How Case of Market Vendor's Funds Stalled

To date, Sabila is yet to record a statement since he disappeared from his known address in Kampala and Kapchorwa districts.
Investigations into the Shillings 10 billion Presidential Initiative for Market Vendors stalled after police investigators failed to trace Jackson Sabila, the former Finance Manager of the Microfinance Support Center-MSC.

In 2011, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of 10 billion Shillings under the Presidential Initiative on market vendors and other small business operators to create a revolving fund through, which small businesses would access as working capital. 

Government disbursed the money to vendors through the Micro finance Support Center. However, in 2012 there were numerous complaints of mismanagement by Market Vendors prompting investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID). 

The CID Director, Grace Akullo constituted a team of five fraud investigators to handle the case. They raided the Microfinance support Center and picked up all documents relating to the funds. The officers photocopied the document and returned the originals to the Center. 

The investigations revealed both genuine and Ghost Savings and Cooperative Societies, which had been added on the list of beneficiaries, most of them not even in Markets. The Finance Ministry had through Keith Muhakanizi; the Secretary to the Treasury sent the list of beneficiaries to the Microfinance Support Center-MSC. 

However, an amended list was sent to Muhakanizi containing other groups, which he cleared without raising any questions. Muhakanizi became one of the key suspects in the investigations together with the then Finance Ministers, Syda Bbumba and Ruth Nankabirwa. 

The duo was implicated for adding Milk vendor's groups from their districts of Nakaseke and Kiboga on the list. Contrary to the purpose of the fund, the two ministers bought milk coolers for their voters at the tune of Shillings 1.2billion of the Market vendors fund.

The investigations also implicated Jackson Sabila, the then Finance Manager at the Microfinance Support Center who is alleged to have added ghost SACCOs like Kololo Market Vendors SACCOs but also accounted for groups, didn't receive the money like Ntinda Market Vendors. 

To date, Sabila is yet to record a statement since he disappeared from his known address in Kampala and Kapchorwa districts. The other suspect was Moses Byaruhanga, a senior Presidential Advisor on political affairs who added groups like Boda Boda 2010 on the list of beneficiaries, which received Shillings 500million. 

Abdul Kitaata, the chairman of Boda Boda 2010 also became a suspect when he failed to provide accountability for the money given to them. One of the investigators told URN on condition of anonymity that to date Kitatta hasn't recorded a statement, adding that he kept tearing the police summons sent to him and telling detectives that only the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi and the then Inspector General of Police-IGP Kale Kayihura could serve him.

"We could have arrested him but we all feared him. He had Kayihura's backing," the detective said. However, the detective recorded statements from the groups, which appeared on the list as having received the money. Some had never received the money while others were told it was a political hand out with each market vendor ending up with between Shillings 20,000 and 30,000.

To support the investigations, the Auditor General also conducted a special Audit into the Shillings 10billion Presidential Initiative for Market Vendors. The Special Audit also implicated Muhakanizi, Byaruhanga, Bbumba, Nankabirwa and Kitatta as the key suspects as had been established by the CID investigations.

With an attachment from the Special Audit Report and their statement, the detectives compiled a file and sent it to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in 2013 for perusal and sanction with tentative charges of abuse of office, embezzlement, conspiracy to commit fraud and fraud among others. The DPP returned the file to CID month's later showing that the case couldn't proceed. 

"The case cannot proceed without statements from the key suspect Jackson Sabila,” read a comment from the DPP. Attempts by police to trace Sabila hit a snag prompting them to shelve the file to date. The Police spokesperson in charge of CID Vincent Ssekate, said, "I know we conducted that investigation years ago but am not aware of how far it has gone now."