Shs 88bn Pension Fund Theft: Shock as Assessors Advise Court to Exonerate Obey, Lwamafa

ACCUSED: Christopher Obey and Jimmy Lwamafa

Assessors have asked Anti Corruption High Court in Kampala to declare innocent and set free three former senior Public Service Commission officials facing corruption charges.

Jimmy Lwamafa, sildenafil former Permanent secretary of the ministry, prostate Christopher Obey, treat former Principal Accountant and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, former Commissioner Compensation Department, are facing 10 counts that include causing financial loss, abuse of office, false accounting, conspiracy to defraud and diversion of public funds.

Prosecution alleges the trio caused financial loss to government when they purported to have remitted Shs 88bn to National Social Security Fund (NSSF) on behalf of public service whereas as not.

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Public servants also are not supposed to contribute to the fund.

However, in their advice to court, the assessors identified as Vincent Okech and Stanley Kurong submitted that prosecution has not adduced enough evidence  pinning these three officials to have ever discussed paying NSSF  for public  servants between financial years; 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.

They further explained that the accused only requisitioned for funds for gratuity and pension of teachers, soldiers and beneficiaries of the East African Community but not NSSF.

The assessors’ views could shock the public that has patiently waited for a verdict that will see them recover the lost funds.

It is understood the assessors’ opinion is not binding as the judge may choose to ignore it depending on a number of other factors.

How it started

In early 2010, a team of Public Service Ministry officials approached the Ministry of Finance with a smart and detailed requisition for Shs 44bn to be paid to NSSF as their employees’ contribution for financial year 2010/2012.

The Finance Ministry which is the custodian of all public finance policies and knows very well public servants do not contribute to NSSF didn’t detect the flaw but approved the request for the huge sum amount of money to be given to Public Service for the ghost exercise.

After approval by the Finance Ministry, the request was then sent to Parliament charged with the responsibility of appropriating funds to ministries, departments and agencies.

Interestingly, Parliament, a body that makes and amends laws failed to detect the error before going ahead to appropriate the funds.

Eventually, the Ministry of Finance released Shs 44bn to the Public Service which was spent.

As if that was not enough, the same officials from the Ministry of Public Service returned in the next financial year of 2011/2012 and asked for the same amount of money that was equally approved and appropriated by Finance and Parliament respectively, hitting the Shs 88bn mark.

Five years later, during a PAC meeting, MPs and officials from Ministry of Finance faced each other and traded accusations on who aided the criminal transactions.

The Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi who led the Finance officials admitted that both his Ministry and Parliament made mistakes in the Shs 88bn fraud with the money ending up in the hands of fraudsters.

He, however, added that Parliament should carry the bigger blame since it failed to block the allocation.

“We both (Finance and Parliament) share the blame but Parliament as the appropriation body should have blocked the allocation of that money,” said Muhakanizi.

Trial Judge Lawrence Gidudu has set November 11 as the date on which he will deliver his judgment in this high profile case.

The accused persons are facing before the same court 21 other counts including diversion of public funds, theft, forgery of judicial documents and conspiracy to defraud Government of Shs 15.4bn alongside city advocate Bob Kasango before the same court.

The trio has been sent back to Luzira Prison until the judgement date.


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