By Faustine Odeke
Five officials in Malaba town, Tororo district have abandoned their offices after withdrawing over sh150m from the council’s accounts.
Town clerk Philip Gonzaga Opolot, his deputy, Samuel Baker Okalany, auditor Wycliffe Zehireyo, clerk to council Osilo Onau and the town engineer, Charles Malinde, have not appeared for duty since August 9.
Last week, the Inspectorate of Government raided the town council, demanding accountability for the money.
Town clerk deputy Okalany confirmed receiving the money, saying they used it to clear their outstanding arrears. He said they are ready to account for it.
The officials also fear for their lives following last Monday’s incident where revenue collectors at the trailer parking yard stormed the council offices and held the treasurer, Gabriel Ochwo hostage as they demanded for their salary arrears.
The LCIII chairman, George Obore said the withdrawal of the funds without council’s approval has brought business to a standstill.
Obore said the town clerk and his team withdrew the money after realizing that Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) had deposited sh240m in arrears to property tax.
He explained further that the money would have been used to complete construction of the council’s office block, collect garbage and grade the roads.
Saturday Vision learnt that the officials paid themselves sh69m as arrears, while other monies were spent on activities like fumigation and payment for ‘further studies’.
Opolot, Okalany and Zehireyo have been out of office since 2006. They returned to office four months ago after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) lost interest in a case of abuse of office and embezzlement that the Inspectorate of Government was pursuing against them.
On Friday, a council meeting to discuss the fate of the implicated officers flopped due to lack of quorum.