By Steven Candia
POLICE on Friday questioned Dr Pius Achanga, a Senior Higher Education Officer at the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) as part of mega probe into the Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho academic transcript saga that has wedged the council apart.
Achanga fresh from an international education conference in Mombasa turned up at the criminal investigations and intelligence directorate (CIID) headquarters, Kibuli in the morning, following police summons and was quizzed for over six hours.
He was however left to go after 3:00pm but only after recording a statement and after detectives taking his specimen handwriting and signature.
Achanga’s date with the police mainly dwelt the December 4, 2013 top NCHE management meeting that purportedly cleared Joho’s papers given that Achanga as per documents earlier submitted to police by Prof. John Opuda Asibo, the NCHE Executive Director indicate that Achanga acted as secretary of the meeting.
It is suspected that a bulk of the documents including the minutes of the said meeting, already disowned by a bulk of those who reportedly attended could have been “cooked.”
The probe into the clearance of the papers is part of a wider inquiry into a suspicious degree awarded by Kampala University (KU) Joho in 2009.
Upon arrival Achanga who also doubles as the care taker of the department of accreditation and quality assurance faced off with a panel of two top fraud busters who also asked him to shed light on the procedure by council while clearing academic documents and which organ is vested with such mandate.
His interrogation came hardly two days after the Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee (A&QAC) of NCHE headed by Dr. John Ssenyonyi on Wednesday held another stormy meeting over the Joho scam, amid firm instructions to all in attendance not to talk to the media.
More than a week ago the police swooped on the NCHE offices, arresting Opuda who is caught up in the vortex of the Joho academic clearance saga, with sections at the body distancing themselves from it, accusing him of acting unilaterally.
The meeting and Fridays interrogations also came amid reports of alleged behind the scenes manoeuvres by sections of the NCHE top management to support Opuda and also to scuttle the police investigations, now perceived to be denting the image of the body.
“He appeared, recorded a statement and was left to go,” Grace Akullo the director CIID said when contacted later.
Achanga’s appearance at Kibuli also came only days after the police for the second time quizzed Ambassador Nyeko Acato, the NCHE director Human Resource and Phenny Birungi, the NCHE director research development and documentation, all who reportedly attended the meeting over the matter.
Though the police remained tight lipped on details of the interaction, sources in the know said Achanga informed detectives that the top management meeting which was preceded by two other meetings never discussed the clearance of Joho’s papers.
It is suspected that the papers were irregularly cleared in bid to wriggle Joho out of scam, spawned by the suspected fraudulent acquisition of a Bachelor of Business Administration (Human Resource Management Option) degree to Joho.
The saga has driven a wedge between Opuda and Senyonyi on the other hand though there are some unconfirmed reports of clandestine manoeuvres by some of the officials to defeat justice.
The CIID early this month forwarded to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) a damning report, pointing out huge contradictions in Joho’s documents, strongly suggesting fraud and accusing the top management of both NCHE and the university of complicity in a cover up among others.
Police quiz top NCHE official over Joho saga