How Ndawula took bribes to compromise the investigation in the pension scandal
The Pension scandal remains of Uganda’s biggest corruption court scandals in the country. Three men Jimmy Lwamafa (former public service permanent secretary) to seven years in prison; Christopher Obey (former principal accountant) got 10 years; and Steven Kunsa Kiwanuka (former director of research and development) were convicted after they reportedly stole over sh88b.
“This syndicate was crafted in the ministry of public service, modified in the ministry of finance, smoothened in Bank of Uganda and perfected in Cairo bank,” Justice Lawrence Gidudu ruled while sentencing the trio in November 2016.
But despite the levels of massive criminality, one crafty journalist Stanley Ndawula then working with the Red Pepper publications sought to take advantage of the crime and crafted an idea which saw him get over sh1.3 billion from the suspects.
In between 2014 and 2015 as the pension scandal broke out and was being investigated, Ndawula approached the three principals with an idea of how to tone down the media coverage over the scandal,
Stanley Ndawula positioned himself as the man who could act as a conduit between the suspects and the Investigators and also the media
But as part of the deal, Ndawula requested the Pensions suspects to advance to him money that they could use to bribe the head of Criminal Investigations Directorate Grace Akullo and also pay the media owners not to publish the stories.
For Akullo, Ndawula requested for $500,000 (sh1.6bn) while for the journalists the amount of money asked was sh200m.
The Obey and group advanced Ndawula $350,000 (about sh1bn) and also advanced a deposit of sh150m as down payment for journalists to handle the stories.
In a subsequent interview with the Daily Monitor on April 2015 Akullo admitted that he met the suspects in his office and they demanded to know why she was pushing for their arrest but yet they had sent money.
“After ignoring several requests, I accepted to meet with Obey and another (two of the suspects in the case) here in my office. Uncomfortable closing the office with them inside, I asked my bodyguard to sit in the corridor and I left the door open,” Akullo said.
Obey was the chief accountant at the Ministry of Public Service, and he was accused of masterminding the scam. It emerged that he had acquired several properties in prime areas and a freeze was slapped on the properties during the investigations to-date.
“They asked me why I had continued to arrest them yet they had sent me money. I asked them, ‘which money?’ They told me that they had given Shs100m to Kato and Komurubuga (CID officers who were slater suspended) to bring to me and then $350,000 (about Shs1 billion) to a journalist, who I will not name, to buy me a house and bring the rest of the money to me,” Akullo said.
Ndawula never gave Akullo the money in question instead the ruthless journalist decided to book himself into the Golf course view apartments where he stayed close to two months at an average cost of sh500,000 per night eating and dining like a queen.
Few of the journalists who wrote the story were paid by Ndawula but the rest of the money was blown up in the hotel where he openly hosted night parties and also shopped for some of his mistresses who were in police.
Many say that Ndawula should have been in prison over the matter but instead the matter was covered up. Those who paid him the money also failed to track him down because they had been arrested and were behind bars in Luzira.
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