IGG FINALLY MAKES PUBLIC HAPPY BY CRACKING WHIP ON CORRUPT DPP BOSSES
By Mulengera Reporters
The hitherto marginalized residents of Lugazi Municipality are now full of praises for the IGG Irene Mulyagonja after the Inspectorate came to their rescue by harvesting Sarah Babirye Atugonza, a notorious employee of the DPP’s Lugazi office who had made it a habit to seek millions of money in gratification from them before offering them what ideally is supposed to be a free service.
Mulengera News has been receiving multiple complaints from users in other courts like Nabweru showing solicitation of bribes is widespread to the extent that DPP staff working there often connive with police surgeons and some rogue police officers to extort money from already poverty-stricken members of the public. We have equally been receiving many similar complaints from users of courts like Lugazi, Mukono and Mwanga II Road in Kampala.
We are actually preparing a Bukedde TV-like expose to unmask such fraudulent actors who continue to use public office to extort money from the very poor who are already struggling to meet basic needs. The other good news for such suffering members of the public is that the ruthless operatives operating under Afande Edith Nakalema’s State House Anti-Corruption Unit are equally plotting an offensive on the corruption that continues to eat up service delivery in criminal justice system offices like police surgeon, court clerks and DPP officers spread in the different courts.
For the police surgeons Nakalema is intrigued its simply too much because sometimes Ugandan court users, who are already victims of violent crimes against which the state is supposed to have protected them in the first place, are always asked to part with as much as Shs100,000 to enable a police surgeon travel from Bombo Road to just Buganda Road Court to testify and give evidence in cases where such targeted Ugandans are the complainants. For the same police surgeon to travel from Bombo road to the Nabweru court to testify in criminal matters, which by the way is their work, the already financially-struggling Ugandans are asked to part with Shs200,000 for transport.
Ironically the money is never receipted and the so-called police surgeons make it even worse by quite often extorting such money from Ugandan complainants (following up their cases by pocketing the hard-earned Shs200,000) and not showing up to court to testify at all and in the end, cases are dismissed just like that. This is one area over which many citizens are very aggrieved the NRM government’s poor service delivery record.
Afande Nakalema will be investigating the extent of connivance between Magistrates, police surgeons and DPP Mike Chibita’s staff in orchestrating this extreme injustice which is part of the reason many Ugandans are aggrieved and disgruntled with poor service delivery through the criminal justice system. To their credit, the Vision Group has been intervening by giving platforms for such aggrieved Ugandans to come and vent out their anger.
And there is concern that whereas heads of other agencies like NIRA and the Judiciary that have been previously exposed by Vision Group have remorsefully been owning up and making steps to serve better, the Mike Chibita-led top management at the ODPP has remained largely indifferent to the cries of the public.
This has caused many old friends to become disappointed in Chibita in whom they initially expected a lot of cleaning up as the new DPP replacing Richard Butera. The general consensus now is much as he was perceived to be a political cadre, Butera was way much better as there was better management of purely criminal cases (having nothing to do with politics) than has become the norm during hitherto revered Mike Chibita’s period.
It’s this state of affairs that explains why Lugazi town residents jubilated on seeing the mighty IGG cracking the whip on the untouchable DPP staff against whom they had always complained at the Workers House-based headquarters in Kampala without the Chibita-led top management doing anything.
According to Ali Munira, who speaks for the IG, the officer whose luck finally ran out is none other that Sarah Atugonza Nabirye who despite her small position has been a small god of sorts ever claiming to be collecting money for her superiors to determine cases in ways those paying desire to see. She has been serving as office attendant but very powerful when it comes to messing up people’s cases. In her world only those who paid could be served but her luck ran out when a one Hadijah Naigaga (from whom she has habitually been extorting money) threw her hands in the air and proclaimed enough is enough.
And yet Naigaga is just one of the hundreds of court users from whom money has always been extorted in the Lugazi township. Her two sons got arrested and put on trial for robbery and theft. Her argument was fine they might be guilty but the two boys are entitled to speedy trial as prescribed in the Constitution.
In connivance with the DPP-supervised office based in Lugazi, Atugonza frustrated things and ensured the case hearing didn’t expeditiously commence until Naigaga bribes her enough. She obviously had interest in seeing her sons (Hatim Kiwanuka & Wahab Kasadha) go through quick trial so that they appeal or serve their sentence but Atugonza, like all the rotten ODPP staff, had totally different plans. Emissaries were sent out to assure Naigaga there would only be a quick trial if she parted with significant sums of money to gratify Atugonza and other officers involved in the case.
Like many Ugandans do in absence of options, Naigaga reluctantly offered to bribe. She was twice approached and made to pay Shs300,000 totaling to Shs600,000. But still she wasn’t helped as Atugonza (who promised to expedite the file on receiving the Shs600,000) turned her into a banana plantation (olusuku) of sorts by demanding for more gratifications. The poverty-stricken Naigaga was then advised to try IGG. She prepared the additional Shs300,000 Atugonza had asked for in order to expedite the file and accord her sons a speedy trial. It was then that heartless Atugonza was harvested as she came to pick the cash. Naigaga’s sons are being tried under CRB/100/2019.
Munira says, whereas many citizens are pushed to bribe similar ODPP staff in circumstances similar to what Naigaga found herself in, the whole thing is an offence and punishable under the Anti-Corruption Act 2009. She says on being cornered, a tearful Atugonza owned up and demanded to be favored through the Plea-Bargaining approach. She preferred the very quick trial which she has always worked hard to deny hundreds of other Ugandans insisting on being bribed first before she can offer a service for which she earns a salary. Its for the actions like hers that the Chibita-led ODPP now ranks top among the most-resented public institutions in Uganda.
Majority of the Ugandans who dislike the NRM government its significantly because of the corruption, inefficiencies and anomalous service delivery by ODPP officers across the country. Sometimes they solicit and obtain bribes to mess up cases and defend themselves by claiming there was order from above by politician or minister so and so. The irony is that, however aggrieved one becomes there isn’t much a Ugandan can do because the current Chibita administration has ensured whoever tries to pursue private prosecution is blocked.
Ideally the DPP takes over such cases to do them better because the office is presumed to be more capacitated but the contemporary practice by the ODPP is to take over cases and simply kill them off as opposed to prosecuting them better. This is the reason many, including MPs, are of the view that this aspect of the Constitution is currently among the most abused in Museveni’s Uganda.
Back to Atugonza; Munira says after confessing to the offence, Atugonza (who was ably prosecuted by Thomas Okoth) was compelled to pay a fine of Shs500,000 as the alternative to 1-year jail term. She was also compelled to refund Shs600,000 she had previously extorted from Naigaga. Whereas the conviction excited many of Atugonza’s victims, the sentence was considered too lenient for somebody who caused so much torment. Residents felt given the very much she has been extorting Shs500,000 was just peanuts for Atugonza. But the consolation resides in the fact that (as Munira says) cold-hearted Atugonza will never hold public office again in her entire life. This shields many would-be her next extortion victims. Lugazi residents now consider the usage of the court and ODPP Lugazi office safer because at least one extortionist has fallen though they insist many more dangerous others remain active in office not only in Lugazi but in many other ODPP offices across the country. (For comments, call or text us on 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).