THE office of the Inspector General of Government (IGG) has been implicated in flouting procurement regulations in the purchase of land belonging to Posta Uganda
By Vision Reporter
THE office of the Inspector General of Government (IGG) has been implicated in flouting procurement regulations in the purchase of land belonging to Posta Uganda.
The land in question is a 1.2- acre piece located on plots 24-26 on Clement Hill Road and plots 71-75 on Yusuf Lule Road in the centre of Kampala.
The land is located next to Postel building which houses the Prime Minister’s offices and is currently used as a car park.
In a recent interview, Posta Uganda boss, James Arinaitwe disclosed that Posta Uganda was under immense pressure from former employees, whom the company owed a lot of money. The group dragged Posta to court, which ruled in the employee’s favour, Arinaitwe explained.
When Posta delayed to pay its former employees, auctioneers on March 4, 2011 advertised their building as up for sale.
In urgent need of money, Posta Uganda on August 12 wrote to Bageine and Company Limited instructing them to lease the empty plot of land on its behalf. Bageine, who among other things deals in real estate, wrote back on the same day, giving sh5.4b as the value of the land if it were to be leased for 99 years.
Eight days after two adverts calling for bids on September 23 and October 10, the Inspectorate expressed interest in the land.
“The parcel of land that is to be disposed of by Uganda Posts Limited through you is ideal for the purpose of the Inspectorate of Government’s construction of an office building. This, therefore, serves to express our interest to purchase the land and notify you of our offer to purchase both of the two advertised adjacent plots for our immediate use at a cost of Uganda Shillings Five Billion,” Glory Agun, wrote on behalf of the IGG’s office on October 20.
Then in what authorities say was illegal, the IGG, Raphael Baku Obdura on October 22 wrote to Bageine and asked that the bidding process for other competitors to purchase the same land be halted.
“We refer to your letter of 22nd October 2010 (ref. BCL/CORR/2010) informing me that the reserve price of entire 1.2 acre parcel of land comprised in Plots 67-71 (A+B), is Ush. 5, 400, 000,000 (Uganda Shillings Five Billion Four Hundred Million Only),” Baku wrote.
“This is to acknowledge receipt of your offer and to confirm that we accept the stated price. We shall be grateful if you halt the on-going bidding process with a view to concluding the transaction with us at the earliest opportunity.”
It is not clear how Bageine got to know of the IGG’s interest in the land to write to them directly and whether there was collusion or not as alleged.
After inspecting the site, on December 1, 2010, the Government valued the at sh4.9b. Sources claimed that by the Igg Baku halting the advertising and bidding process denied Posta a higher amount as there was no competition.
In recent interviews, both Baku and Arinaitwe deny any wrong doing or collusion. Arinaitwe argued that procurement regulations have a clause that allows Government institutions to deal directly with each other, without competitive bidding.
Moreover, he adds, the transaction would yield money to pay the former employees and more for development projects.
Citing an unsuccessful attempt to buy a city structure currently occupied by the Uganda Police Force, Baku said he wanted to avoid unfair competition from private companies.
Although the Inspectorate had reportedly claimed immunity from investigation by the Police, the Attorney General in an October 4 opinion to Police investigators stated that occupants of the IGG’s office were not exempt to investigation.
The letter signed by Peter Nyombi seen by New Vision argued that the immunity from civil or criminal prosecution is related to “acts done in the course of the performance of its (office) functions”. The functions, he noted, are spelt out in Article 225 of the Constitution and section 8 of the Inspectorate of Government Act.
“The above immunity, therefore, does not extend to the other acts done by the office of the IGG, which are to specifically benefit the office of the IGG,” he argued, citing purchase or sale of property for the office of the IGG and accountability for funds received.
Such acts like land transactions, Nyombi pointed out, were subject to the laws relating to public finance, National Audit Act, Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and others “from which the IGG is not exempt”.
“Accordingly, the office of the IGG is only exempt from prosecution or investigation for acts done in the course of performance of its functions. The exemption does not extend to such (procurement) acts done by the office of the IGG, which personally benefit that office,” he wrote.
“Since it is a public office, it subject to the same scrutiny and accountability measures that are imposed on all public offices.”
In a November 17 letter to the Inspector General of Police, the internal affairs ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. P. S Kagoda said: “In view of the guidance given by the Attorney General, I am of the opinion that the Police act now. Please keep us informed.”
IGG implicated in land buying irregularities