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Oulanyah, Otto, MPs implicated in cooperative funds scandal

RIP: Jacob Oulanyah

RIP: Jacob Oulanyah

It’s been almost a month since the arrest of three members of parliament: Cissy Namujju (Lwengo Woman), Yusuf Mutemebuli (Bunyole East), and Paul Akamba (Busiki County) on corruption charges.

They were later joined by MPs Michael Mawanda (Igara East) and Ignatius Wamakuyu Mudimi (Elgon County). Akamba, Mawanda and Wamakuyu were charged in connection with the misuse of cooperative societies’ compensation funds.

The charges against these MPs stem from a report by the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, which investigated the governance and value for money of budgetary appropriations to cooperatives.

The committee, chaired by MP Mwine Mpaka Rwamirama of Mbarara City South Division, produced a damning report implicating several senior government officials, both current and former, as well as members of parliament from both the opposition and the ruling National Resistance Movement.

The report, published in October 2023, called for the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and the police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) to conduct further investigations to establish criminality. When the report was presented to parliament for consideration, Speaker Annet Anita Among forwarded it to the police, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), and the DPP for further management.

As the arrest and possible prosecution of those implicated continues, The Observer has revisited the 210-page report to highlight the key individuals likely to follow the four MPs. The most senior person identified in the report for exercising undue influence, leading to various cooperatives losing significant sums of money, is the state minister for Cooperatives in the ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Fredrick Ngobi Gume.

Gume is repeatedly named for recommending that cooperatives use particular law firms to receive their compensations. Cooperatives that refused to cooperate experienced delays in their payments, while those that complied were promptly compensated. One of the cooperatives coerced to hire a specific law firm was the West Acholi Cooperative Union.

The minister ordered the cooperative to hire the services of Century Advocates just weeks before the compensation was made. According to the report, the law firm charged the cooperative 50 per cent of the compensation money received from the government.

“The Secretary Manager, Mr. Oyen Patrick, and the Chairperson of the Union, Mr. Oyugi Jackson, while interfacing with the Committee, informed the Committee that the Union contracted the legal services of M/S Century Advocates upon recommendation by the State Minister for Cooperatives, Hon. Gume Frederick Ngobi. Subsequently, the Union undertook an MOU with the said law firm in which it was resolved that a ‘commission of 50% of any amount paid by the Government to be paid to M/S Century Advocates,’” the report reads in part.

The report adds that the committee was left bewildered as to what role the law firm was to play in the compensation process apart from accessing unjustified payment from the union. The minister is also implicated in asking for 50 per cent of the compensation money from North Bukedi Cooperative Union Limited because he helped them access their compensation.

“The Union Chairperson, Mr. Gundi Farouk, informed the Committee that he rejected the said proposal by the Minister and was later not surprised when the Union received only Shs 600 million,” the report reads. Shs 11.4 billion had been verified as compensation for the union.

The minister also forced the East Acholi Cooperative Union Ltd to hire the legal services of M/S Odonga Otto & Co. Advocates, a law firm belonging to the former MP for Aruu county, Odonga Otto. The law firm was to take 30 per cent of the compensation money from the cooperative union.

“The Chairperson of the Union, Ms. Aceng Allen, informed the Committee that M/S Odonga Otto & Co. Advocates was imposed on the Union by officials from MTIC who advised them to use his services to claim for war loss compensation. It was her submission that when she, on behalf of the Union, objected to the same, the said law firm instituted a suit against the Union for non-compliance,” the report reads in part.

In the end, they were forced to agree to consent out of court on the same terms set out by the minister. When the Union was given Shs 1 billion, Odonga Otto was paid Shs 300 million. The report also notes that the same cooperative society was asked for Shs 300 million by the former speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, if they were to ever access their compensation.

“Ms. Aceng Allen, the Chairperson of the Union, testified before the Committee that she, together with the Union Treasurer, Mr. Opio Severoni Asony, met the late Rt Hon. Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, in Arua in October 2020, where he tabled the proposal that the claim of the Union would be paid at once but at a cost of Shs 300 million. Since the Union did not have such an amount of money at the time, it was the testimony of Ms. Aceng Allen that the Treasurer and herself delivered Shs 100 million in December 2020 to the late Rt Hon. Speaker of Parliament of Uganda at his residence in Muyenga,” the report reads in part. Shs 5.5 billion had been verified for compensation for East Acholi Cooperative.

The report also indicates that Gen Salim Saleh and an individual named Lubega were paid Shs 1 billion from the compensation given to Banyan- kore Kweterana Cooperative Society, “for loan repayment that had earlier been obtained from the bank and they had failed to repay.”

The report names several members of parliament from both the opposition and the ruling National Resistance Movement who received large sums of money by exerting influence. These MPs either forced cooperative societies to hire their selected lawyers to pursue compensation from the government, with the lawyers charging as much as 50 per cent of all the money the cooperatives received. Michael Mawanda, the MP for Igara East, is the most frequently cited MP implicated in taking billions from cooperatives.

