April 26, 2013

Health Ministry PS Lukwago Accused Of Fraud

Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Asuman Lukwago was on Friday accused of instigating and abetting fraud in the ministry.

Dr Asuman Lukwago, the Health  Ministry's Permanent Secretary
Dr Asuman Lukwago, the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary

A visibly angry Moses Kamabare, the National Medical Stores (NMS) director ignited the fire after Northern Youth MP Anite Evelyn asked what happened to the 558,000 US dollars whose alleged disappearance Lukwago had asked police to investigate.

In January this year, PS Lukwago ran to the Criminal Investigations Directorate asking them to investigate an alleged fraud of the said money that was banked on an account with ABC Capital Bank.

Wanting to set the record straight, Kamabare started by stating he was offended by the PS Lukwago for alleging that NMS was directly involved in the fraud.

He stated that the payment was requisitioned by NMS from the Ministry of Health in March 2011. A letter the PS allegedly said looked genuine was received on the 19 November 2012. NMS requisitioned for the money but the ministry of health only paid 96,000 US Dollars for the Anti-Retroviral drugs.

Kamabare said PS Lukwago then got the balance of 462,000 Dollars and ordered that it be paid to a fraudulent account in ABC Bank.

He said that a look at both the letters revealed that those who forged the November 19 payment had not known that the 96,000 dollars had been paid.

Kamabare further revealed that the instructions put in the document by Lukwago was to three people including the assistant commissioner, accounts; head of internal audit and the programme manager ministry of health who all process payments.

Kamabare told the health committee of parliament that the internal auditor only came to see the payment after it was flashed out in the media and it was never passed to him by the ministry.

He also wanted the committee to question the speed of processing the payment since their requisition was made in 2011 and until to date the payment was not made.

However, the fraudulent requisition was purportedly made on the 19th of November, the same day the account was opened with ABC Capital Bank. The requisition then reached the PS Lukwago’s desk on 27th November 2012 and the three officers were asked to verify the payment the following day. Its payment instruction was given on the 6th of December 2012, according to Kamabare.

The NMS boss also revealed that while the ministry of health officials said they had so many documents that they had forgotten the proper NMS account number, Lukwago sent 13,000 dollars on the 4th of December to the same account for handling Tuberculosis medicines.

The PS Lukwago allegedly said that he heard that NMS was pursuing payments with Bank of Uganda to expedite purchases, a claim Kamabare dismissed saying Ministry of Health owes NMS seven billion shillings. However, records at Bank of Uganda show that it was instead the Ministry of health that was calling the Bank to expedite the payment.

Speaking to a silent and attentive committee room, Kamabare added that according to the ongoing CID investigations the signatories who were supposed to sign last actually signed first. The group that also signed the security paper did it from Entebbe Airport.

Lukwago in his response went religious saying that they are all created by God and he could not deny if the fraud originated from the Ministry.

However, this annoyed MP Anite who demanded that he also state facts instead of using God as an excuse.

The committee chairperson Sam Lyomoki had to intervene and asked that the CID which is already investigating the matter be allowed to do its job.

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