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Pension scam: acquit Lwamafa, Obey assessors advise court

Three former public service officials accused of irregularly and fraudulently budgeting Shs 88.2bn as NSSF contributions by government employees for personal benefit should be acquitted, say court assessors.

The two assessors; Vincent Ferrer and Stanley Kurung, in their joint layman’s opinion, advised Anti-Corruption court presided over by justice Lawrence Gidudu that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Officials, including former permanent secretary Jimmy Lwamafa, Christopher Obey, the former principal accountant and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, the former director Research and Development are charged with causing financial loss, abuse of office, diversion of funds and conspiracy to defraud the state.

The charges stem from the infamous pension scam in which they reportedly connived in the irregular budgeting of Shs 88.2bn as social security contributions, well knowing that civil servants don’t contribute to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The money in question ended up being paid to ‘ghost’ recipients.

The suspects (L-R) Christopher Obey, Kiwanuka Kunsa and Jimmy Lwamafa

Assessor Ferrer who read out the joint opinion on behalf of his colleague, submitted that the suspects never budgeted for the NSSF item and that it was introduced in the payment system by a one Josses Tegyeza and not the suspects.

The other piece of evidence that the court assessors based on was the testimony of former acting permanent secretary in the public service ministry Adah Muwanga, who told court that once there was a query in the payment schedules in a given financial year, then there won’t be any release of funds in the following financial year.

They further argued that since in the following FY 2011/12, money was released by the finance ministry, it meant that there were no queries in the previous financial year.

The two assessors also quoted the evidence of the suspects when they denied ever budgeting for NSSF item in the two financial years and that what they budgeted for was pension and gratuity.

The assessors also pointed out the other piece of evidence on court record that the money was wired to Cairo bank and that if there was any fraud, then it would have been in the bank and there is no way the suspects are linked to it.

Their advice to court is however not binding to the judge. The suspects were further remanded to Luzira prison until November 11 when the judge will determine their fate.

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