UGANDA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OFFICIAL CONVICTED OF ABUSE OF OFFICE
By Mulengera Reporter
The Anti-Corruption Court has convicted the Acting Director of Regional Services at the Uganda Human Rights Commission-UHRC Wilfred Asiimwe Muganga of abuse of office. Asiimwe was on Friday evening convicted by the Anti-Corruption Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu on four charges of abuse of office.
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In 2019, Asiimwe together with five other officials Mabiho Patrick Nyakana the Secretary, Tadeo Wamala the Accountant, Rebecca Nassuna the Regional Human Rights Officer for Jinja, Willy Agirembabazi for Central region, and Rebecca Agnes Tino in charge of Hoima was indicted by the Office of the DPP with four counts of Abuse and one count of conspiracy to defraud.
It is alleged that Asiimwe illegally requisitioned for payment of 100 million Shillings in batches of 25 million Shillings purporting that the funds were for conducting field activities at the Mbarara, Hoima, Jinja, and Central Human Rights Regional Offices.
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The prosecutors had also indicated that Wamala initiated the payment and Nyakana approved the payment to the personal accounts of the Regional Human Rights Officers in the four regional offices.
When the funds reached the accounts of the Regional Human Rights Officers, the court heard that Asiimwe contacted each one of them to withdraw and return to him 20 million shillings and retain the balance of five million shillings for their personal use.
As a result, the Regional Human Rights Officer for Mbarara became suspicious of this transaction. The matter was brought to the attention of the then Commission Chairperson the late Med Kaggwa who reported it to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. Investigations ensued and the trio was charged together with three Regional Human Rights Officers.
Justice Gidudu convicted Asiimwe on four counts of abuse of office and acquitted the rest on grounds that he had misled them to commit the crimes for his personal gains and that Asiimwe masterminded the whole fraud.
The Judge further ordered Asiimwe to compensate Government with 60 million Shillings and barred him from holding public office for the next 10 years effective the date of sentence.
During sentencing, Justice Gidudu was emphatic on the need to sound a warning that public officers who steal public funds will be punished if found guilty.
“Stealing public funds irrespective of the amount is a common thing here at Anti-Corruption Court Division and it cannot be treated lightly. It must be frowned upon”, ruled Gidudu.
However, although the Judge has acquitted Wamala of abuse of office, he has gone ahead and ordered him to compensate Government with 20 million Shillings which he received from Asiimwe but never refunded to the UHRC account. According to the Judge, Wamala is supposed to pay it within 30 days from the date of judgment or be charged with embezzlement.
The Uganda Human Rights Regional Officers of Jinja, Hoima, Mbarara, and Central were also ordered by the court to each compensate the Government within 30 days effective 14th January 2022 the five million Shillings that Asiimwe had earlier told them to retain. Justice Gidudu will on Monday next week be handing Asiimwe his sentence in the case–URN. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org).