JINJA – Police in Jinja are holding a man who allegedly swindled money meant to pay agents who were protecting President Yoweri Museveni’s vote during the January 14 general elections.
Mr George Kintu who was charged with delivering cash to Busoga region from the NRM’s Office of the National Chairman, has been arrested and detained at Nalufenya police station, for stealing money meant for agents.
Mr Kintu who works with the Office of National Chairman was found with an exhibit of sh25 million out of over sh100 million of undelivered money, leaving some party agents in the region complaining for non-payment.
The matter of agents complaining of not being paid was raised by Karamoja minister Moses Kizige during a cabinet meeting. Mr Kizige said agents received only sh30,000 instead of sh100,000 per day.
ONC moved to issue an arrest warrant for two of its officers who were charged with payments in Busoga, but stole and shared half of the money amongst themselves.
Mr Kintu’s accomplice, Ms Norah Bamutaze, is still on the run, and police are hunting for her to recover millions she allegedly swindled.
Ms Bamutaze signed the money for vote protection for Busoga region from Mr Habib Sseruwagi, Head of Operations at ONC on January 12 at 10am. She was meant to deliver the packed money to Jinja’s Speke Courts on the same day, to enable coordinators in Busoga receive appointment letters and their allowances.
However, Bamutaze arrived the following day in Jinja at 1am.
“Does it take more than a day to go to Jinja?” Asked Seruwagi.
By the time she arrived in Jinja, the money which had been sealed had been unpacked and placed in envelopes.
Yet even some of the bundles of money were missing.
“All the money to all other areas across the country reached safely without interference, apart from the one handed to Ms Norah Bamutaze,” said Mr Seruwagi.
Bamutaze was supposed to summon 12 ONC district officials including DISO, RDC, NRM chairman and ONC coordinator and make a hand over their parcels.
The team that investigated the matter led by Hon Saleh Kamba, reported that each bundle was less by 10% of the money and several bundles were missing. On top of that, Bamutaze demanded for kickbacks from coordinators.
When Kamba realized Bamutaze had swindled a lot of money, and she was on the run, Police was involved her hunt.
Watchdog website spoke to Ms Bamutaze via telephone and denied any wrongdoing. She said she delivered the money to the zonal leaders including Mr Kintu. She said she was only assigned to deliver money in Buyende and Kamuli districts.
However, reports indicate that Kamuli NRM poll agents have been complaining about nonpayment, saying Bamutaze only made half payments.
This is not the first time, Bamutaze is cited in such scandals. Reports indicate that she worked as a vet doctor at President Museveni’s Kisozi farm and was sacked for selling the President’s milk. She was later recruited to work for the office of the National Chairman in Kyambogo, only to fall in the same trap.
Speaking to ONC administrator, Mr Faruk Kirunda, he admitted that some of the officers in his office did not follow guidelines and that is why arrests are ongoing. He said whereas all the money across the country reached safely, Busoga turned out a disaster because of Bamutaze and Kintu.
“Police have arrested Kintu, but we are looking for Norah,” he noted, adding that, their interest as the office is to recover the money from the errant officials.
Mr Kirunda said despite a few glitches in Busoga region, vote protection work went on well. He said that NRM was able to deploy poll agents at all polling stations and that is why all original DR forms have been secured and safely in their custody.
“We have all DR forms in our custody which means we carried on the work as assigned. However, we had some issues in some 12 districts whereby some officials who were given money to deliver to particular districts, failed to execute the work as assigned. Among districts which were affected include: Wakiso, Rukungiri, Gomba, Butambala, Sironko, Ngora among others, where money has been recovered and the process is underway to pay everyone,” Mr Kirunda added.
He however called upon officers who misused the money of the party to return it immediately before they are arrested.
“Our aim is not arrests, but we want the party money to be delivered to the people who did the work,” Kirunda said, adding, “We still have some seven senior cadres who were responsible for supervision of zones who are yet to be cleared.”
Kirunda explained that “these senior cadres are going to be paid as soon as possible because their budgets were affected when we experienced challenges of diversion of funds by some coordinator in Kira Division, Wakiso district.”
He said, at least four persons were deployed at each polling station including two poll agents, one supervisor and a tally assistant across the country.
Kirunda said if the officers return the money, no charges will be preferred against them.
He also apologized for not deploying many people to protect Museveni’s votes because of the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health Covid-19 guidelines which barred many people convening at polling stations.