KAMPALA – A whistleblower complaint filed before the President’s Office lifted the lid on the current troubles at the Equal Opportunities Commission, with the Chairperson Ms Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, now facing charges of corruption too.
Ms Ntambi joins the institution’s accounting officer, and eight other senior staff earlier charged with the same offences.Ms Ntambi, was on Tuesday added to the charge sheet as A10 before the Anti-Corruption Court in the case where nine other officials of the commission have been undergoing trial, charged with defrauding the government of millions of shillings.
Ms Muwebwa was charged in absentia in the Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. She was represented by her lawyers who pledged to present her before court on September 30 to take plea.The charges are as a result of a May 22, 2019 complaint to President Museveni about several staff issues at the commission, with the whistleblower lifting the lid on corrupt practices at the Commission, that were later investigated by the State House Anti-Corruption Commission.
“It was the source of all problems we are facing now and already, many senior officials have been facing court since last year,” a senior official said on Thursday.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has added Ms Muwebwa to the charge sheet that already has Mr Mujuni Mpitsi, the Secretary to the Commission; Olwor Sunday Nicholas, the Undersecretary; Moses Mugabe, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Byangire Harriet, a Senior Accountant. Others are: Edith Kamahoro, a Senior Personal Secretary; Kwesiga Ronnie, an Accounts Assistant; Jjemba Evans, the Principle Compliance Officer; Kwihangana Manasseh, a Senior Compliance Officer and Sarah Nassanga an Office Attendant.All the 9 officials were charged before the same court last year and have been undergoing trial.
According to the full details of the charge sheet presented before the court in Kololo, the officials face 25 corruption-related cases ranging from causing financial loss, conspiracy to defraud, embezzlement, corruption and abuse of office.Ms Ntambi, Ms Kamahoro and Mr Mpitsi between January 6, 2019 and April 30, 2019, allegedly conspired to defraud the government of more than Shs 9m.
Under the charge of abuse of office, Mr Mugabe, Mr Mpitsi and Mr Kwihangana are accused of abusing their authority when they fraudulently processed, requisitioned and approved Shs29m in January 2019 purportedly for undertaking sensitisation programmes in Karamoja sub-region whereas not.
In a separate count, Ms Kamahoro, Mr Mpitsi, and Mr Olwor in December 2018, allegedly processed, requisitioned and approved Shs19m purportedly for development of the first and second draft of Equal Opportunities Commission HIV/Aids workplace policy, knowing their acts would cause government a financial loss.
Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House, is quoted by CEO Magazine as confirming the charges, after an investigation ordered by the President.
The development is a setback in the fight against corruption given that the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is a government agency that is mandated to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual in state institutions.