By Edward Anyoli
THE former NSSF board chairman, Geoffrey Onegi- Obel yesterday started his defence and denied causing loss of sh8b loss to government.
Onegi- Obel defended the project of constructing 5000 housing estates units saying it was a viable and profitable to the low income earners.
Obel told Anti- Corruption Court presided over by Justice Margaret Tibulya that if the project had not been stopped by Inspectorate of Government Ugandans would have enormously benefited from it.
“The management was satisfied that the monetary return was above the market price and social returns were much needed by Ugandans,” Onegi- Obel said.
Onegi- Obel who was being led by his lawyer said if he knew that his action to go into joint venture with Mugoya Construction Company would cause loss, the project would have been stopped forthwith.
trueFormer board chairman, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Onegi- Obel listens to one of his lawyers, Francis Gimara at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo on 10th July 2014. PHOTO/Maria Wamala
Onegi- Obel told court that the project was stopped within three months after it had just started on recommendation of Inspectorate of Government.
The former NSSF boss during intense cross- examination by director of legal affairs from IGG office, Sydney Asubo, denied violating procurement procedures saying by the time NSSF went into joint ventures with Mugoya Construction procurement laws had not come into force .
“ As the board we did comply with management to obtain all the necessary advice and clearances which were required at the time project was being implemented,” Onegi - Obel said.
Onegi- said he was shocked to see that such a profitable project being stopped yet a lot of benefits would have accrued from it.
Court heard that Mugoya Construction Company was to contribute an equity of 51% and that NSSF was to contribute 41% . The project was supposed to be done in phases at a cost of sh16b.
The charges against Onegi-Obel were instituted in 2010. The IGG said he committed the offences between 2004 and 2005.
The funds the IGG said were pilfered during transactions in which NSSF, through a company called Premier, entered a joint venture with Mugoya, Estates Ltd a private business company.
The venture involved a plan to construct 5000 housing units by Nsimbe Holdings Ltd.
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Onegi- Obel denies causing loss of sh8b to NSSF