BY PEPPER INTELLIGENCE UNIT
A report by a whistleblower to Education Minister Janet Museveni and the Inspectorate of Government has shed light into hitherto unknown Mafioso style dealings at Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
The dossier in our possession, paints a picture of an institution that has been captured by an Octopus-like monster organisation composed of mafia whose interest is money.
This octopus organization, according to the dossier, has created a toxic atmosphere and a general mistrust among the University community towards the Government in whose name they claim to be acting.
The dossier reveals that, in the process, this Octopus Organisation have managed to create a patronage and corrupt system that they exploit for their self-enrichment through constant manipulation of University systems, processes, policies and activities.
Under the grip of this octopus organization, the dossier adds that Management and Council became one juggernaut of improprieties, whose members arrogantly placed themselves above scrutiny, transparency and accountability.
As a result, they operate as a criminal enterprise, contemptuous of laws and regulations and dealing ruthlessly with whoever is seen as standing in their way.
Using their access to institutional resources, they openly and frequently dare anyone to question them or initiate legal action against them.
As a result, any attempt to question or expose their misconducts and improprieties are invariably regarded as acts of indiscipline and insubordination for which critics are irregularly subjected to disciplinary action, which are often predetermined to result in suspensions or dismissals.
The Octopus Organisation in the University Management and Council, the dossier adds, seem to view their tenures as opportunities for self-enrichment.
The 23 individuals named in this dossier who comprise this octopus-like monster organization include a former top official and his several mistresses who are employed at MUBS.
The accomplices include officials in revenue and bursar offices, administrative assistants, council officials, directors, and security personnel among others.
This octopus organization is said to have allegedly accumulated staggering amounts of wealth in the form of expensive vehicles and properties worth billions of shillings spread all over Kampala and upcountry.
It adds that this mafia is strategically placed in all departments that matter including Council (the university’s top decision making body), management, appointments unit, finance unit and in the areas of procurement.
“I am a concerned staff member of Makerere University Business School in a Senior Administrative position. I wish to report that an Administrative staff of MUBS in Strategy unit was summarily and unfairly dismissed because of the sensitive information he had against Prof… and the listed officers above on their dirty dealings in the institution. That Administrative staff was unfairly dismissed after reporting to Prof…about the sensitive information little did he know that Prof… himself was personally involved hence being victimized and dismissed unfairly. He appealed to the Staff Tribunal but his case was predetermined and was dismissed. He is now being hunted because his tormentors above want to kill him because of the information he holds against them. I now petition your Honorable office to investigate this matter and the affected staff be reinstated,” the whistleblower points out.
The whistleblower says he is not the only one who was dismissed unfairly on the instigation of this octopus organisation.
He talks of another case involving Muwaabe Mubarak, an Assistant lecturer in the department of marketing and management at Jinja Campus, who unilaterally, removed him from payroll pending consideration of his matter. However, since August 2019 the disciplinary committee heard his case and considered a reinstatement and payment of his arrears, but up to date this staff is not yet back and his career progress is important.
“I request that his case too, be investigated and staff be reinstated and also investigate whether his salary arrears still exist in the suspense account of the school for periods since August 2019 to date. The appointments board and council are not in possession of such a decision for the last four years. His money in arrears is ugx. 2,687,500 for 48 months amounting to a total of ugx. 130,000,000.”
Other targeted staff who fell out with the octopus organization and reportedly forced to resign from their academic leadership positions include Prof. Stephen Nkundabanyanga and Prof. Sulait Tumwiine, Prof. Rogers Mwesigwa. Others were reportedly coerced to resign their Management positions illegally. Other Deans such as Dr. Isaac Magoola and Dr. James Akampumuza were reportedly illegally suspended from the School. Dr Magoola’s case was decided by the high court in which the high court ordered for his reinstatement, a decision yet to be respected.
Other deans allegedly victimized are Dr. Geoffrey Bakunda and Prof. Geoffrey Mayoka Kituyi.
“Prof… spearheaded a corrupt team of officers in the School. He supervised and aided to cover the concerned staff by dismissing an Administrative staff in Strategy unit and transferring his ally the former manager Strategy unit Nanmbi to another unit. He also suspended Lubwa as a way of covering up himself since Lubwa was dealing with him…This has eroded the quality of management in the School as Members of Management with dissenting views are punished illegally and severely,” the whistleblower observes.
The whistleblower also wants the 23 members of the octopus organization probed over grand theft.
