UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) raided the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) and arrested four senior officials on allegations of fraud.
The principal land officer, internal auditor, senior finance officer, and senior accountant were taken to CID headquarters, where they recorded statements.
CID arrested the trio in connection with payments to ghost beneficiaries during the government’s acquisition of land. The purported fraud, which has cost the taxpayer about Shs25b, has been ongoing for over two years.
The perpetrators would allegedly register different beneficiaries for the same property, compelling the government to make double payments. These often looked out for beneficiaries with over two names; they would then re-arrange the names to make them seem like different persons while keeping the land size, location, and other details the same. Therefore, payment would be paid to the real owners and other ghost beneficiaries.
CID spokesperson Mr Charles Twiine said they were looking for more accomplices in the matter.
“It is true that the three suspects have been detained and evidence has been retrieved. I can’t share details right now,” Mr Twiine said further.
On 5th October 2021, during the Tuesday raid on ULC offices, police also seized computers and some documents.
In addition, investigations showed that some bank accounts are in names different from those due for compensation. The detectives are now hunting for people who withdrew the money that was sent to different bank accounts by the Uganda Land Commission officials.
Furthermore, the suspects are alleged to have paid money to beneficiaries, yet the Uganda Land Commission officials would deliberately not transfer the property titles into government names.
In addition, other beneficiaries have been getting payments without any valuation done as per the government compensation standards, prompting the detectives to query the compensation of some of these properties.
The CID raid on Uganda Land Commission offices followed a letter by Hon. Byenkya Beatrice Nyakaisis the chairperson of Uganda Land Commission to the Director of CID Grace Akullo requesting a thorough investigation into the fraud and corruption allegation at ULC.
“It has come to my knowledge that there is bribery and many irregularities in the management of Uganda land commission on several complaints that have been made to me,” read the letter.
Some irregularities cited in the letter being; overpayment of land fund claimants, irregularities on daily handling of taxpayer’s funds given to the entity, bribery of individuals when handling land fund and other business at Uganda Land Commission, fake land titling, non-compliance with Public Services rules and regulations, some actions by the technical going against the Commission’s decisions, and lack of value for money for the four cars recently acquired.
“Therefore, as the Chairperson of Uganda Land Commission, I hereby request that thorough investigations be carried out by the CID as a means towards better service delivery,” concludes Beatrice’s letter to the Director of CID with the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and State Minister of Lands in copy.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Judith Nabakooba, had earlier warned ministry officials about reports of corruption in the land system and promised to deal with anyone who engages in fraud.
In addition, the 2020 Auditor General’s report had already raised queries on the expenditure of the Uganda Land Commission.
“The payables balance for land compensation was Shs128b as on June 30, 2020. However, the relevant supporting journals and documents for the liability of Shs9.4b were not availed for review, rendering the genuineness of the liabilities doubtful. In addition, payables amounting to Shs15b were overstated in relation to the claim balance due to the church,” the Auditor General’s report reads in part.
The report further established that ULC does not have a land inventory and database for all government land and properties under its jurisdiction that are either occupied by tenants, vacant, acquired under-compensation (but not yet re-distributed to the bonafide occupants), or acquired and owned by other government institutions and missions abroad.
READ MORE LIKE THIS: