Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, the Head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit has tipped Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) officers and trainees on strategies that can be used to end corruption in Uganda.
Gen. Isoke says the National Development Plan III has identified key drivers of corruption including weak public sector management and administration, inadequate operating standards and weak institutional structure anf nadequate/inappropriate controls.
Others, he listed poor remunerations, ineffective Anti-Corruption agencies, weak judiciary, weak national value system and aculture of impunity and moral decadence.
Isoke told students that the effects of corruption are evident for all Ugandans to see and the one most of them encounter on a daily basis is the resultant failure in service delivery caused by corruption.
Other effects of corruption cited by Isoke include government’s capacity to deliver services and this is reflected in the haphazard works, roads in disrepair, and lack of medicines in government hospitals, to mention a few.
“Even worse, these failures in service delivery affect the poor who mostly rely on the government for social services thereby exacerbating inequality,” he said, adding that corruption has the effect of reducing the trust and confidence the citizens have in government and can ultimately result in them withdrawing their consent to be governed, a breakdown in social cohesion and ultimately insecurity.” It is therefore a security risk”.
On strategies for fighting corruption, Isoke said that since 1986, the NRM government has implemented several reforms towards fighting corruption, including the passing of enabling legislation and policies, as well as putting in place institutions to deal with the vice.
Among the legislated include; The Constitution, The Local Government Act, Budget Act, The Leadership Code Act, The Public Finance and Accountability Act, The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, The Access to Information Act, The Anti-Corruption Act, The Whistle Blowers Act, The Anti-Money Laundering Act, among others.
He also said existing institutions have been strengthened and others put in place to operationalize these legal provisions.
Among these include; the Office of the Auditor General(2008), Inspectorate of Government(1988), Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI,), Public Service Inspection Unit, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP,1962), Public Procurement and Disposal of public assets Authority (PPDA,2003), Anti-Corruption Court(2008), Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA,2014), State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH-ACU,2018) and Leadership Code Tribunal (LCT,1995).
Isoke also noted that the government has also pursued policies that increase transparency in government planning, such as decentralization in which citizens participate in most of the government projects, including budget processes.
“In government has put in place a number of fiscal public finance reforms that have seen the use of Information Communication Technology, e.g Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP), among others,” said Isoke adding;
“While the fight against corruption rages on, the majority of Ugandans have largely played a passive role, yet the vice of corruption affects the entire community. The public is mandated to take part in the fight against corruption under; the Mandate of the Public, Article 17 (1) (i) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, which provides that it is a duty of a citizen “to combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public property.”
More recently, the government has adopted additional approaches in fighting corruption, including;
-Enhancing the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) which create trails for audit purposes, eliminates human to human transactions as corruption thrives on this. The government has successfully used ICT for visa and passport services and as such, a big number of citizens have received their passports without incurring the costs of middlemen.
-Enhancing citizen participation, till recently, the majority of the population looked at the fight against corruption as only a duty for the mandated Anti-corruption agencies. The SH-ACU has endeavoured to reach out to the public to participate in the struggle. Currently, we have a 24/7 active call center.
-Massive sensitization programs to members of the public to awaken them to participate in governance matters and be empowered to demand high standards of service from the government.
Isoke also lectured about the roles played by State House Anti-corruption (SH-ACU) In fighting corruption saying that in line with its Strategic Plan 2020-2022, SH-ACU focuses on the following five strategic areas to combat corruption.
-Prevention/Compliance: Facilitating interventions that stop acts of corruption, Through;
a. Public information of budget releases.
b. Supporting the government institutions to monitor MDA work plans.
c. Procurement plans.
d. Sharing on successful corruption prosecutions to discourage impunity.
e. Naming and shaming the corrupt.
-Detection: This strategy focuses on the ability to tell the occurrence of acts of corruption in MDAs. This involves anonymous reporting through a wide range of platforms, liaisons and information sharing with other government agencies responsible for the detection and prevention of corruption.
SH-ACU comprises multidimensional disciplines drawn from the military, police and civilian sectors.
He also mentioned some of the SH-ACU’s achievements in the last couple of years;
-Over Ugx. 35Bn recovered and saved
-Over 600 distressed Ugandans returned from the Middle East
-319,842 complaints processed
-365 accused persons arraigned in court
-48 persons convicted
Isoke also cited some of the roles of Police play in the war against corruption;
SH-ACU has a CID police section that does investigations and arrests of suspects.
-Crime scene Management and Evidence Collection – For any matter to succeed in Court how the scene is managed and how evidence is collected are key especially with the sophistication of corruption through the use of ICT where digital forensics is now key. This is to ensure rules of evidence are complied with and evidence is not tampered with.
-Arrest and Detention – once investigations prove a case against a person such a person may evade arrest and the Police place the crucial role of apprehending him and arraigning him in court
-Court Testimony – To persuade the court to rule in your favour how testimony is given is key. Police Investigators must convince the court through clear and precise testimony
-Exhibit Management and Storage – The success of the case depends on the management and storage of exhibits collected.
-Search and Rescue – Searches have to be conducted in line with rules of evidence to ensure that the evidence collected is not thrown out.
-Interview and Statement Recording – A successful interview should lead to pertinent information and the Police Detective should be able to get from the witness such pertinent information
-Case File Management – How a Police file is managed is key to the success of a case. From how its compiled, and minuted, evidence is included and how its safeguarded to avoid the removal of vital evidence.
-Whistleblower Protection – You know some corrupt people may stop at nothing to hide their crimes and may want to harm the witnesses involved and in our current arrangement Police also has the role of witness protection.
-Secure Forensic Evidence – With the increased use of ICT systems. Corruption crimes have become digitalised. Gov’t has deployed many ICT systems and evidence from such systems should be collected and secured by specialists from the Police Forensic Directorates.
He could not end the lecture before talking about how the directorate of forensic services collaborates with SH-ACU to fight corruption;
-The forensic department helps the officers attached to the SH-ACU with analyzing documents that are used in court to prove cases.
-The department also helps us image mobile phones of our suspects to tell their communication trail and this helps us retrieve some of the required evidence.
-They also help with computer data extraction from suspected computers, analyze the data and reduce it to admissible evidence for court.
-They help the unit read questioned chassis numbers on suspected motor vehicles.
In conclusion, Isoke told students that they should work together and move away from finger-pointing to collective action in the fight against corruption.
“Be patriots and remove the last obstacle to our development. You owe it to your country,” said Isoke adding;
“See something, say something. -And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 The war on Corruption is winnable.”