A source privy to the probe said: “The managers are under physical protective measures. Their lives are in danger.” “They are giving crucial evidence in the probe where money is suspected to have been siphoned and later allegedly laundered with the help of key government officials,” he added.
PROBE | ELECTRICITY | REA
Two top managers at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) have been placed under special protection over alleged emerging security threats to their lives, New Vision has learnt.
The threats follow an ongoing Police probe into the government agency, where billions of shillings were reportedly lost in suspected dubious dealings. According to sources, the ERA officials (names withheld) are being treated as prime witnesses in the probe.
Witness protection is security provided to a threatened person providing testimonial evidence to the justice system, including defendants and other clients, before, during, and after a trial, usually by the Police.
A source privy to the probe said: "The managers are under physical protective measures. Their lives are in danger." "They are giving crucial evidence in the probe where money is suspected to have been siphoned and later allegedly laundered with the help of key government officials," he added.
It has since emerged that the Auditor General (AG) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), are jointly carrying out fresh audits of REA, spanning over 10 years, in the latest corruption probe that has hit the electricity agency.
The AG set up a special team at the request of the Police's Criminal Investigations Department (CID), to probe the alleged inflation of the amounts of money for procurements for REA projects, among other issues.
The special audit will establish how much was lost in suspected fraud linked to alleged shoddy rural electrification works that were supervised by key REA officials.
This audit will also expose project consultants and engineers linked to a suspected high-profile syndicate that has been siphoning away government funds.
According to preliminary findings, there were several inflated bills of quantities leading to the theft of funds by senior government officials, allegedly working in cahoots with some banks in Kampala. However, sources were cagey about naming the culprits.
According to sources, the audit is being done to enable prosecution in courts of law of those that could have mismanaged government funds. The mismanagement sparked a cold war amongst REA officials, with some refusing to leave office even after their tenure elapsed. Investigators said PPDA was also carrying out a forensic procurement audit.
The finance ministry gave the Police a detailed explanation regarding the money sent to REA, which detectives privy to the probe, are analysing with the help of financial experts.
The energy ministry was also asked by the Police to send details of all projects and expenditures handled by REA. Last month, Sunday Vision reported that the CID was conducting a series of investigations in REA. CID spokesperson Charles Mansio Twiine said several people, among them executive director Godfrey Turyahikayo, his deputy Godfrey Werikhe and John Turyagenda, the head of project management and implementation, have been interrogated.
The details continue to emerge after President Yoweri Museveni ordered the CID boss Grace Akullo to probe REA over allegations of corruption.
CID is investigating cases of alleged extortion, abuse of office, false accounting, embezzlement, causing financial loss and conspiracy in which some REA officials are implicated.
Sources at REA said the investigation covers the construction of powerlines implemented in Masindi, Waki- Buliisa, Kitgum, Palabek, Padibe, Lokung, Ibanda, Kazo, Rushere, Opuyo, Moroto, Kabale, Kisoro, Soroti, Katakwi, Moroto, Gulu, Acholi-bur and Nkonge-Kashozi.
Quoting documents, Sunday Vision, recently reported that REA's worst experience has been on two lines: Kabale-Kisoro, where 18 transformers out of 45 were replaced within two years of operation by the contractor at his own cost.
On the Masindi-Waki line, 16 transformers out of 56 were replaced within two years also at the contractor's cost. Without naming the manufacturers, the source said:
"The manufacturers of the transformers above have been blacklisted when it comes to REA projects."