The Executive Director of the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB), Dr Charles Lagu has been asked to step away from office to allow for investigations into his conduct.
Lagu is currently battling with charges related to corruption and abuse of office.
In a May,6, 2020 letter to Lagu, the Agriculture Minister, Vincent Bamulanzeeki Ssempijja says that his attention has been drawn to the fact that the NAGRC boss was together with others arraigned before court and charged with several accounts of abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud and causing financial loss to government and consequently, the need to step out of office to allow for investigations to continue.
“Considering the gravity of the alleged offences against you and in line with section F-s 8 of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, I have decided to interdict you from duty with immediate effect to pave way for investigations to take place unhindered, “ Ssempijja’s letter reads in part.
The Minister however in the letter says the NAGRC boss will receive half of his monthly salary but will not be allowed to travel out of the country without permission.
“You will not access NAGRC premises without my express clearance. By copy of this letter, the NAGRC board is requested to identify and recommend to me a suitable person from the most senior officers to my eventual assignment of duties of Executive Director to him or her as an interim measure,” the minister says.
Lagu was recently arrested two weeks ago and arraigned in court over several charges related to abuse of office.
Prosecution alleges that on October 15, 2018, Dr Lagu did an arbitrary act prejudicial to his employer when he authorised a call off order in favour of Nuruma Holdings Limited for them to supply and deliver 1,000 and 600 kilograms of Chloris Gayana to Nshara Ranch and Sanga Field Station respectively worth shs 54.4 million without a request and confirmation of need from the said farms.
It was also alleged that on January 8,2019, the NAGRC boss also effected payment of shs 51 million to Nuruma Holdings Limited for supply of the said products without a confirmation and request of need from the said field farms.
According to prosecution, the said procurement was fictitious because the supply was got from Ruhengere field station in Kiruhura district to Nshaara Ranch and Sanga field stations.
During his arrest to weeks ago, Lagu blamed his woes on mafia that he said want to finish him off for exposing them in grabbing government land.
“When you do a good job, you become a problem( to some people). We have dealt with encroachers, land grabbers and so many people. They could be behind all this,” Dr. Lagu said as he was being whisked away to police.
When asked to mention names of those behind the woes, the NAGRC boss said investigations will reveal everything.
A big chunk of land belonging to NAGRIC and houses government ranches was either encroached on or grabbed in various parts of the country.
For example, encroachers took over 15 square miles of government land in Ruhengyere, Nshaara and Sanga ranches in Kiruhura District.
Lt Col (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, the State for Agriculture in charge of Animal and Veterinary Affairs in February directed that everyone who has encroached on government ranch land vacates it with immediate effect.
“I can’t see a government facility is there, police is there but encroachers are on the land. I will not tolerate that nonsense,”Rwamirama said.
“There is no trespass on government land. You cannot just come to encroach on government land. They (encroachers) must leave the land immediately. Let them go to court to prove the ownership of the land,” Rwamirama said in February.
According to Dr.Lagu after efforts to force encroachers and grabbers off the land started, his woes also took another direction.
The Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga recently told journalists that Lagu had been arrested over the sale of animals from government ranches.
“We are investigating him over the disposal of 960 heads of cattle from government farms and other corruption related charges which rotate around conspiracy or connivance with some suppliers of seeds which were picked from one ranch and transferred to another ranch in that process, they managed to pay Shs54 million to the purported supplier even when there was zero supply,”Enanga told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre.
However, these charges were not read to the NAGRC boss when he appeared before court.