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How dubious Nigerian dealing in fake cosmetics, URA big shots cost Uganda sh15bn in tax revenue

Kampala, (UG): What started as a whistleblowers’ action, ended two operatives in Luzira Prison. This, all commenced when the two whistleblowers; Ms. Harriet Komuhimbo and Mr. Reagan Ahabwe, had reported a case at Wandegeya Police Station, SD REF: 105/16/11/2023, regarding an issue of contrabands.

Following a tip-off that a dubious Nigerian businessman, Mr Nnamdi Onwevuche, operates two stores containing contrabands in Lungujja & Kavule, on November 16, 2023, Harriet and Reagan reached to the Nigerian, upon introduction, the latter agreed to being in possession of illegal cosmetic goods.

Inspection was made, several videos captured within the two stores, amid bribing attempts by the Nigerian, but all in vain. Onwevuche had forged URA stamps and other documentation of transactions at his Lungujja home.

Immediately, the two whistleblowers sought the arrest of the Nigerian from Wandegeya Police Station amid fear that Natete Police Station, which is in the jurisdiction of the crime scene had been compromised by the foreigner.

Wandegeya Police offered to save the nation from this huge loss. To the dismay, by the time Wandegeya Police officers reached, the Nigerian had called his henchmen from Natete Police Station, hence frustrating the move.

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The Police from Wandegeya would however continue with their professional & patriotic approach, by cordoning off the Kavule store, put three officers on guard, pending the search by URA.

After several minutes of waiting, Wandegeya Police was ordered by bigwigs from Nateete Police Division to withdraw and vacate the scene.

To the surprise of many, URA, a renowned government institution in the fight against contrabands has since kept a deaf ear and a blind eye, even when the court issued an order for the search (Reference 28/11/2023).

URA Top Shots implicated

According to information obtained by this publication, it is alleged that the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) Head of Investigation, D/SSP Jackson Tweheyo, & Maj. Kasumba Musa, also concentrated efforts on arresting and slapping charges on the whistleblowers, instead of thoroughly investigating the issue, and decisively dealing with the errant Nigerian, who has caused a revenue loss of about UGX 15bn.

Previously, similar cases involving the very Nigerian businessman have been reported to URA’s Commissioner General, Mr John Musinguzi, and Col. Kasyate Frank, but attempts to arrest the Nigerian have always been sabotaged.

In addition, the entire process of how the whistleblowers were apprehended by Natete Police DPC, SP Hassan Ssekalema, using an iron hand, and failing to cooperate with his Wandegeya Police counterparts, thus frustrating the search leaves a lot of questions on the professionalism of the Police.

It’s alleged that Onwevuche, after failing to bribe the whistleblowers, decided to blackmail them, for having stolen his UGX 100M. Unfortunately, Natete Police took it as gospel truth, quickly framing a file, which ended in the courts of law.

The Court Order

The swiftness in arresting the whistleblowers, leaving the dubious Nigerian on the run, shows that money exchanged hands (kitu kidogo).

What turned a boomerang, the whistleblowers were apprehended, detained, and charged in courts of law. They were held incommunicado for 7 days, tortured, and squeezed at Kireka safehouse, not to ever interfere in the business of the unscrupulous investor.

After a couple of days, they were aligned in court on charges of criminal trespass but later released on bail.

How the dubious Nigerian brings contrabands in Uganda:

The self-imposed Nigerian cosmetic dealer has realised that there is a booming market of skin-lightening creams in the country, leading him to think fast, and quick money, not knowing he is risking the lives of some Ugandans.

This website understands that Onwevuche imports illegal cosmetic goods from France, uses the sea route to Cote d’Ivoire, and then penetrates the Ugandan market from DRC through the Mpondwe border.

He prefers the DRC because it has a porous border and the weakest customs, dominated by instability in Eastern DRC and rampant corruption. He avoids the Uganda-Kenya border because it’s automated with scanners.

What we know so far:

The fake cosmetic dealer has some of the banned products including, Mekako, Top Claire plus lotion, Beauty lotion, Claire cream, fair & white lightening cream, and Lady Claire soap, among others.

Upon realising that the public is sensitised about prohibited chemicals, the dubious businessman then alters expiry dates and puts the same illicit cosmetics on the Ugandan market.

According to Uganda Standard (US EAS 377-1:2013, there shall not be any hydroquinone or mercury in cosmetics to be used for skin applications.

Hydroquinone and mercury are common active ingredients found in numerous skin care products, especially lightening and bleaching creams, exposing the body to cancer, and causing rashes, skin discolouration & blotching.

Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent that inhibits melanin growth on the skin. Mercury compounds enter the human body by skin absorption and cause damage to vital organs, especially the kidney and liver leading to their failure.

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Regular use may also lead to allergic reactions, severe headaches, insomnia, memory loss, burning sensation of the skin, among others.

Key Facts
– Uganda has faced tremendous revenue losses through un-cleared tax collection.
– By 1986, the economy was characterized by three words; Magendo (smuggling), Kikubo (black market) and Kusamula (speculation). President explained that smuggling was the order of the day during former regimes, and as such governments were broke
– Since 1986, President Museveni has always emphasized that the NRM government’s plan, is aimed at eliminating economic malpractices, including smuggling of goods, foreign exchange black market operations and speculation practices in trade, which he observes, were the main obstacles to the national tax collection process.
– Museveni has always told people to stop smuggling goods because it denies the government revenue for delivering social services. It also undermines industrialization and job creation.
– The President says smuggling is counter-productive because social services can’t be provided without revenue from tax collection.
– The government revenue has increased a thousandfold to UGX 5tn from UGX 5b in 1986.

Unanswered questions:

Who could be wrong in this? Who can save Ugandans from dangerous cosmetics that are part of the causes of cancer? Who should the President trust?

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