Government Tasks Acholi War Claimants to Account for Sh7bn

 

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A cross section of members of Acholi War Claimants Association meeting Justice Minister Kahinda Otafire at Pece Memorial Stadium, The association has been embroiled in controversies over use of money from government meant to pay the war claimants.

Government has tasked the executive of the Acholi War Debt Claimants, a lobby of war claimants from the Acholi sub region, to account for 7.1 billion shillings advanced to them between 2006 and 2011.

The fund was meant to compensate individuals who lost animals during the conflict between the Uganda government and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

The office of the Attorney General (AG) is demanding that current and the former executives of the war claimants submit accountability for money received from government.

Henry Oluka, the acting Commissioner in office of the Attorney General said recently while in Gulu town that they suspect that part of the fund was paid to individuals who were not entitled to receive the money.

Oluka noted that some of the claimants were not genuine beneficiaries.

Oluka who met some of the war claimants said government is considering instituting an investigation on how the payment to the claimants was effected.

According to Oluka, the police CIID department has already been notified about conducting an investigation.

Of particular interest, Oluka said, was how 1.5 billion shillings was used by the former and current executives of Acholi War Claimants Association.

The Office of the Attorney General notes the money was part of 3 Billion shillings released in 2008/09 financial year through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

However Noah Opwonya, the Chairman of the association dismissed the claims of corruption against him saying they had submitted to the justice ministry accountability for all the money received.

According to Opwonya, all the relevant government departments were served with copies of the accountability.

Opwonya said the majority of the claimants have received 60 percent of their total payment and asked government secure more fund so that ageing beneficiaries receive what is due to them.

Opwonya whose leadership of the Acholi War claimants is challenged by some members of the association, cautioned politicians to stay away from the association’s affair saying the current talks of lack of accountability is being used by politicians in order to solicit for votes.

Earlier George Pius Opio, the Publicity Secretary of the war debt claimants said there is no need for them to submit accountability to the government because the government is a debtor.

In January this year, the Justice Minister Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire held a meeting with the war claimants at Pece Memorial Stadium in Gulu town said the money released by government is public fund and no one should play around with it.

At the meeting, Gulu district Chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi said executives of the Acholi War Debt Claimants were rewarding themselves out of money sent by government instead of paying the claimants.