Political leaders in Arua have said they will not allow Milton Kato to serve in their district, whether or not the newly-appointed Chief Administrative Officer is acquitted of corruption.
Milton Kato was arrested by police yesterday for his role in embezzlement of millions of shillings in public funds. He allegedly committed the crime while he was Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Masindi.
Kato was arrested together with the former Principal Personnel Officer of Masindi, Moses Bahemuka. They were charged with neglect of duty, causing financial loss, abuse of office and embezzlement at the Masindi Grade Two Magistrate. The case was referred to the Anti-Corruption Court.
Richard Ferua, the Arua LC5 chairperson, says his district cannot allow a man with such a tainted past to be CAO. He says that regardless of whether Milton Kato is granted bail, he will not be allowed to take up his new appointment in Arua.
Arua has not had a substantive CAO since last year. The post has been vacant since the appointed CAO, Vitalis Oswan, was rejected by the district council for allegedly sabotaging government programs. Prior to that Oswan's successor, Abdul Isodo was removed as CAO for corruption and abuse of office.
Bernard Atiku, chairperson of the Arua social services committee, says the district should not become a dumping ground for corrupt officials. He says the Milton Kato's fate will be debated by the district council next month and recommendations will be made to government.
Milton Kato, Moses Bahemuka and the acting Chief Finance Officer of Masindi, Jackson Bikobo, are accused of causing a loss of six million shillings every month since 2004 by paying money to ghost civil servants. They are also alleged to have stolen a grant of more than seven million shillings intended for St. Theresa Girls' School.
Stephen Otim, the acting Commissioner for Anti-Corruption at the Uganda Police Force, told a news conference in Masindi yesterday that Jackson Bikobo is on the run. He said the hunt is on for the Chief Finance Officer and he will be apprehended soon.
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Otim said that contrary to rumors making their rounds in the Masindi local government offices, his works isn't the result of political intrigue. He said he has gathered 15 files of evidence against the accused men. All evidence is based on independent inquiry.
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Robert Muhangi, the chairperson of the Masindi Advocacy Forum whose work prompted the inquiry, said he has received death threats because of the probe. He said this will not deter him from his mission to fight corruption in the district.
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The Masindi Grade II Magistrate's Court was packed with district staff and relatives of the accused men. As Kato and Bahemuka were handcuffed and put on a lorry to take them to Masindi Prison, many people ran after the truck, weeping loudly.