A high ranking official at the Inspectorate of Government has been arrested over alleged corruption at the Shs 30bn Agaru SACCO in Agago district, Northern Uganda.
State House Anti-corruption Unit Head, Lt Col Edith Nakalema, on Monday stormed Agago after receiving numerous complaints relating to mismanagement and corruption at Agaru SACCO.
Agaru SACCO was operating in Agago, Pader and Kitgum Districts with a view of promoting financial deepening but was closed two years ago by the current Board headed by Mr James Onying Penywi.
Interestingly, Onying is the Director of Project Monitoring at Inspectorate of Government.
Upon being interrogated by Nakalema before in a Town Hall setting, Onying admitted to “using SACCO tractor for personal use, at his farm.”
Onying said the SACCO lorry is “safe” and parked at a “location he will reveal.”
He said he kept in an undisclosed location 4 servers and 13 computers for the Sacco, raising fears about his motive.
It was discovered that Onying and other directors of the Sacco borrowed large sums of money from SACCO and there was no evidence of repayment.
For example, Shs 74million was withdrawn by Mr Moses Opio Ogal, Shs 63m by Prof Ogenga Latigo and Shs 200m by Onying.
Quizzed by Nakalema, Onying said he deposited Shs 100m on 31st January 2012, but no such record appears in the Bank Statement.
Nakalema also discovered that Onying was holding the Office of the Board chairperson illegally as his term expired.
Sacco members also complained of irregular deduction of staff salaries under the guise of loan repayments which had already been recovered.
Nakalema’s team revealed that ten motorcycles, two tractors, a Lorry and other properties belonging to Agaru SACCO were taken over by Onying for private and personal businesses.
Onying was handed over to police for further management.
An official, speaking on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution, said Onying’s arrest shocked many at the Inspectorate of Government.
“He is very senior,” said the official, adding, “before being appointed Director in charge of Project Monitoring, Onying was the in charge of Operations.”
Onying’s alleged involvement in corrupt tendencies will fuel criticism of the Inspectorate of Government which is already under fire over failure to contain endemic corruption in the country.
An investigation by ChimpReports shows that Onying has the biggest budget among those of all other directorates.
He monitors all donor funds injected in NUSAF and Refugees projects.
Each year donors especially World Bank and European Union pump in Onying’s directorate not less than Shs 15 billion; equipment in terms of brand new heavy duty vehicles; computers; and resources for training.
“Other directors envy Onying,” the source said.
At the IG, this is seen as a symptom of a wider problem.
“Most staff members have no commitment to the institution. The rate of sacking staff is very high and so are the resignations. The spirit is; ‘What is in it for me?” said our source.
The official at IG said an institution charged with a duty of promoting good governance, the revelations in Agago were “devastating” and “erode public confidence in the IG’s ability to deliver on its mandate.”
The Sacco leadership was also accused of irregular award of contracts to political leaders and district officials, disregarding the laid out procurement procedures in the PPDA Act.
Heads of department Mr Otto Okidi and Mr Richard Odoch among others were arrested to help with investigation into the unaccounted funds amounting to Shs 140m.
Mr Olal Levi was also held over alleged nepotism and conflict of interest. He will help investigators respond to inquiries on the irregular recruitment of 8 of his relatives.