The State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) headed by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema on Tuesday arrested four of the nine staff in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) implicated in the procurement of substandard food and non-food supplies worth sh10b meant for the Kasese flood victims.
The arrest follows a directive from the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja to the head of SHACU Col. Edith Nakalema to investigate the matter.
Godfrey Kayima, the Accounting Officer, Rose Nakabugo the acting Commissioner Disaster, Esther Majorine Odongo (Procurement Officer) and Henry Agaba Tumwine the Internal Auditor were confirmed arrested on Tuesday by Kampala Metropolitan police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire.
Last month Nabbanja who was on a tour of the flood-affected victims in Kasese directed for the immediate blacklisting of a company that supplied Government substandard blankets and mosquito nets that were supposed to be supplied to flood victims in the area.
The Prime Minister also questioned the quality of beans that had been given to the flood victims, saying that they were equally poor and not good for human consumption.
Nabbanja directed the officials responsible for procurement of the substandard items to be held liable, and ordered they organise another assortment by the close of business on Wednesday for delivery.
“The relief items are substandard; therefore, I have directed that let the nets and the blankets be returned back to Kampala because they are substandard, other items are okay we can use them but we are going to seat with the relevant ministers and assess the situation,” Nabbanja noted.
Nabbanja unearthed the fraud in the exaggerated number of the displaced affected persons and the substandard relief items that were supposed to be supplied.
“The number they reported is not the number I have seen there. They are fewer. I am refusing the blankets. They should go back to Kampala and we buy better things. We cannot supply these fake things to the people. That company is blacklisted and the staff who allowed the procurement of the fake items will be held responsible and might even lose their job,” Nabbanja said.
She noted that the blankets were extremely light and they could not serve their intended purpose and that the nets were too small for someone to use.
In April last year, four senior officials in the office of the Prime Minister were arrested and handed over to the criminal investigations department by the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House over inflating COVID-19 relief food prices. The four included then Permanent secretary, Christine Guwatudde Kintu, undersecretary Joel Wanjala, assistant commissioner for procurement, Fred Lutimba and commissioner for disaster management, Martin Owor. There cases are still ongoing in court.