There was commotion at the Anti-Corruption court in Kampala as UPDF Director for Assessment of the UPDF Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuity, was being charged over defrauding the Government a tune of sh51.6m, which was irregularly paid to Rtd. Lt. Col. Smith Ochieng as gratuity.
Court details show that Maj. Henry Bantariza was charged with two counts of abuse of office, embezzlement and conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Section 11, 19 and 309 of the Anti-Corruption and Penal Code Act, respectively.
According to Uganda’s Constitution Maj Bantariza may face a sentence of seven years if he is convicted on the account of abuse of office while embezzlement attracts 14 years, and conspiring with someone to defraud, the accused may face a maximum of three years.
He is battling the charges with David Wambi, 35, the defence ministry senior welfare officer; Jalia Farida Buga, 34, the planning officer and Emmanuel Jesse Mwalye, 35, the systems administrator of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) in the public service ministry.
While in court Maj Bantariza pleaded not guilty. The senior state prosecutor, Harriet Angom, informed court that investigations are still ongoing and asked for an adjournment. However, Bantariza lawyers didn’t hesitate to apply for bail, submitting that the offences are bailable and that the accused is the breadwinner in his family.
According to a Local News Paper New Vision, Bantariza lawyers also told court that the accused is willing to abide by all the conditions of court, including attending trial, up to the end. The lawyer, subsequently, presented to court three sureties — Maj. Allan Kahindi Sabiiti, 46; Gordon Muyambi Kakuta, 43 and businesswoman Christine Kyobutungi, 41, as sureties.
The state did not object to the bail application, but asked the court to impose stringent conditions that will compel the accused to appear in court for trial. In his ruling, the magistrate released the accused on a cash bail of sh5m and directed his sureties to execute a non-cash bond of sh20m. The court has issued criminal summons against Wambi, Buga and Mwalye to appear in court on May 27, to plead to the charges.
Prosecution alleges that Wambi and Buga, in October last year, at UPDF Chieftaincy of Pension and Gratuity offices in Bombo, Luwero district, stole sh51.6m, the property of their employer, which they accessed by virtue of their offices. Maj. Bantariza is accused of irregularly causing double payment of sh51.6m to Ochieng, in contravention of the established procedures for processing and paying gratuity to UPDF retired personnel, in the same year.
It is further alleged that Maj. Bantariza, in abuse of the authority of his office, caused unauthorized automation of names on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) for payment of gratuity to retired UPDF soldiers, in violation of the established procedures for automating such names.
Prosecution also alleges that Mwalye in October 2018, at the public service ministry offices in Wandegeya, Kampala, in abuse of the authority of his office, did an arbitrary act prejudicial to the interest of his employer when he irregularly automated names for payment of gratuity to retired UPDF personnel.
Some Contents derived from New Vision