Court Issues Criminal Summons Against UNBS Director Over UGX 100m Bribe

The Anti-Corruption court has issued criminal summons against David Livingstone Ebiru, the embattled executive director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) on charges of corruption.

The summons were issued today Wednesday by chief magistrate Joan Aciro following a request by the prosecution led by Rogers Kinobe and Diana Nantabazi from the Inspector General of Government (IGG).

Kinobe told the court that Ebiru was not present in court, because he was still facing further interrogation. Kinobe prayed for a criminal summons for a date convenient to the court so that the prosecution can also use the time to get more information in preparation for the trial.

Court then issued a criminal summons for Ebiru to appear on August 8, 2023, for plea-taking. Prosecution alleges that between October 2022 and December 2022, Ebiru corruptly offered a gratification of Shs 100 million to Charles Masekuura the chairperson of the UNBS board as inducement to secure his job as the executive director of UNBS.

But the charges sanctioned by Brenda Kimbugwe Mawanda the manager of the prosecutions unit in the office of the Inspector General of Government are yet to be formally read to him. Asked why they are not charging the person who received the bribe, Kinobe said they cannot charge both since one has to be a witness against the other.

Last week, the minister of Trade, Industries, and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa sent Ebiru on a forced six-month leave over allegations of fraud and misconduct.

Ebiru is accused of masterminding an expenditure of Shs 12.5 billion without approval from the ministry of Finance and parliament following the Auditor General’s report for the fiscal year 2021/2022 on the financial statements of UNBS.

The issue came to light through a probe prompted by parliament’s public accounts committee on commissions, statutory authorities, and state enterprises (PAC-COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi.

It emerged that Ebiru caused the transfer of funds in question from the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) suppliers account to a Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) account, a program under UNBS designated to receive donor funds.

During the probe, Charles Musekuura, chairperson of the UNBS board revealed that out of the Shs 17.964 billion on the GAIN account, Ebiru only authorized Shs 5.499 billion to be sent to the consolidated fund. The remaining Shs 12.464 billion was converted and utilized as per Ebiru’s directives to support the operations of the Bureau.

In response, Ebiru acknowledged that his actions were contrary to the Public Finance Management Act of 2014 but justified them by stating that they were necessary to fulfill the Bureau’s critical obligations after experiencing a budget cut of Shs 20 billion during the reviewed fiscal year.

On June 26 and 27, the Inspectorate of Government and UNBS board separately wrote letters suspending Ebiru from office to allow for investigations following the malpractice. Ebiru confessed that he bribed the UNBS board of UNBS with Shs 100 million to escape suspension, money which he also allegedly borrowed.

On Wednesday, he was brought to court after being arrested from the IGG’s office.  A warrant of arrest had been issued against him earlier.

However, moments after being taken into the court cells, he was taken back to the office of the IGG before court could convene, hence the issuance of a criminal summons against him.

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