He cites many stolen properties including but not limited to Two School generators (one of 200KV valued at Shs. 500,000,000 and the other of 93KV donated by the African Development Bank valued at Shs. 350,000,000); Main Library lift valued at US$ 65,000; Maroon Nissan Patrol Motor Vehicle Registration Number UAA 052F that was due for disposal; Assorted items for disposal; Office furniture for the Office of the Principal and Deputy Principal; and Block One building items recovered after the building was demolished; Hospital beds, over 500 chairs, container, computers were stolen.
The dilemma is that some concerned officials, after learning of the thefts, aided in covering up and only suspended one administrative staff instead of handling it as a criminal case.
That payment of invoices without goods being delivered in the right quantity and quality is the order of the day.
The whistleblower cites some cases where payments were made for procurement of new office laptop computers but instead, used computers were packaged in new housing and delivered. There is also another incident where a payment of 50 new computers was made yet only 40 were delivered. The varsity made a loss of shs36m. Also sometime back, a payment was made for 10 hospital tables, 10 arm chairs, and 5 hospital beds. However, only 5 tables picked from existing Ph.D. furniture were delivered to the Health Center. Further, only 5 armless plastic chairs were delivered as seen in the School Doctor’s report.
In 2021, the whistleblower also point out how payment for civil repair works on the Main Building were made where new iron sheets were supposed to be bought and installed. However, the contractor allegedly painted the old iron sheets.
Other alleged incidences where there was full payment for incomplete civil works include the following:
Incomplete access roads constructed by Destiny Engineering Company which is owned by a Council member. That Destiny Engineering Company was contracted to construct the access road from the Main Gate to the Library in FY 2017/18. However, to date, the road is incomplete and yet they were fully paid. The dilemma is that the owner, being a council member, is not allowed to contract works for the School.
The incomplete boundary wall was constructed by Kisinga Construction Company. Staff and students’ parking yard constructed by Ferguson Enterprises Ltd owned by MUBS staff.
There is also alleged refusal to pay contractors who fail to give bribes as commission. This was reportedly seen in the case of Comico International Limited whose payment was denied for refusal to give a percentage of it in bribes.
There are also allegations of maintaining ghost staff on the MUBS payroll by the alleged mafia octopus organisation. These reportedly include Kalifani Darilu, Alitusabira Rachael, Byamukama David, Omwine Johnson, Faruk Abdulbast, Ocho Paul, Isongoma Edwin, among others.
IRREGULAR RECRUITMENTS OF STAFF
The octopus organization is also accused of being behind alleged recruitment of unqualified academic staff who were still students and had retakes. Some of these include Robinson Ogwang, a former Guild President, who had a retake (failed) in Accounting II but was recruited as a Teaching Assistant, and moreover, with a Second-Class Lower degree. There is also Kakai Nimrod (recruited with a retake) and one Vincent Balikudembe.
“Further, most of the over 400 staff who were recruited never went through Management Committee Meetings. Some were recruited without even applying for the jobs. They were called to pick appointment letters and then asked to write and back date their job applications. This is destroying the academic system in MUBS,” the whistleblower stresses.
The recruitment decision also reportedly undermined the President’s directive on recruitments.
According to the dossier, in 2020 when there was a COVID 19 outbreak, the President directed all government ministries and agencies to stop recruitments. This was further emphasized by circulars from the Ministries of Public Service and Finance, Planning & Economic Development. In the circulars, Accounting Officers were directed not to recruit staff without budget approval by the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development. However, on the instigation of the octopus organization, MUBS went ahead and recruited new staff during COVID 19 lockdown when the School was closed. This has reportedly increased the wage bill deficit from Shs. 3 billion to over Shs. 25 billion currently. Because of this, many staff are underpaid outside the established salary structure issued by the PS, Ministry of Public Service.
There are also allegations of misappropriation of Shs. 3.92 billion staff salary enhancement funds given by the Government to enhance salaries of staff who were and still are being underpaid.
The whistleblower also pins the octopus organization on the irregular creation of new departments and faculties and appointment of Heads and Campus Directors who do not qualify.
That despite the wage bill deficit of Shs. 25 billion, some top officials unilaterally created new departments without approval of the Academic Board. Allies who are unqualified to head newly created departments and regional campuses were reportedly appointed. According to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2006 as amended, academic heads of departments, deans and directors should be elected and must be at the rank of Senior Lecturer and above. However, this is not the case with the alleged appointments since junior staff below the rank of Senior Lecturer were allegedly appointed to head departments.
The whistleblower also wants a probe on how Prof. Richard Akisimire was appointed the Assistant Director Academic Affairs at Mbarara Campus and yet this position is not in the MUBS Structure.
