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MPs Grill Soroti University Officials Over Funds, Management

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However, the MPs were reluctant to listen to any more demands from the University official until a full report on the previous allocations is provided. Opolot noted that the university lacks an accounting officer currently.
Officials from Soroti University led by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Ikoja Odongo at Parliament.

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The Education Committee has thrown out Soroti University for alleged failure to provide accountability for Shillings 5.3 billion. The team had appeared before the Committee led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Robert Ikoja Odongo and Academic Registrar, James Okello Opolot to explain their budget frame work paper for the 2020/2021 financial year.

Trouble for the officials started when Prof. Ikoja noted that the University will require additional Shillings 16.4 billion to construct an anatomy laboratory. This is in addition to Shillings 17.7 billion allocated to the university in the 2020/2021 financial year.  

His submission left the Committee chairperson, Jacob Opolot confounded since according to the committee, Shillings 5.3 billion was provided to the university for the same task through a supplementary budget. Opolot was alarmed that no work has been done so far and instead management was asking for additional funds to start construction.  

He expressed frustration with Soroti University, saying the administration is dogged by corruption scandals and nearly half of the top managers had been indicted and charged with corruption offences.  Opolot also interrogated the Vice Chancellor on what had led to the resignation of several University Council members. 

In his response, Prof. Odongo said that he didn’t know why the council members resigned; saying he only received their resignations letter, which didn’t specify any reasons. Odongo had also requested for Shillings 9.4 billion in extra wage and non-wage funding and Shillings 3 billion to collaborate with Soroti Hospital to expand the surgical theaters, mortuary and but training equipment. 

However, the MPs were reluctant to listen to any more demands from the University official until a full report on the previous allocations is provided. Opolot noted that the university lacks an accounting officer currently. He warned that should the university fail to improve its affairs; the committee will not receive its ministerial policy statement. He gave the officials up to March to solve their issues.  

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Lira Woman MP, Joy Atim Ongom and Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante emphasized the need for the University management to account for funds earlier appropriated to them by parliament before any further discussions on their budget.

In April last year, the Soroti University Secretary, Ruth Etibot Achimo was arraigned before the Anti-Corruption Court and charged with diversion of Shillings 1.6 billion meant for capital development to payment of employee allowances, rent, retainer fees, inland travel disbursement and legal fees.      

 

Four other Soroti university officials were jointly charged for mismanagement of Shillings 15.9 million. They included the Assistant Estates Officer, David Omeke, Internal Auditor, James Odongo, Acting Bursar, Gilbert Otim and Acting University Secretary, Samuel Omoding. 

The four are reported to have requisitioned, processed and made payment of Shillings 15.9 million to themselves and to others purportedly to facilitate their participation in the high level inauguration of the Private-Public-Partnership Conference of 2019 at Kampala Serena Hotel that ran from September 16th to 18th 2019.  

This followed complaints received by the Anti–Corruption Unit in State House relating to abuse of office, embezzlement, causing financial loss, soliciting and bribery and mismanagement of Shillings 5.3 billion, among others.