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Brokers Hijack NIRA Processes, Making Millions in Bribes

Although the process of registering for a national ID is supposed to be simple and straight forward, several Ugandans try to avoid the processes and opt for the services of brokers who offer to get all the papers signed and filed by NIRA staff and set an appointment for recording biodata. Each applicant who seeks the service of a broker pays not less than 50,000 Shillings.

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The services of the National Identification Registration Authority-NIRA have been hijacked by brokers who are now making millions off Shillings from unsuspecting Ugandans.

Although the process of registering for a national ID is supposed to be simple and straight forward, several Ugandans try to avoid the processes and opt for the services of brokers who offer to get all the papers signed and filed by NIRA staff and set an appointment for recording biodata. Each applicant who seeks the service of a broker pays not less than 50,000 Shillings.

Under normal procedure, persons seeking national ID's are supposed to pick forms from any  NIRA office countrywide. These forms are filled by the applicant before they are taken to the village chairman and the District Internal Security Officers (DISO) for approval, a process which would ideally take one to two days.

At the Nakawa Division NIRA office located in Kalinabiri, our reporter met Isaac Okia, a broker who said that their service seeks to ease the process of securing a national ID for those who find it both bureaucratic and problematic. Okia told that the charge helps him secure all the necessary stamps from the local councils and district security officers.

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Okia says that he helps up to 15  people on a daily basis, and can collect up to 750,000 Shillings on a good day. But, he adds, the money is also shared with the local council leaders from whom the stamps are sought.

"All that money does not end up in my pocket. We have LCs and DISOs that we work with. They know us and what we do. We give each of them 10,000 Shillings for each stamp," Okia explains, emphasizing that this is not happening only in Nakawa but wherever NIRA offices are found.

A broker at the Wandegeya NIRA branch who prefered anonymity says that at times, they also give a cut of the money to NIRA officers. "We give this money to everyone. Even the NIRA officers because they are the ones who recommend some of the people we help," the source said. 

However, for some applicants, the high amounts of money being charged by brokers have become a hindrance. Rose Nyangoma, an applicant for the national ID says that the hefty amounts of money she was required to pay stopped her from registering.

"I asked where I could pick forms and the guard gave me one form and directed me to get photocopies from a man who was outside the gate. The man told me to pay 50,000 before he could help me to get the ID, " Nyangoma narrates. She adds that because she did have the money, she has still failed to secure a national ID two months down the road.

NIRA spokesperson, Gilbert Kadilo told URN that the services of such middlemen are illegal. However, he added that nothing can be done about them unless applicants raise formal complaints with the body.

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Kadilo says applicants who are asked to pay for services should either go to the police or write a formal complaint to the Executive Director Brig Stephen Kwiringira who will initiate investigations.

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