FAILURE TO REMIT PAY AS YOU EARN (PAYE) TO URA
The whistleblower further alleges that over the years, MUBS has not been remitting the right PAYE and other taxes to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). That this is made possible through a high-level syndicate orchestrated by the octopus organisation and their accomplices at the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development.
That for instance, a taxable payment to heads of departments and administrative units, deans, Principal and Deputy Principal dubbed “Responsibility allowance” is currently being paid as a non-taxable item in the name of “Research allowance” in order to evade tax and NSSF. This has led to loss of Government Revenue in billions of shillings. “In the year 2020, a whistleblower reported this criminal act to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit but to date, no action has been preferred against the culprits,” writes the whistleblower adding that MUBS has also not been remitting the correct amount of staff NSSF and in a timely manner as per the law.
IRREGULAR PAYMENT OF RESPONSIBILITY ALLOWANCE
The octopus organization has reportedly abused this fund in many ways. Some officials reportedly single-handedly determine how much to pay the beneficiaries. For example, some pay themselves a responsibility allowance of over Shs. 40,000,000 per month, whereas faculty deans and heads of departments get only Shs. 3,000,000 and Shs. 2,500,000 respectively yet donkey work is done by heads and deans.
The octopus organization also stands accused of running expenditure accounts in the School yet according to the Government, all School revenue should be deposited the URA accounts and expenses go through IFMIS.
These accounts are reportedly used to channel out stolen money. For example, an account run by the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center was used to irregularly pay out an average of Shs. 1.5 billion per month. An analysis of sample payments through this account shows the following: Shs. 2,516,104,309 paid out in July 2022, Shs. 1,694,063,955 paid in August 2022, Shs. 1,480,966,742 paid out in September 2022, Shs. 1,955,153,613 paid October 2022, Shs. 1,182,805,294 paid in November 2022, Shs. 1,436,110,450 paid in December 2022, Shs. 1,147,447,526 paid in January 2023, Shs. 1,511,434,132 paid in February 2023, Shs. 1,156,285,863 paid in March 2023.
The whistleblower wants an audit of this account in order to establish the source of funds and the beneficiaries for the past 5 years.
TUITION PAID TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS
There are also allegations of collecting students’ tuition through staff accounts instead of depositing on URA accounts as per Government directive.
It is reported that a staff by the name Nabun collected over Shillings one billion tuition from students using a personal account. However, when Internal Audit unearthed this theft and brought it to the attention of bosses, she was transferred to the Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. This was reportedly never reported and other corruption cases to the Uganda Police or even MUBS Management. That all staff in the Revenue Office who were in the know of corruption practices were recently transferred to academic units in order to cover up the fraudulent acts in the Revenue Office.
There are also allegations of approval of payments of procurement invoices through personal accounts of staff at the School.
Furthermore, there are allegations of continued operation of expenditure accounts in the Dean of Students Office. despite a government directive to close all School accounts and have all fees paid to the Uganda Revenue Authority.
There is also a talk of paying personal staff using MUBS funds. That some octopus organization members have recruited personal staff including shamba boys, gardeners, cooks, maids and security guards in their various homes and these are being paid from the consolidated fund yet they are only entitled to such staff in one home.
There is an administrator who is a mistress to a top official at MUBS who is reportedly a beneficiary of illegal transactions channeled through the Dean of Students’ account coming through embezzlement of students’ leaving out allowances. That she was irregularly promoted from the position of Administrative Assistant to the position of Senior Administrator without ever working as an Administrator as stipulated in the Human Resources Manual. That shs20m was recently spent on her trip to Zanzibar to celebrate a birthday party this year. The whistleblower now wants a lifestyle audit be conducted on her various properties which she has acquired using fraudulently obtained funds from the School due to her relationship with a top official.
Creation of illegal salary scales in the School outside the established Government salary structure.
Taking all Management retreats to one of the octopus organization members personal hotel located in Jinja where the hotel bills given to MUBS are highly inflated compared to market rates.
Embezzling over Shs. 2.9 billion given to the MUBS Economic Forum for MUBS staff to conduct research. That only Shs. 25m has been given to staff to conduct research out of the Shs. 3 billion given by the Government.
Alleged abuse of the MTN Student to Employee programme funds which have never been declared to the School for many years.
Abuse of World Bank funds which have never been declared to the School.
A need for a value for money audit on the renovated lecture room blocks, the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center building, and NORAD building. “Despite being new, the buildings have already developed cracks. In fact, all buildings that have been renovated were used as a conduit to steal money as poor-quality works were done.”
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