Despite a stained legacy according to President Museveni’s critics, former Electoral Commission chairman Eng. Badru Kiggundu has been zeroed on as the right man to investigate a procurement scandal that has engulfed Uganda’s Ministry of Defence and the national army – Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF)’s Kiweweta Recruit Training School.
Dr. Kiggundu who is also chairing a project steering committee to oversee the successful completion of Karuma and Isimba hydropower projects, has been once again tasked by Museveni alongside several individuals to look into the scam involving a little-known businessman and Defence officials through collusion and outright plunder in a series of contracts, including the Shs76 billion project.
Kiggundu’s appointment follows a slow and unfruitful UPDF internal investigations, which indicate that the businessman Eria Mubiru and his companies J2E Investment Corporation Limited, Roester Construction Corporation and some Defence officials have fleeced the Defence ministry of billions of shillings in inflated and dubious contracts.
The contract costs were overstated to Shs37b and the reasonable amount for the five separate contracts should have been at most Shs30b , and not Shs76b as stated.
The rot in UPDF procurement
Mr Mubiru’s companies are accused of fraudulent procurement, presenting fake profiles of employees to win contracts, concocted books of accounts, tax evasion and failure to execute works paid for.
Daily Monitor in March claimed to be in possession the army’s investigation documents, in which the UPDF accuses its own officers of collusion with Mubiru’s companies to fleece ministry of Defence.
Following several queries about the Infrastructure Development project at Kaweweta Recruit Training School, the army launched an investigation and released its report on October 22, 2015. The report states that Phase One of the project was awarded to J2E Investment Corporation at Shs2.2b under the Bid Acceptance on March 11, 2010.
However, the report says, the works were meant for Bihanga Training School in Ibanda District and it’s not clear how they were transferred to Kaweweta RTS.
Kaweweta training school was commissioned on September 14, 2012 and the same year, Mr Mubiru’s company supplied furniture worth Shs700m without a valid contract or purchase order.
Former deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Charles Angina’s team says in some instances the companies started work before the bidding opened and would be awarded contracts half-way the project to formalise the process.
The J2E was also awarded Phase Two of Kaweweta project at Sh26.3 billion and received advance payment of 88 per cent of the contract sum, but the works stalled with “no cause for delay by the contractor.”
The same company, under a separate bid, was awarded another contract worth Shs6.4 billion for emergency water works at Kaweweta. The works were meant to start on July 30, 2014, but did not. The excuse given was that the works would disrupt the training of recruits, but the same company was contracted again for Shs3.6b to build a parade ground at Kaweweta and received Shs2.6b in advance. Again the works did not start and in the meantime works for the project’s Phase Two and Three were running concurrently.
Consequently, Maj Mark Wanyama, attached to the UPDF Audit and Finance Department, and Lt. Arthur Ruhinda attached to the Engineering Brigade were arrested after being accused by Eria Mubiru of soliciting a Shs7b bribe, the duo was released on bail on February 24 before their bail was cancelled on March 10
Brig. Richard Karemire, the Defence and Military spokesman said that the two officers who have since petitioned President Museveni must wait and answer charges in the General Court Martial other than hiding their unprofessionalism by cry out.