The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, yesterday indicated that the arrangement to pay Shs6 billion to selected government officials who were involved in oil cases was illegal and warned that “conflict of interest has over-run government.”
Ms Mulyagonja told the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) that the Inspectorate has not opened an investigation into the presidential golden handshake payment because no complaint has been filed.
With no official investigation into the matter and hearing from the officials involved, Ms Mulyagonja indicated that Section 2 and 3 of the IGG Act precludes her from tabling a comprehensive position on the initiation and payment of Shs6b to some 42 selected government officials.
But Ms Mulyagonja explained that “there is not an iota of the law in (the) justification” of the Shs6b payment, saying that it is “scary” how conflict of interest has permeated government.
Government’s justification of the payment is that it is backed by the Public Service Standing Orders and Article 98 and 99 of the Constitution which give the President executive powers.
“I am aware of the difficulty this Committee is going through due to the fact that the Office of the Attorney General or its predecessors as well as officers in its chambers are under investigation. What seems to be scary to the Inspectorate is that everyone who should have been giving advice, everyone who should have been saying this is what should be done and this is how it should be done is actually being questioned,” Ms Mulyagonja said.
Ms Mulyagonja also rejected Secretary to Cabinet John Mitala’s interepretation of Article 98 and 99, explaining that the President is not above the law as had been argued by Mr Mitala as he defended President Museveni’s role in the payment.
Two former Attorney Generals (Peter Nyombi and Fred Ruhindi), Solicitor General Francis Atoke, Director Legal Services Christopher Gashirabake and seven other senior officials from the Attorney General’s chambers are among the beneficiaries of the Shs6b that are under investigation.
The Auditor General will on Thursday file an audit report detailing the source of the Shs6b after Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General Doris Akol initially claimed it was sourced from the Tax Refund account but turned around to say it was obtained from Legal Expenses vote of the URA budget.
Earlier, Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile revealed that $696m accrued from Capital Gains Tax(CGT) and Non Tax Revenue(NTR). Mr Mutebile will re-appear before the Committee to give a comprehensive report on the status of oil revenues.
Separately, $2m was paid by Oil exploration companies to the Energy ministry in payment for mineral royalties, surface rentals and clearing fees.
With reports that oil revenues may have been used irregularly by government officials, the committee was assigned by Parliament to establish all revenue so far received by government in the Petroleum Fund.
Ms Mulyagonja said: “If you ask them: What was your role? What are they going to say? You are going to see the justification that was given. There is not an iota of the law in that justification. Who was responsible for it? Who was supposed to tell the President if there is a bonus to be given? Who is to advise who? If there is money to be sourced from somewhere, who is supposed to show them what the proper source of this money is?”