Govt Must Avert Looming Scandal About Pension Scam [editorial]

Well, that is if the word ‘looming’ is justifiable as a reflection of faith in Uganda Police Force’s ability to investigate and dispose of cases promptly.

In truth, the matter of the alleged theft of Shs 169 billion in pension funds is already looking like an all-too-familiar, full-blown scandal.

Earlier court had dismissed the case against high-profile suspects such as Christopher Obey and David Oloka, because the state had failed to assemble witnesses. When this happened, many Ugandans were puzzled.

As details of the investigations had emerged, the case against the suspects had appeared extremely compelling. In fact, the public standing of the investigative agencies of the state enjoyed a momentary reputation boost.

Therefore, when news came out that prosecution had failed to get its act together, some argued that something had to be very wrong. Ugandans can sometimes be unnecessarily cynical, and it was therefore, easy to dismiss speculation that someone must have been bribed to kill the case.

Yet, the cynics will now be gloating “I told you”. Revelations carried by Daily Monitor last week, about investigators having been bribed and about attempts to bribe Grace Akullo, the director of criminal investigations and intelligence, are emblematic of the crisis facing our country.

In recent weeks, newspaper readers and other members of the public have come out to criticize the quality of police investigations. Akullo’s revelations will not do much to enhance the flagging reputation of the police and the state for which it acts, or indeed President Museveni’s government.

The government units involved in the case need to realize that they were as much on trial as the suspects of the now-dismissed case. Both the inspector general of police and the director of public prosecutions have vowed to pursue the case to its “logical” conclusion. Given the huge amounts of money involved, that would go some way towards restoring faith in public institutions.

The suspects have, of course, not been proven guilty. But if they are to walk free, let it be because they are innocent, not because the state failed to decisively go after enemies of the public interest.

Source : The Observer

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