The Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary, Pius Bigirimana has Monday told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he is not in position to provide to audit queries relating to illegal expenditure since he was not occupying office at the time.
Officials from the Judiciary were put on the spot to explain the failure to submit bank statement of judicial officers accused of receiving a sum of Shs 34bn on their bank accounts.
It follows a probe by the Parliamentary Committee months ago into the alleged corruption by former Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary, Expedito Kagole Kivumbi which resulted into his interdiction.
The House Committee would later direct the Judiciary to submit the bank statements as proof of accountability of the said expenditure.
However, when Pius Bigirimana who replaced Kagole as the new Permanent Secretary appeared before the committee on Monday morning, he said he could not provide answers to the queries since he was not holding office at the time.
Bigirimana and the team of officials from the Judiciary were appearing to respond to queries from the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2017/18.
The audit report cited gross inconsistencies in the money spent on travel by the Chief Justice (CJ), Bart Katureebe and his Deputy, both internally and foreign. Over Shs 275m was drawn for the CJ and Deputy to travel to Australia, according to the audit report.
At the same time, some Shs 46m was drawn from the public coffers to cater for the CJ to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, and an additional (undisclosed) amount was withdrawn for the CJ’s travel within Uganda.
The said funds were withdrawn between June 23 and 26, which raised queries among legislators on the House Committee on how plausible it was for the CJ to travel within Uganda and abroad in such a short window of time.
“Whereas both (CJ and Deputy) were in Australia, monies were again withdrawn to cater for their internal travel within Uganda and at the same time, money was withradwn on June 23 for the internal travel of CJ and Deputy CJ,” Mbarara Municipality MP, Michael Tusiime said.
“Then during the same time, money was again drawn for the CJ’s travel to Cape Town between July 23 and 27, and it was withdrawn within that period when they were in Australia”.
The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Nandala Mafabi directed the officials to provide details of the expenditure on travel of all judicial officers in 2017/18 financial year, not just the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice.
“Mr Chairman, I want the Principal Accountant to tell us technically whether this is possible or not. If it is not possible, the people in the office at the time are still alive. Why don’t you call them? To make your work easy,” Bigirimana said in response.
The Principal Accountant told the Committee that it would be ideal for the external auditors charged with auditing the Judiciary to study the expenditure on travel and provide a report.
“Like the Accounting Officer has indicated, we were all not around (occupying office). My view is, I request that the external audit team for the entity review and get you the analysis,” he said.