By John Ogulei and Robert Edwomu
Finance Trust Bank officials and the district commercial officer in Soroti are on spot over alleged connivance with the suspected fraudster to swindle over Shs 55 million from three Emyooga Savings Groups in Soroti.
President Museveni in August 2019 launched Emyooga programme, a poverty eradication programme meant to transform 68% of Ugandan homesteads from subsistence farming to market-oriented production.
The programme is meant to benefits 18 categories of people namely; Boda-Bodas, Drivers, Saloon Operators, farmers, artists, Journalists, local leaders among others.
In Soroti, three Groups in Gweri county are dilemma after a one Moses Okiring Ebaku allegedly connived with the bank officials and the district commercial officer to steal money totalling to over Shs 55 million.
The affected groups are; Gweri County Women Entrepreneurs, Gweri Boda-Boda Operators and Gweri taxi savings and credit cooperative society.
James Peter Omiat the chairperson Gweri county Women Entrepreneurs SACCO said the group made the first withdraw of Shs 12.3 million without any problem but when they went back to make another transaction they we’re shocked when the bank told them that they had withdrawn an extra Shs 7.4 million.
He said the bank’s response prompted them to ask for the bank statement and video footage to ascertain the persons that withdraw the money on that date.
According to Omiat, after reviewing the footage the bank admitted the mess and refunded the Shs 7.4 million.
He alleges that Ebaku disappeared with the Shs 4.1million that the group entrusted him to deposit on the savings account.
The suspect has on several occasions purported to be well versed with the bank procedures and at one point participated in training the groups together with the bank officials.
Ebaku is not a signatory to Gweri county Women Entrepreneurs SACCO nor a member.
Lazarus Engeu, the chairperson Boda-Boda Operators SACCO said they lost Shs 17.5 million on July 4, 2021 through a suspicious withdraw.
Swaibu Yoweri, the treasurer of the Boda Boda SACCO also claimed that on the same day, he received an sms alert that money had been withdrawn from their account without his authorisation.
The Emyooga policy states that before any group accesses money from the bank, there must be a recommendation letter from the district commercial officer which is presented to the bank to enable cash withdrawal.
Joy Christine Apolot the Soroti acting DCO declined to comment on the matter referring us to the Resident District Commissioner Soroti whom she claimed is the official spokesperson of the Emyooga programme.
The Soroti RDC, Patrick Okumu said it is unfortunate that Emyooga funds were stolen under unclear circumstances.
Isaac Isanga, the Finance Trust Manager Soroti Branch admitted that some money had been withdrawn from the accounts of some of the Saccos but was quick to add that the bank refunded it when it realised that mistakes had been made.
The manager also alleged that the suspected fraudster allegedly obtained a recommendation letter from the Commercial officer on which they based to disburse the the funds to various Emyooga groups.
A general inquiry file has been opened at Soroti Central Police Station to kick start the investigation.
Last week the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among suspended the House sittings for 7 days to allow legislators to investigate the implementation of the Emyooga programme.
Tom Julius Ekudo the Member of Parliament for Gweri County vowed to take an action against Okiring and the bank officials.