COVID-19 Procurement Scam: Rugunda Pleads Innocence
Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda has distanced himself from the procurement scandal that has rocked the National COVID-19 response program that he supervises.
Following the arrest of four senior officials of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) suspected of inflating the cost of food items to be distributed under the program, the social media was awash with reports that pointed to how the procurement procedures were flouted.
Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House anti-corruption unit estimates that the government could have lost more than Shs 4 billion in the scam.
On Twitter last night, Rugunda refuted allegations that he was part of the group that fronted Aponye Uganda Limited to win the Shs 59 billion deal to supply beans and maize flour that the government is distributing to an estimated 1.5 million Ugandans in Kampala and Wakiso.
Aponye Uganda Limited is owned by Apollo Nyegamehe, the NRM chairman for Rukiga district in South Western Uganda.
“I would like to inform you all that this is absolutely not true. It should be ignored and treated with the contempt it deserves. Neither the First Lady, not the President contacted me about Aponye or any other company to supply posho and beans. Therefore, I dismiss these fabrications,” Rugunda said in a statement.
On Thursday, Nakalema arrested the OPM Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu, Joel Wanjala (accounting officer), Fred Lutimba (assistant commissioner for procurement) and Martin Owor (commissioner for disaster management) who also heads COVID-19 relief management.
The quartet allegedly inflated prices of the food items and rejected prequalified suppliers who were offering lower prices for maize and beans and instead awarded contracts to companies that accepted the inflated figures.