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IG Investigates NEMA Board Over Abuse of Office, Corruption :: Uganda Radionetwork
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IG Investigates NEMA Board Over Abuse of Office, Corruption

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In June of this year, a whistleblower wrote to the Inspector General of Government, alerting her to illegal activities that have been ongoing since the 8th board was established.
04 Sep 2023 09:54
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The board of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is under investigation by the Inspectorate of Government-IG for alleged abuse of office and corruption. According to Munira Ali, the Spokesperson of the Inspectorate of Government, the investigations were prompted by an anonymous whistleblower's petition containing various allegations against the NEMA board.    

"We have received the petition and have initiated the investigations to ascertain the details of the matter," Munira noted.  She, however, said that she couldn't provide further information on the case at the moment.  In June of this year, a whistleblower wrote to the Inspector General of Government, alerting her to illegal activities that have been ongoing since the 8th board was established.   

“This is to request you to inquire into these matters, take corrective action, and require the board to refund all the monies they have got from these irregularities,” the petition, which our reporter had the opportunity to review reads in part. The whistleblower also pointed out that the board had significantly abused their powers by diverting funds originally allocated for environmental management activities by increasing their retainer and sitting allowances by almost 400 percent.   

“This combined with very frequent meetings...has led to diversion of significant monies meant for activities to paying board allowances and related expenses. This explains why environment degradation is on the rise because the funds meant for activities are diverted to fund board exorbitance,” the petition added. 

The petitioner also noted the board's excessive meetings, including nearly daily gatherings in the months of April and May, have led to the board overstepping its Authority by taking on a more active role in the daily operations of the authority, effectively usurping the powers of the executive director. In other words, instead of focusing on oversight and providing guidance on critical matters, the board has become directly involved in the day-to-day decision-making process. 

Additionally, the petition revealed that the board irregularly carried out a restructuring within the organization and subsequently conducted irregular recruitment, awarding jobs to family members and friends, some of whom did not possess the necessary qualifications as specified in the job descriptions. 

“This has led to the board favoring their relatives and friends in recruitment...victimizing some staff resulting into unfair termination of employment contracts. Also, some people were shortlisted by the boards and interviewed without qualifications as specified in the job adverts,” the petitioner added and went on to list names of people who benefited and those who were affected.    

The restructuring process, termination of staff contracts, and recruitment were recently halted by Wilson Muluri Mukasa, the Minister of Public Service. He cited several irregularities in these actions that could potentially result in legal challenges and financial losses for the government. 

“I would like to guide as follows; any recruitment for either new appointments or replacements to fill the positions on the approved structure of NEMA should be stayed until further guidance by the attorney general in consultation with the ministry of public service,” the minister’s letter to the NEMA board chairperson read in part. 

Both the NEMA Executive Director Dr. Akankwasah Barirega and the Board Chairperson, Prof. James Okot-Okumu had not yet responded to repeated calls from our reporter for comment on the petition.

           

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