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Ministry of Health transport officer fined Shs 22.5m, demoted for abuse of office


The Leadership Code Tribunal (LCT) has discovered a senior assistant secretary/transport officer on the ministry of Health, James Tukahirwa, responsible of abuse of public property. 

In an 11-page ruling delivered in Kampala on April 20, the tribunal ordered Tukahirwa to pay Shs 22.5m to make good the loss and injury induced to the federal government vehicles that he “abused and misused”.


“This money should be deposited on the Inspectorate of Government Asset Recovery Account with the Bank of Uganda. The respondent [Tukahirwa] be demoted henceforth while the seized vehicles should be returned to the ministry of Health and the building materials be returned to him,” reads the ruling. 

Tukahirwa was represented by Fred Ruhindi of Messrs Ruhindi and Co. Advocates whereas the applicant was represented by Daniel Achato and Rebecca Naomi Nalweyiso from the Inspectorate of Government (IG).

He breached Section 12B of the Leadership Code of Conduct when he used the Health ministry automobiles registration numbers UG 6945M and UG 6646m for private use. 

The automobiles, meant to assist the Covid-19 response, have been used to move constructing and building supplies to his non-public websites in Kyegegwa, Kazo, Ntungamo districts, and Munyonyo in Kampala. 

On December 14, 2021, the IG seized the automobiles, constructing supplies, and Shs 28,245,000 money that was discovered with one among his drivers. For rapid remittance of the Shs 22.5m, the tribunal ordered the IG to make use of the seized money to pay the effective and return the stability to him.

Tukahirwa has additionally been ordered to pay the prices of the appliance. The IG will, ordinarily inside every week after this judgment, current a invoice of prices to the LCT registrar who will in flip decide the monies that will probably be paid. 

The tribunal consists of 5 members who work full time; Dr Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa (chairperson), lawyer and former cupboard minister Asuman Kiyingi (deputy chairperson), Jane Alum Okelowange, Didas Bakunzi Mufasha, and Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso as members. 

WHY THE DECISION

In one of many classes final month, the IG attorneys argued that Tukahirwa be dismissed from public service or demoted and the portfolio of transport officer be scrapped from him. In the choice, he must be retired within the public curiosity. 

His lawyer prayed for leniency given his plea of guilt that saved the courtroom’s time, his remorsefulness, and the truth that he was a first-time offender in his 32 years of public service. He additionally requested a warning or warning in addition to agreeing to pay the Shs 22.5m effective.

The five-man workforce as an alternative dominated that: “We have heard the arguments….. However, abuse of government property is a serious breach. In the current case, caution or warning might appear like a slap on the wrist.”

The tribunal didn’t additionally settle for Tukahirwa’s rationalization that he was underneath the mistaken perception that the automobiles that had been donated by the general public for Covid-19 aid have been a part of the welfare scheme of the Health ministry.

It additional added that he’s an skilled senior official who knew or must have identified higher.

“This was a breach of trust by an officer who was supposed to be an example to others as a supervisor. The respondent, in his admission and the testimony of the drivers, proved that this abuse was repeatedly committed but not detected, corrected, and/or punished by the health ministry as required by the public service standing orders, 2021,” reads the ruling. 

This, the tribunal, famous that it factors to a weak point within the well being ministry’s inner management techniques, which must be addressed urgently.

Speaking to The Observer after the ruling, the LCT chairperson, Dr Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa, urged public officers to familiarize themselves with the Leadership Code Act whereas on responsibility. 

“People have been getting away with some of these breaches in case they are not covered by the Anti-Corruption court. The tribunal took a long to come about but we are here and we mean business. We didn’t come here to play or joke around. The punishments are clear if you abuse public property,” Karugonjo-Segawa stated. 

She added: “The vehicles were impounded by the IG in December 2021 but the case was sent to the LCT in March and disposed of this April. As a tribunal, we are supposed to work expeditiously in bringing about justice in this country. Right now, we have no case backlog. We intend to make a mark on this country in eradicating corruption because it hurts ordinary people who are meant to get a public service.”

Meanwhile, the LCT is a tribunal with powers of the High courtroom. Tukahirwa now has 30 days from the judgment day to attraction to the High Court if he feels aggrieved by the choice taken towards him. 

The tribunal has to date heard and disposed of all of the seven instances it has obtained from the IG since its inception. Of these, six have been associated to the non-declaration of property. In the 5 instances, respondents paid fines and declared their property whereas one case was withdrawn by the IG as a result of they felt the particular person mustn’t have been delivered to the tribunal. 

ABOUT THE TRIBUNAL

The LCT has the mandate to listen to and decide all breaches of the Leadership Code of Conduct referred to it by the IG. It additionally hears appeals from the general public the place the IG both rejects an utility for or doesn’t grant entry to the declaration of a frontrunner or public officer (Section 7(7) of the Leadership Code Act 2002).

Where an individual is discovered responsible, penalties vary from warnings, warning, fines, demotion, dismissal from workplace, the holiday of workplace, confiscation of undeclared or illegally acquired property, withholding emoluments, and making good the loss occasioned to authorities property. 

nangonzi@observer.ug





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