The Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) desk officer for Arua district, Paul Ebodo, has gone missing following the alleged mismanagement of sh509m sent to the district to pay suppliers.
Consequently, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) has suspended further the funding to Arua district following suspected theft of sh509m sent to the district under the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) III project. The IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, said she had commenced investigations into the suspected theft of the cash and disappearance of Ebodo.
In her letter dated December 7, to the permanent secretary Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Christine Guwatudde, the IGG said the sh509m that was reportedly stolen, was meant to pay a group of beneficiary suppliers of agricultural products and beehives in Arua district under NUSAF III.
“On being required to pay the suppliers or render accountability for the funds meant to pay the suppliers, Ebodo absconded from duty and is believed to have fled from justice, having stolen or misappropriated the money,” Mulyagonja wrote.
She said the inspectorate was investigating to establish how Ebodo executed the scheme with a view to prosecute him together with any other accomplices that may be found culpable of participating, aiding or abetting the theft, and recover the money.
Mulyagonja, therefore, directed the OPM to suspend the disbursement of money to Arua. However, the IGG said paying money for any ongoing project where commitments had been made but was pending, may be made to avoid incurring further unnecessary liabilities and disruptions.
The suspension of the funds to Arua has since been announced by the NUSAF director, Dr Robert Limlim and state minister for northern Uganda, Grace Kwiyucwiny, during a recent visit to Arua. The Arua district Police commander, Henry Kintu, said the matter had been brought to their attention and they were investigating it.
“Ebodo is not in Arua. He must be hiding somewhere outside the district,” Kintu said.
Other cases related to NUSAF include two officials who were arrested in Karamoja sub-region in May 2015 over the embezzling of sh448m. The suspects were Miriam Lochero, the NUSAF desk officer and Mark Alimo, the NUSAF chief mobiliser for Amudat town council.
The arrests followed complaints from the local community to the then Amudat resident district commissioner, Stephen Nsubuga Bewayo. In November 2007, Police arrested five former NUSAF officials over mismanagement of projects in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions.
The arrests came after President Yoweri Museveni directed an investigation into the fund. It followed complaints during the President’s tour that local communities had not benefited from the scheme.