Mbarara district’s Chief Accounting Officer, Cuthbert Esoku and the municipality town clerk, Edward Lwanga who were recently arrested by the Anti-corruption Unit and Police over allegations of land fraud and misuse of funds have been sacked and replaced.
Esoku and Lwanga were interdicted by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Ben Kumumanya and replaced, SoftPower News has learnt.
These were paraded in court, charged and granted a cash bail of Shs 10m each.
Esoku was arrested on February 23 together with Rosaria Karuhanga (Clerk to Council), Godlive Nayebare (Lands Officer), Gerald Murinda (Staff Surveyor) and Sabbas Barijja (Municipality Engineer).
In days that followed, the Unit also ordered the arrest of Edward Lwanga, the Mbarara town clerk and Richard Kerere, the Municipality treasurer over failure to account for Shs 900m for capacity building under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project.
One of the district councilors representing Kashare Sub-county in Kashari South, Mark Mugisha confirmed to SoftPower News on Thursday morning that the CAO and Town Clerk have both been replaced.
Esoku was replaced by Kweyamba Ruhemba who has been the CAO of Ntungamo district while Lilian Kebirungi who has been Mbarara district’s Assistant CAO will now serve as the Acting Town Clerk for Mbarara municipality. This website understands that Ruhemba reported on duty on Tuesday.
Joanita Nakityo who previously worked as Mbarara Assistant CAO and later transferred to Butebo district has now been deployed in Ntungamo district as the CAO replacing Ruhemba.
Meanwhile, the accused officials in Mbarara have sued the State House Anti-Corruption Unit challenging its mandate to arrest or investigate suspects.
The petitioners contend that the Unit headed by Lt Col Edith Nakalema is operating without an enabling law and infringes on the functions of established anti-corruption agencies such as the Inspector General of Police.
According to Mugisha, the decision to replace the accused officials has to do with their legal action against the Unit.
“The whole problem is that the arrested district officials sued the Unit challenging Nakalema’s powers. That’s why such harsh punishments are coming in to deter our officers from challenging the Unit,” said Mugisha.
He says by closing the offices of the CAO and the other accused officials, the Unit has frustrated business at the district.
“We recently advertised in news papers, people applied for a number of jobs but the short listing has not been made yet submissions were concluded at the end of February,” he said in explaining how operations have been stalled.
“Even many other district activities are on stand. We were to have council meetings, but they have been delayed because of inability to access the CAO’s office and have the clerk to council to record our minutes,” Mugisha explained.
He says that as a district, they are not happy with decisions made claiming there are more issues of fraud that appear to have been overlooked.
“We are going in for a brief council meeting to discuss ways of challenging the decisions which were taken. Because the issue of the land neighboring state lodge is not resolved, it is still fenced by an unknown person and nothing has been done to recover it. Why then should they [Anti-corruption Unit] go ahead to punish our innocent district leaders?” Mugisha asked.
“Big horns in government are stealing people’s land and others have stolen huge sums of money but they are the untouchables. Government only comes for these small people who have not caused any financial loss to the country,” he added.