INVESTIGATION: Auditor divulges in-house fraud, lives in fear

Lira Municipality Town Clerk, Assy Abirebe.

An internal auditor at Lira Municipality is living in qualm after leaking out internal scam at Lira Municipal Council.

In his recent audit into various activities carried out in the last quarter of fiscal year 2017-2018, Nelson Okello who’s an internal auditor found shs.18 million scandalously spent by some officials.

The officials at the center of this financial loss are, Assy T. Abirebe, the Town Clerk who’s also the accounting officer, Ronald Omara, the then acting municipal sports officer, among other officers implicated.

Sports gala money swindled

The shs.18m in question was earmarked to facilitate the sports team of Lira municipality to the annual urban tournament.

The annual sporting gala is attended by municipalities and town councils who compete in various games like football, netball among others. It was held in Kalongo, Agago district and lasted for four days from 8th-12 November 2017.

Ronald Omara, the acting sports officer then, indicated that a grand total of shillings 18m were required for event.

He added that the netball team received shillings 4.6million, volley team got shillings 5.8million, while some of the monies was spent on transport and stipend to some councilors and leaders who went with the team.

TND News understands that Bonny Acola, s youth councilor got shillings 460,000, Omara T .Ronald, the sports officer was paid shilling 480, 000, Walter Opota, the chairperson education committee received shillings 345,000 as his stipend, among others municipal officials.

According to documents TND News Desk has in possession, the money was purported to have been availed to Ronald Omara, the then acting sports officer in the full knowledge of Assy Abirebe, the municipal town clerk, principal treasure and former Lira Municipal Education Officer (MEO), Jane Ofungi on 3 November 2017; three months after the sports gala was done.

Consortium crimes

The plot to swindle the 18m shillings was hatched at a very sophisticated level by a cluster of senior ‘fraudsters’ at the municipal council, documents TND News Investigative Unit (TND-IU) has in possession attest.

Expenditure form.

First, it later occurred that the sports officer Mr. Ronald Omara was never given the entire 18m shillings to manage the sports gala, but rather paltry shillings 9m on the 11 August 2017 when the team left for Kalongo.

The money was borrowed from the treasury of Lira Central Division since Lira Municipal Town Clerk was not available in office to approve funds transfers. By so doing, Lira Municipal council was to reimburse Lira Central division.

TND-IU also understands that Omara was made to sign for only 8m shillings in haste as vehicle was about to leave.

He was later on added another shilling 2million through mobile money platform.

When the Town Clerk returned to office, he then cleared the comprehensive budget of the sports gala totaling to shillings 18m on the November 3, 2018.

The finance managers were to remove shillings 9m and pay back to Central Division, which was never done and the remaining balance of 9m shillings was picked from the Roads Fund Account to carry out what they described as traffic Lights inspection.

After some people (insiders) got concerned, the road funds money was taken back to its account.

How fraud was divulged

After what he termed as signing a voucher amounting to 18 million shillings and only being given 9m shilling for sports gala competition held in Kalongo, Agago district, Ronald Omara complained to the municipal audit desk who took swift action and an audit was conducted.

When the district internal auditor Nelson Okello swung into action, he detected fraud on the Kalongo Sports gala activity and queried monies drawn from the account number 01053552823645 and payment vouchers pVS04318 and PVS04584, respectively.

Death threats emanate

Nelson Okello after discovering the fraud raised the matter before Lira RDC against Assy Abirebe for a possible action that would possibly include investigations aimed at recovering the money and further ensuring that serious action taken on implicated officers.

Before long, Okello allegedly met stun confrontation and threats on his life by the town clerk. This has prompted the internal auditor to open a case of threatening violence at Lira Central Police station vide SD 19/08/06/2018.

He also wrote a letter and copied it to his boss; Assy Abirebe expressing fears on his life-TND-IU has copies.

Okello’s letter dated 5th May and addressed to Mr. Assy Abirebe in particular reads in part: “However, there was agreement that the audit should protect the institution by excluding the fraud in the third quarter………you repeated similar proverb in one of the previous internal audit meetings that very many people who have tried to fight corruption ended up being eliminated…”

Okello told TND-IU team that he is now scared for any time he may be eliminated.

Meanwhile, the town clerk and other officials from Lira municipal council have since recorded their statements at CPS Lira over the matter.

Town clerk Assy Abirebe has vehemently denied threatening Okello and instead told this news website that he is very passionate about the fight against corruption and that he’s willing to recover this money.

“First of all such allegations are not true. Have not fought or threatened anybody,” Abirebe told TND News on Wednesday morning in a phone interview.

This critical fraud comes at a time when the same municipal council is facing accusations of fraudulently awarding a contract worth 14m shillings for the construction of kraal for keeping impounded stray animals.

TND-IU Team: Frank Gold Oyugi, Jaspher Ouni & Jackson Quest

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