Katakwi district officer in trouble over OPM cash

Catherine Tino (standing) explaining herself (Photo: URN)

KATAKWI DISTRICT, UGANDA: Katakwi district community development officer, Catherine Tino is under investigation over accusations of soliciting bribes from the beneficiaries of government-supported micro projects running under the Office of the Prime Minister.

There are at least 122 micro-projects being supported by the Teso Affairs ministry across the districts of Teso sub-region. In the design of the project, each selected parish is allocated Shs 30 million, which is further distributed to groups within the parish. 

Tino’s troubles started in Aleles parish in Akoboi sub-county when the group received only Shs 20 million instead of the expected Shs 30 million earlier promised and documented by the group members and district officials. The officer is again reported to have solicited between Shs 80,000 and Shs 100,000 from each group to help the members access their money from the bank in Soroti.

The unsuspecting members were told that the money was meant to facilitate the officer’s transport and lunch from Katakwi to Soroti. Information from the sub county indicates that Tino solicited from group members up to Shs 600,000 last month. But the deal turned sour when the members reported the matter to their leaders in Akoboi sub-county.

On Thursday, Akoboi sub county LC III chairperson, Jorem Obukui convened a meeting with the aggrieved group members, where Tino was also invited. Four groups including Atekwa, Acome, Ariamareng, Oriau claim that Tino forced them to pay the money while Aleles and Agurigur were also asked to pay to enable them to access the money.

Moses Okure, the chairperson of Apetosi Ibakor Sheep Rearing Group in Ariamareng village said that after withdrawing money from the bank, the officer asked for Shs 100,000 from every group.

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He says that after discussing with the members of different groups, they pleaded with Tino to at least accept Shs 80,000 from each group since the said money would affect the planned implementation of the group activities. Annet Anyait, another beneficiary says that Tino has cunning language and wants her punished.

Jorem Obukui, the LC III chairperson of Akoboi wants the officer to refund the money but also asked district authorities to ensure that the officer is punished. Obuki who wanted to impound the office motorcycle under Tino’s custody said that there is no way an officer, fully paid and facilitated by the district can solicit money from vulnerable communities.  

While responding to the allegations against her, Tino said that she was compelled to ask for the money from beneficiaries to enable her to meet transport costs and other needs while in Soroti. She, however, said that some of the money went into bank charges.

Geoffrey Omolo, the Katakwi district LC V chairperson has asked for thorough investigations into the matter. “My office has taken note of the incident that took place at Akoboi sub county on the alleged misuse of funds meant for the community by the district staff. This is to reiterate our position that my administration strongly doesn’t condone any acts of corruption. To this effect, I have directed the office of the CAO to investigate this incident and let me informed of the steps taken to bring the officer to book,” Omolo said in a statement.  

Seraphine Alia, the chief administrative officer of Katakwi says they are investigating the matter.

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