Former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board chairperson Geoffrey Onegi-Obel has blamed the Fund’s management for messing up the bungled Nsimbe housing project.
Mr Onegi-Obel was in the dock on Thursday to defend himself against charges of abuse of office and causing financial loss of Shs8 billion to the workers’ pension body in the project’s 5,000 housing units that were to be used for residential and commercial purposes.
The 59-year-old told court presided over by Justice Margaret Tibulya that it was the role of the NSSF management to handle all procurement issues but not the board he headed at the time.
“Board directors, at least with my experience, don’t float companies,” said Mr Onegi-Obel, who was being led by his lawyer Ronald Oine. “Boards don’t do that since procurement is a management function,” he added.
Mr Onegi-Obel, who is out of jail on bail, also denied ever being an employee of NSSF. He said the board directors are not employees of NSSF save for the executive director.
His assertion was intended to shoot down the prosecution’s charge of abuse of office. For the charge of abuse of office to stand, the accused must have been an employee of government at the time the alleged crime happened.
Mr Onegi-Obel told court that he could not remember who exactly stopped the Nsimbe housing project but added that this could have been a result of a report written by Teddy Ssezi Cheeye, who is now serving a 10-year jail sentence for corruption. Cheeye was the director for economic monitoring in the Internal Security Organisation at the time.
He also denied having entered into a joint venture with Mugoya Estates Ltd, which had been contracted to execute the project. He said it was the mandate of the management under the NSSF policy. The case resumes on September 11 for conclusion of the hearing. Court will then set the judgment date.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor