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Minister Nankabirwa Accused Of Recruiting Parallel BMU Officers

State Minister for Fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa is at the centre of a controversy involving extortion of money from fishermen on Lake Victoria and abusing the powers of Beach Management Unit - BMU officials.
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State Minister for Fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa is at the centre of a controversy involving extortion of money from fishermen on Lake Victoria and abusing the powers of Beach Management Unit - BMU officials.

Nankabirwa is accused by fishermen and BMU officials of illegally recruiting parallel fisheries law enforcement officials who have mistreated fishermen and people traveling by boat on Lake Victoria. The parallel law enforcement officials also extort money from people through fines and issuing fake receipts.

All BMU officials in the districts of Buvuma, Kalangala, Namayingo, Mayuge, Jinja, Mukono, Masaka and Buikwe have been affected.

Magid Magumba, Chairman Jinja BMU, says the illegal law enforcement team extorts between 100,000 and 300,000 shillings from boat owners and fishermen as fines.  At least 11,017 boat owners from different districts have filed complaints. In Jinja district alone, 148 boat owners say they paid money for boat licenses, registration of boats and acquiring of boat number plates in 2011, but have not received them.  

Magumba says 250,000 shillings was paid for acquiring a boat license and number plate, while registration cost 20,000 shillings. They were issued with fake receipts. He says the illegal law enforcers referred those who paid to Minister Nankabirwa, who has also failed to give them good response as to where their money was deposited and whether they will get boat number plates, licenses and registration.

Azidi Kaziba, Chairman BMU Buvuma district says a total of 1,087 BMU officials on Lake Victoria have been replaced by illegal fisheries officials. He claims that the officials were disarmed, not facilitated, while politicians and high ranking government officials have intercepted their work. He cites the district police commanders, resident district commissioners as some of the people who have ordered for their arrest.

 

John Bosco Akela, a BMU official from Wairaka, says the enforcement team members like Frank Munyaneza identify themselves with expired documents signed by Hon Nankabirwa, not the Commissioner for Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry.

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The BMU officials have petitioned the Parliament to find out why the minister is acting unlawfully and why parallel fisheries officers are extorting money from fishers.

Paul Mwiru, Vice Chairperson Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee –PAC accuses Nankabirwa of usurping the powers of the Commissioner for Fisheries. He says PAC will write to the commissioner seeking explanation.

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Jackson Wadanya, the Assistant Commissioner in the Department of Fisheries, when contacted on phone said the parallel fisheries officers are not considered and are operating unlawfully.

URN was unable to reach Nankabirwa as her phone 0772455885 was unavailable at the time of filing this report.