The Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit in State House, Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, has warned that the ‘I do not care’ attitude that is exhibited by some Ugandans will kill the country.
She was yesterday speaking at the headquarters of the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank in Entebbe Municipality during an investigation session of alleged fraud in the institution.
The Executive Director of the facility Dr Charles Lagu and other members of staff have been implicated in the alleged fraud scandal. The Gene Bank serves 12 Eastern African countries namely Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda and Kenya. Others are Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.
The officials have been implicated in a wide range of alleged fraud activities that include the NAGRC managers’ importation of semen of dairy bulls worth Euros 1.8 million from Italy (equivalent Shs.7.2billion). Management revealed to Lt. Col. Nakalema that they rejected the semen because they never ordered for it.
However, the whistleblowers had indicated that officials of NAGRC rejected the semen consignment because the Italian supplier never provided kickback to the Ugandan officials. The Anti-Corruption Unit in collaboration with the Uganda Police has already established that the suppliers had dealt with the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank in the past.
During the investigations yesterday, allegations of fraudulent procurement through the use of restricted bidding instead of open bidding were abounding, making the country lose Shs.1.109 billion. The Anti-Corruption Unit was informed that the Government of Uganda also lost Shs.249.86 million on shoddy construction of a road in Lusenke Stock Farm in Kayunga District in Central Region.
Reacting to the myriad of the revelations, Lt. Col. Nakalema observed that “the I do not care attitude will kill or country. People should have the liberty to give evidence without fear or favour. Most of the works were supervised by a mechanical engineer instead of a civil engineer. Dr Lagu is reported to have sold 900 cows illegally at a cost of Shs.616 million. Out of this, Shs.190 million disappeared. The Executive Director alleged that the Anti-Corruption Unit Officers used violence at the beginning of investigations. I want the Executive Director to tell us why he hid his phones while being interviewed at the Anti-Corruption offices.”
She reminded the officers and wananchi present that it was wrong to have camps and sectarianism in the organization and expressed shock to learn that so far the Animal Genetic Bank Resources Centre and Data Bank has spent about 1,000 litres of nitrogen in maintaining the semen which they claim they never ordered for that is being stored at Entebbe International Airport. She further observed that if the delivery of the semen consignment to Entebbe was illegal, the Ugandan recipient should have sued the Italian supplier. She criticized the officials of NAGRC for the shoddy building works of various structures and the Executive Director for jumping bond.
State Minister for Animal and Veterinary Affairs, Hon. Bright Rwamirama called on the personnel at the Gene Bank to work diligently and reminded them that they must bear in mind that the tasks they carry out must be in Government and national interest.
The Executive Director of NAGRC, Dr Charles Lagu, revealed that when he took office in September 2017, he found cliques in the premises. He reported that the Italian company, NSAME, dumped the semen adding that they have persisted in maintaining the consignment because of what he called ‘ethics of work’. He stressed that they never ordered for the semen that today lies at Entebbe International Airport.
Several officials gave testimony over the shoddy construction works that have been occasioned on the Gene Bank in Entebbe. In the meantime, investigations are continuing.