The saga involving former Internal Security Organization (ISO) spies, who are demanding their terminal benefits, has deepened. Retrenched under donor-imposed Structural Adjustments in civil service program, these ex-ISO workers had served as operative officers mostly based at Sub Counties and districts-and some few at ISO headquarters until 1995 when the Museveni government laid them off. They are about 1204 in total. Following their retrenchment they went to court which a warded them Shs22bn in 2005, with 10% interest per annum and among other benefits—the figure has since shoot up to shs72bn.
However, government later decided to settle them through out of court litigation and as a result government committed to pay them shs39bn.
Fights have now emerged on how this money should be paid out and who should handle the process.
Whereas ISO says it will take charge, these ex spies are opposed to it, saying it should be instead the permanent secretary in the office of the president to handle the payments. ISO’s decision is informed by the fact that, when government released the first batch (Shs10bn) in 2014, it was later discovered that the intended beneficiaries received only shs3.03bn.
The balance, nobody knows its accountability. With government now in the process of releasing the remaining shs29bn ISO is of the view that they cannot allow it to be misused like the other Shs10bn. ISO’s audit team has already established that the beneficiaries are supposed to get maximum shs18bn. So, out of 29bn there is a balance of shs11bn.
OPERATIVES SPEAK OUT
Led by their chairman Wainomola Joseph, the Ex spies have since asked ISO to distance itself from their affairs and hence should fast track their payments as soon as possible. They contend that, they have suffered enough and hence, the little that they should have shared should not be taken away also.
They are of the view that they were not party to the negotiations that saw their original claim of shs 72bn as awarded by court reduce to shs 39bn—saying it was the work of their purported leaders led by a one Jeff Kiwanuka ,who allegedly had a hand in the first payment where shs7bn is uncounted for. Kiwanuka and his group are currently battling this corruption case in the anti-corruption court.
“Court had ruled in our favor, but government officials sat somewhere and dictated that we should get only shs39bn. We were even not party to those negotiations,” Wainomola said.
“We humbly request ISO to get out of this, when we were in court they disowned us, but now because there is money they are imposing themselves on us. Morally they disowned us, they can’t own us legally. We know someone called Jeff Kiwanuka is the one confusing them and he has convinced them that we don’t deserve all our money, yet we have our own verified list of beneficiaries,” Ssekalaala added.
He continued: ”The work of ISO was to stop at verifying and payments were to be handled by the accounting officer who is the PS in the office of the president. We are appealing to the president to intervene in this matter and help us because we have failed to reach him.”
The ex spies added that, if it comes to the worst they shall be compelled to sue ISO DG and as well the Attorney General.
“We respect ISO but on this they have been misled. The office of the president’s PS should be left to do its work independently. We are the ones to decide on how we should be paid, they told us that they have their own verified list certified by UPDF, and even those who passed on, they have representatives who to have even the letters of administration to prove so. They also made it clear that none of the lawyers who represented them should lay a claim on any single coin of this money, because they are not part of it,” Wainomola added.
Available documents indicate that, their lawyers were advised by government to file a separate bill of costs in court.