Breaking

Former ULC Senior Accountant Arrested for Alleged Corruption

As a Senior Accountant, Isabirye was among the top administrators who were accused of paying 10.6 billion Shillings to six ghost claimants without the approval of the Commission. The beneficiaries include; Kasiya Rwabukurukuru who was paid 6.43 billion Shillings for land at Kiyunga in Sheema District, and Stephen Peter Nagenda of Kibale, Rwanswa who was paid 1.06 billion Shillings.
20 May 2022 08:12
Former ULC Senior Accountanting Officer Siraj Isabirye (L) answering queries from Public Accounts Committee of Parliament before being handed over to police Photo by Dominic Ochola
Siraj Isabirye, the former Senior Accountant of the Uganda Land Commission has been arrested over financial irregularities and dubious payments which he made while still holding the position.

As a Senior Accountant, Isabirye was among the top administrators who were accused of paying 10.6 billion Shillings to six ghost claimants without the approval of the Commission. The beneficiaries include; Kasiya Rwabukurukuru who was paid 6.43 billion Shillings for land at Kiyunga in Sheema  District, and Stephen Peter Nagenda of Kibale, Rwanswa who was paid 1.06 billion Shillings.

The others are Julius Busuulwa who was paid 1.4 billion Shillings, Natalia Namuli who was paid 1.6 billion Shillings, Yisaka Lwakana who received 125.3 million Shillings and Mugisha Geoffrey who was paid 1.49 billion Shillings for land at Buyaga in Kibaale District.

But Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, the interdicted Chairperson of the Uganda Land Commission told the probe Committee that Julius Busuulwa and Natalia Namuli could not be traced even if records show that they received the money.

The Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2020/2021 indicated that the payouts, together with several other transactions could not be confirmed due to the absence of adequate supporting documentation and reliable data by the Commission.

In addition, the audit report says a sum of 1.2 billion Shillings was paid for outstanding arrears that related to the previous year but were not recognized in the financial statements as payables and a withholding tax of  22 million Shillings was not paid to Uganda Revenue Authority - URA.

“It was noted that the entity obtained a supplementary budget of 10.62 billion Shillings but was not requisitioned by management. There were unsupported payments of domestic arrears amounting to  14.4 billion Shillings. Payments worth Shillings 6.7 billion were paid to unverified arrears,” the report said.

Isabirye was on Thursday asked to explain how he made such payments without supporting documents, and for some, even after the commission had refused to grant approval. He was appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprise – COSASE, alongside the former Undersecretaries Benon Kigenyi, and Robert Nyombi.

“You know the practice has always been that you get notice to pay these people and the Board’s approval attached to it. This time round, the Commission did not approve this payment. Why did you move away from the normal practice?” committee chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi questioned.

Isabirye, however told the Committee that he was pushed to pay the money by Barbra Imaryo, the interdicted Secretary and the substantive Accounting Officer for the commission at the time.

“...I was directed by the Secretary to pay. I regarded this as a special case because we were going to the next financial year and if we did not pay this money it would be taken back,” Isabirye said.

The Committee also discovered that the accountant had paid the Commission money into individual accounts of the staff to do the Commission’s work. Rukiga County MP Roland Ndyomugenyi and his counterpart Elijah Okupa of Kasilo County pressed Isabirye to reveal the names of the account holders and how much he had deposited in those accounts. But he said he could not remember the figures off his head.

But he mentioned Walter Jokene, the Senior Finance Officer, who also admitted that he had received the money, but could not state the amount; Sarah Nambooze an Assistant Finance Officer in the same office and Denis Musinguzi, an Economist at the Commission.

Recently, the Committee ordered the arrest of Joan Namulondo, the Principal Human Resource Officer at the Commission after it emerged that she had received about 150 million Shillings on her personal account.