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183 teachers confess role in sh2b fraud

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd July 2015 10:04 AM

At least sh2.3b has been stolen in the scam orchestrated by the top district personnel officials.

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At least sh2.3b has been stolen in the scam orchestrated by the top district personnel officials.

Some civil servants have been receiving 10 times what they are supposed to earn per month . . .

By John Agaba

For over 14 months, hundreds of public servants in Wakiso district were receiving salaries many times higher than what they are entitled to under their grades in a grand fraud that was unearthed recently.

At least sh2.3b has been stolen in the scam orchestrated by the top district personnel officials.

The scam bears all the characteristics of the scandal that hit the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012 in which billions of shillings were stolen. So far, 183 teachers have admitted that they benefitted from the sh2.3b payroll fraud.

According to the acting chief administrative officer (CAO), Iga Mukasa, the teachers who confessed to taking the money have expressed the intention of returning it. However, at least 282 headteachers and teachers have been implicated.

In addition, an unspecified number of health workers and Wakiso district headquarters staff in the personnel, finance and IT departments have also been implicated, according to sources.

The sources also said they cannot rule out the possibility that some councilors were involved in the fraud that has been referred to the Inspector General of Government for further investigations. It is also suspected that similar fraud could be prevalent in many other districts.

Patrick Mutabwire, the local government ministry’s acting permanent secretary, yesterday handed over a copy of the audit report containing details of the alleged fraud to Iga Mukasa for action.

“You cannot defraud Government and not get caught,” Mutabwire told the meeting attended by the district staff, including town clerks and subcounty chiefs.

Although he did not release the report to the media, Mutabwire explained that a payroll verification exercise by the public service ministry had unearthed the fraud in the district, with some employees receiving 10 times what they are supposed to earn per month.

“You would find someone who is supposed to get sh400,000 per month, earning sh4m. They have been robbing the country for 14 months,” said Mutabwire.

Mutagwire handing over the Wakiso district audit report on ghost payments to Iga Mukasa on June 21, 2015 as Lwanga Bwanika looks on. (Credit: Peter Busomoke)

According to sources, the teachers admitted to taking only 20% of the excess payments. They claimed that 80% of the money was surrendered to one Arafat Senyonga, a messenger attached to the district’s personnel department. Senyonga has allegedly since disappeared.

 Senyonga would allegedly pick the money in cash and deliver it to his bosses. He had reportedly amassed lots of wealth, despite his junior position.

The permanent secretary yesterday directed that all employees who defrauded Government refund the money by October or face action.

“We want them to return government money, then other directives can follow,” he said.

Four officials have already been interdicted. These are former CAO David Naluwayiro, the head of human resources, Haruna Ssebi; human resources officer for teachers, Jonathan Kakooza and his counterpart in charge of health and traditional service, Christine Nanyunja.

The employees were also given a week to make a written undertaking to refund the money. Mutabwire directed Mukasa to clean up the payroll.

“Some people would ask you whether you wanted to earn more money. Then they would tell you that they could triple your salary and that all you had to do is provide them with your bank details,” revealed a source at the district.

“Some people built houses using the money. They said it was ‘manna’ from heaven,” said another source.

During a meeting Tuesday, the district chairman, Matia Lwanga Bwanika, said the finance ministry should involve district leaders in the integrated financial system so that they can monitor expenditures.

Earlier, during a meeting on June 11 at the local government ministry’s boardroom, it was revealed that Waki Midu, a stores assistant at the district, who was entitled to sh235,000 per month, was being paid sh2,235,587 monthly.

Faridah Nakitende, an office assistant, who is entitled to sh490,000, was receiving sh4,900,000 monthly, while Fredrick Lukyamuzi, a headteacher was earning sh3,250,000, instead of sh700,000 per month.

However, sources suspected collusion among some officials from the finance and the public service ministries. Sources said the teachers appeared to have been targeted in the scam. The district has about 3,000 teachers.

183 teachers confess role in sh2b fraud

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