Ghost Beneficiaries Cited in NUSAF-III Project in Agago

Martin Okwera, the Community Project Management Committee chairperson says a recent assessment found only 85 members of the group have since the inception of the project last year been active.
Agago Resident District Commissioner Andrew Onyuk has ordered for summoning of executive leaders of Oporot tree planting group over alleged corruption.

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Beneficiaries under the Northern Uganda Social Action Plan Phase three (NUSAFIII) Project in Agago District have accused their executive leaders of paying ghost beneficiaries.

Members of Oporot tree planting group in Patongo Town Council under the NUSAFIII Moo-Dege watershed in February last year received 65 Million Shillings from the government to implement eucalyptus tree planting for business on two and half-acre piece of land.

A total of 136 members drawn from Oporot North village were registered to benefit from the government project aimed at eradicating poverty and environmental conservation. 

But Martin Okwera, the Community Project Management Committee chairperson says a recent assessment found only 85 members of the group has since the inception of the project last year been active.

He notes that the executive members of the group recently signed for payment of 136 members for labour provided in the planting of eucalyptus tree seedlings on two and a half acres’ piece of land.  He however says only 85 active members who had provided labour received payment while money meant for 51 inactive ghost members haven’t been accounted for.

According to Okwera each member of the group was supposed to receive 290,000 Shillings for labour provided in clearing the two and half-acre field for planting eucalyptus trees. He says close to 15 Million Shillings hasn’t been accounted for by the executive leaders that comprise the secretary, treasurer, and group chairperson.

Luo //Cue in: “koko wa tiye.. Cue out:…pi dano 51.”//

He also alleges that unclear deduction has also been made on savings of group members citing that the members are getting less than the shillings 81,000 they are meant to get.

The group members also accuse their executives of failing to follow the transparent procurement of eucalyptus seedlings. One of the members who preferred anonymity alleged that a total of 3,300 eucalyptus trees seedlings procured by the executives were never planted and are alleged to have dried up.

He notes that although no receipts were presented to the project management committee, the executive members purport each seedling was procured at 300 Shillings but a separate investigation indicates the members procured at 500 Shillings. 

Okwera has called on the district leaders to intervene and investigate the management of the group and the Patongo Town council NUSAFIII facilitator over mismanagement of funds.

Francis Odok, Patongo Town Council NUSAFIII Facilitator who has been accused of siding with the executive leaders of the group declined to comment on the matter and referred this reporter to the Nusaf Desk Officer (NDO).

Prossy Atim, Agago District Nusaf Desk Officer acknowledged releasing money meant to pay members of the group on request by the group’s executive leaders.

She says a week ago, she received a complaint that 51 ghost persons in the group were accounted for in the money released for the group yet they didn’t participate in working.

According to Atim, the executive leaders have now been ordered to make a refund for the money which hasn’t been paid out adding that failure to do so will warrant action against them.

Efforts to get comments from Oporot tree planting group Treasurer and the secretary were futile by press time as their known phones numbers were all unavailable.

Andrew Onyuk, Agago Resident District Commissioner, says the three executive leaders of the group will be summoned for questioning. 

NUSAFIII Project which became effective in March 2016 and implemented through the office of the Prime Minister with funding from the World Bank is expected to end on June 30 this year.