PENSION SCAM: Judgement Day Set As Assessors Ask Court To Acquit Obey, Lwamafa
Two court assessors in Uganda have advised the country’s Anti-Corruption Court to acquit three former officials of the public service ministry who are on trial for charges arising out of the infamous pension scam.
The officials include; former permanent secretary Jimmy Lwamafa, Christopher Obey, the former principal accountant and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, the former director Research and Development. The assessors gave their advice last Friday.
The three were charged with causing financial loss, abuse of office, diversion of funds and conspiracy to defraud the state.
The three along with others are accused of perpetrating the loss of Shs88.2 billion although a conspiracy believed to involve officials at the ministries of Finance and Public Service, Bank of Uganda, Cairo Bank and the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (ECBA) claims at least Shs165b meant for pensioners was stolen. The revelations came up in April 2013.
Justice Gidudu has set November 11 for judgement on a matter which has been running for the last one year after the same court dismissed the case.
The court assessors’ opinion is a lay man’s interpretation of a criminal matter, which though not binding, has on occasion indicated how a suit will be decided.
According to the assessors, the head of the CID, Grace Akullo, who unearthed the alleged fraud of Shs165 billion in the public service ministry, was never called to testify.
Investigations led by CIID director Grace Akullo unearthed a racket which discovered that bank accounts were opened up in Cairo Bank in the names of former employees of the defunct East African Community or their beneficiaries and their respective gratuity monies were channelled to the accounts. At least Shs165b had been withdrawn from Cairo Bank by the time the racket blew up, and the more than 3,000 entitled pensioners had not received a penny. Reports were afoot that the suspects had big monies to dispense in order to derail the case, which Akullo confirmed.
Last year in April, the Anti Corruption Court dismissed the case citing the failure by the state to prosecute the suspects drawing anger from the public and calls to reinstate it.
However, in August last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions Mike Chibita reinstated charges of abuse of office, embezzlement and conspiracy to defraud government against the three officials.