By Marvin Ocol
The Anti Corruption Court in Kampala has convicted an official of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) over abuse of office.
Asiimwe Wilfred Muganga (Acting Director Regional Services), Mabiho Patrick Nyakana (Secretary) and Wamala Tadeo-(Accountant) were indicted by the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions with four counts of Abuse and one count of conspiracy to defraud.
This, following a case in which Asiimwe irregularly requisitioned for payment of Shs. 100,000,000 in batches of Shs. 25,000,000, purporting that the funds were for conducting field activities at the Mbarara, Hoima, Jinja, and Central Human Rights Regional Offices.
Wamala initiated the payment while Mabiho approved the payment to the personal accounts of the Regional Human Rights Officers in the aforementioned regional offices.
When the funds reached the accounts of the Regional Human Rights Officers, Asiimwe contacted each one of them to withdraw and return to him Shs 20,000,000 and retain Shs. 5,000,000 for their personal use.
The Regional Human Rights Officer for Mbarara became suspicious of this transaction, and whistle-blew to one of the commissioners of UHRC.
The matter was brought to the attention of the then Commission Chairman who reported it to the State House Anti Corruption Unit.
Investigations ensued and the trio were charged together with three Regional Human Rights Officers.
Upon hearing the matter, Justice Lawrence Gidudu convicted Asiimwe on the four counts of abuse of office and acquitted Mabiiho and Wamala.
The court further ordered him to compensate Government Shs, 60,000,000, and barred him from holding public office for the next 10 years effective the date of sentence.
During sentencing, the Learned Trial Judge was emphatic on the need to sound a warning that public officers who steal public funds will be punished if found guilty.
“Stealing public funds irrespective of the amount is a common thing here at ACD and it cannot be treated lightly,“ he said. “ It must be frowned upon! “ he added.
Court also ordered Wamala to compensate Government Shs. 20,000,000 which he received from Asiimwe but never refunded to the UHRC account. He is supposed to pay it within 30 days from the date of judgement or be charged with embezzlement.
The Human Rights Regional Officers of Jinja, Hoima, Mbarara and Central were also ordered by the court to each compensate the Government Shs. 5,000,000 within 30 days effective 14.01.2022.
This case was prosecuted by Baine Stanley Moses (Chief State Attorney) and Emily Mutuzo Sendaula (State Attorney).