Among the cooperatives that Mawanda allegedly deprived of their compensation are West Mengo Growers Cooperative Union and Buyaka Growers Cooperative Society Limited.

“The Committee recommends that the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID) should conduct investigations into the circumstances under which Members of Parliament Mudimi Ignatius Wamakuyu and Mawanda Michael Maranga got involved in the war loss compensation payments,” the report reads in part.

The report also implicates several MPs in various compensation claims. MP Wamakuyu Mudimi is cited for involvement in the compensation claims of Lambuli Central Pulpery Cooperative Society Limited, Bumwambu Growers Cooperative Society Limited, Masaaba Cooperative Union Limited, and Buyaka Growers Cooperative Society Limited.

Ann Maria Nankabirwa [NRM], the former woman MP for Kyankwanzi district, is mentioned for her involvement in the compensation of Wamala Growers Cooperative Union Limited. John Musila [NRM], the MP for Bubulo East, is noted for failing to account for billions given to Uganda Cooperative Transport Union Limited.

The report also names opposition MPs. Geoffrey Ekanya [FDC] is highlighted for failing to account for Shs 500 million given to South Bukedi Cooperative Union Ltd. Although Nandala Mafabi [Budadiri East] is not named explicitly, Bugisu Cooperative Union, of which he is chairman, is accused of failing to account for over Shs 2 billion given in compensation by the government. Maxwell Akora [UPC], the MP for Maruzi, is also cited for failing to account for Shs 500 million given to Lango Cooperative Union Limited, where he serves as chairperson.

Additionally, Kasilo MP Elijah Okupa [Independent, formerly FDC] is implicated in the compensation saga of Teso Cooperative Union, where over Shs 140 million couldn’t be accounted for.



+8 #1 Apollo Ekelot 2024-07-10 14:51
These guys are so evil, no wonder the country is going nowhere! Is there anyone among the 'misleaders' whom we call leaders who is innocent?

Look at Otto boring us with 'wisdom' on corruption yet he is one of the high priests!
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0 #2 kabayekka 2024-07-10 16:51
This is such a political get together NRM party that seems to have gone out of order in terms of encouraging the citizens of Uganda to join cooperative unions.

Any one with common sense can see that it was government corruption at its highest order! The Kingdom state of Buganda cannot accept to continue to participate into such a corrupt union.

It cannot be that former King Freddie of Buganda could allow his son currently the King of Buganda to go along with such Uganda Central Government mismanagement!
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+2 #3 Mubiru 2024-07-10 17:40
The story has helped me devise a formula for accurately identifying thieves of public funds actively involved daily in corruption and bribery.

There is a saying in Luganda stating that the one caught digging a hole in a house to steal is the Thief. If you are not caught at the scene of the crime digging you are not a thief.

My formular for identification is very simple. Anyone who shouts most condemning corruption and bribery is one of the most corrupt thieves ever born in our country.

The innocent and incorruptible Ugandans are always quiet because they know that Empty vessels make most noise. I will cite just one a example among many decent noiseless incorruptible Ugandans who opted to suffer in silence.

Retired noiseless ARMY TOP man Mugisa Muntu would be filthy wealthy and possess anything if he never took the decision he opted to make. As Uganda today is ungovernable without being a military man Mugisa Muntu is suitable to be the next Uganda President.
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+3 #4 WADADA rogers 2024-07-10 18:21
This country is gone to the dogs
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+4 #5 thecommenter 2024-07-11 03:14
Finally, a story that shows both sides for what they are. When one highlights the fact the opposition in Ug is just as damaged, pple here call you names.

Even with the evidence, some remain fixated with one side. I’m all for govt change, but any objective person knows the apposition is not any better.
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+2 #6 kambarage 2024-07-11 03:55
Kudos to Anita Among for forwarding the report to CID for investigation.

These guys would never have been exposed without her action
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+2 #7 kambarage 2024-07-11 04:17
I am hoping that the claims about Oulanyah are false. Just hoping...because he was so highly regarded
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0 #8 Talemwa Alitubeera 2024-07-11 18:06
Never was a government that was not composed of liars, malefactors and thieves.

Marcus Tullius Cicero
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+2 #9 Donozio Bantama 2024-07-12 19:04
Quoting WADADA rogers:
This country is gone to the dogs

Mr Wadada, dogs are very intelligent animals more than the Ugandan thieves who are now an international spectacle !!

They are now international thieves, who will steal anything and everything if allowed to travel to a Western civilized country! This level of theft is simply unprecedented in all history and something must be done to stop it.
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0 #10 Mubiru 2024-07-12 22:24
Bantama is right. It's the dogs which are used to sniff out thieves though the saying seems to be misunderstood and misinterpreted literally.
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