assertion that no ministry in the Republic of Uganda would have a PS in its service because whatsoever accounting officer has a series of audit queries. What is critical, in my view, is; arising from the audit report, has the responsible accounting officer substantiated the queries to the satisfaction of PAC?

Paragraph, page 23 of the report queries Bigirimana for spending money on procurement of motor vehicles and the hydra form machines yet prior to receiving these funds there was indication of already subsisting contracts for the procurement of those goods and services.

The audit report however recognises that this query can only be resolved in the context of the assurances from the PS MOFPED that funds would be available by way of a supplementary budget on the basis whereof OPM entered into contracts for supply of motor vehicles and hydra form machines in the thinking that the supplementary would be forth coming.

Bigirimana explained that this supplementary funding did not materialize and he had to use his proactive domain to call to his help these funds, which to him had become part and parcel of the OPM resource envelop.

Under bullet 6.3.3.2 page 23, the audit report raises a query as to why Bigirimana authorised cash withdrawals. Here, Bigirimana explained that the point to take into account is that cash withdrawals and deposits on individual accounts is a cross cutting culture and practice in all ministries and departments of government and the penalty for it, if any, should spare nobody.

Public servants, on whose Individual accounts this money was credited are named in the report. The report also does make mention of how much was credited thereon and for what purpose. The pivotal question would be; is there accountability on how and for what purpose this money was spent?

If the answer emerges as NO, the responsible individual, be it Bigirimana or any other should be made to explain themselves and whosoever does not do so to the satisfaction of PAC should face the wrath of the law, as simple as that. Key on this query which Mr. Odokorach forgets to bring out is the fact that the report acknowledges on page 23, bullet 6.3.3.2, that the queried cash withdrawal of 3,237,987,522/=has way above half of it, ie, 1,775,404,796/= as a component of money withdrawn and utilised by Kazinda on the strength of forged and unverified signatures. Mr. Odokorach queries Bigirimana for making transfers to other accounts however, he misses bullet 6.3.3.3,page 23 of the report which clearly attributes this transgression to a one Oonyu Isaiah, a cashier.

The report acknowledges on page 26, bullet 6.3.6 that a total of 34,610,365,101/= was deposited on personal accounts and evidence of that payment went missing courtesy of the principal Accountant ferrying files out of office. There are police statements from OpM lower ranks attesting to the fact that Kazinda ferried and or caused to be ferried to private destinations,files that bore these queried receipts.

The fault Mr. Odokorach attributes to Bigirimana is in complete disregard of bullet 6.3.6.1 and bullet 6.3.6.2 page 27 of the report both of which take stock of monies to the tune of 2,916,833,943/= which are recoverable from two named cashiers. The entire bullet 6.3.6.3, page 28 of the report faults officers other than Bigirimana for false accounting.

From the above analysis, it is my considered submission that my learned friend, Mr. Odokorach did not put my article in its proper and exhaustive context for if he had so done, he too would have agreed with me that Bigirimana has no accusation of financial impropriety to his name.


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