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CID summons MPs over corruption in passing National Budget

Police CIDhas allegedly summoned a number of MPs and parliament staff for griling over budget graft

Kampala, (UG):- The Uganda Police under its Crime Investigations Directorate (CID) has summoned some Members of Parliament allegedly involved in the misuse of taxpayers’ money in connivance with the Ministry of Finance official.

The summoned MPs who include the Parliament’s Legal Committee vice chairperson, Yusuf Mutembuli (Bunyole East); Cissy Namujju (Lwengo Woman MP) and Busiki County MP, Paul Akamba are expected to appear before the CID headquarters at Kibuli at 9:00am, 10:00am and 11:00am respectively.

The two MPs, Namujju and Mutembuli are accused are wanted over their roles in the Budget Committee of Parliament that they were previously members. 

Reports exclusive to DailyExpress alleged that one of the legislators reportedly had some underhand dealings with Kenyans during the processing of the Petroleum Supplies Amendment Bill in November 2023. 

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“Parliament is becoming a market place of deals for some MPs. There was a plot to sabotage the Petroleum Supplies Amendment Bill and there are people who positioned to benefit from it at the expense of Ugandans,” said source.

Meanwhile another MP is said to have collected huge sums of money from various agencies while still serving as a member of the Budget committee.

The said legislator bought an expensive SUV and personalized its number plate. It is also said that the same legislator has erected big construction projects and also wanted to buy a property in the U.S at USD$3 million.

A source speaking on exclusively anonymous status said that also summoned are the staff of parliament whose accounts continued to receive huge amounts of money.

Among the staff is one Ranny Ismail from the office of the Prime Minister, Emmanuel Okwir Emuron and Okema Leonard under the Speaker’s office. 

Multiple sources confirmed that President Museveni ordered the investigations after his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday during which Members of Parliaments publicly rejected his amnesty proposal for suspected thieves in government. 

The head of State had said he was in possession of evidence incriminating Finance and Parliament officials in transactional budgeting; legislators allegedly colluding with accounting officers to make allocations of public resources in exchange for kickbacks.

The president noted that there is a group of officials from parliament who connive with the Central Bank of Uganda to steal taxpayers’ money and promised to crush them.

He did not name the suspects but disclosed that the facts before him confirmed long-standing rumours he had heard of graft at the heart of government in the annual appropriation of taxpayers’ money.

“You want blood?” he asked in apparent reference to action. “Yessss,” they bellowed. Then Mr Museveni retorted, “Okay … we shall go ahead”, but with a caveat that those to face the law would be the “dishonest” — individuals who dip their fingers in the cookie jar intentionally.

He likened these to Ugandan activists – in his words traitors – behind exposés of graft in government, despite publicly conceding that the vice is a cancer to Uganda’s progress.

A third column of corrupt officials that the President, however, said requires “counselling” to chaperon them to the right path are those who do wrong by “mistake”. “If you punish every mistake, who will you work with?” he said despite drawing a sword of blood for the “dishonestly” corrupt.

The forward march he promised in action against thieving officials didn’t take long to unfold. Hours later, Mr Museveni ordered CID, working closely with DDP’s Office, to get to the bottom of the claims with a view to prosecute incriminated suspects.

This publication was unable to establish the particulars of the lawmakers and Finance officials to face questioning by press time.

Investigators hope the information they get will lead to the next persons of interest, or determine the course of the inquiries which, according to knowledgeable sources, are to be expanded to other government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

CID Director Tom Magambo was unavailable by press time. While Ms Claire Nabakka, the deputy Police spokesperson, could neither confirm nor deny, saying she needed to “consult” before speaking on the matter.

Finance Ministry spokesman Jim Mugunga said he was unaware that police had summoned some of their staff while Parliament Spokesman Chris Obore was unreachable.

On Thursday, President Museveni had said that he had been “hearing stories that there is a racket from … [the] Ministry of Finance, they are bringing accounting officers of ministries to come to Parliament working with some people, to provide certain funds, provided they [officials] take a share”.

“I didn’t believe it [at first], but now I have proof. So, therefore, really the corrupt are like foreigners [because] some of these foreigners do not know Uganda,” he said, “I am very sorry for them because they do not know what they are doing. I pity those people who support them [because] they don’t know how strong we are.”

His revelations lifted the lid off years of investigations by intelligence agencies, including the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), which in dossiers prepared for him reported the alleged clandestine practice of some lawmakers taking money in exchange for heftier budget allocations to MDAs.

Sources close to the inquiries in earlier briefings to this newspaper said that implicated lawmakers call the extortion game “kicking the ball to the wall”, a euphemism for kickback likened to a bounce of a ball to the kicker if booted against a barrier.

Accounting officers – permanent secretaries or under-secretaries, chief executive officers and chief administrative officers – who “know how to kick the ball” receive generous budgetary allocations to their entities and muted questioning when before House accountability committees, the source said.

Conversely, MDAs headed by incorruptible officials reportedly face budget approval headaches and their accounting are most pummeled by accountability committees of the House.

This alleged budget corruption, according to another source, is the reason the President asked Members of Parliament to stop altering the budget and only make recommendations to the budget which he said was his. Some lawmakers upset over the comments pushed back, arguing that their role in the budget process was more than ceremonial.

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