Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1712 EAT on Thursday 2 March 2023.
Atiak town clerk, Ben Oluba has been arrested for allegedly selling three government planting machines as metal scrap. He was arrested on Tuesday after the planting machines were discovered at a metal scrap yard on route to Kampala city.
The planters, which are towed by tractors during planting were reportedly delivered to the town council under the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) project. They have reportedly been lying idle at the town council compound for some time. Atiak town council chairperson Kenneth Okot, says that Oluba sold all three planters at a mere Shs 380,000 – much lower than the current market price of over Shs 1.3 million each.
“He sold these giant planters which are mounted on tractors during planting season. He sold 3 sets of them at the price of Shs 380,000 which is quite an absurd incident if you’re to look at the current price of the planter in the market,” said Okot.
Okot condemned the actions of the town clerk, adding that he has since been handed to the police for further interrogations. He notes that the planters were in good working condition but needed to be greased since they hadn’t been used in a long time. Aswa River Region police spokesperson David Ongom Mudong, says that the planting machines were discovered on Friday last week while being loaded onto a truck by a scrap dealer identified as Brian Mafabi.
He says that preliminary investigations conducted by the police revealed that Oluba had already received a down payment of Shs 200,000, pending a balance of Shs 180,000. Mudong says the planters have all been recovered as exhibits adding that the suspect’s file has been forwarded to the resident state attorney for sanctioning before he is arraigned in court.
He condemned the actions of the suspect, saying that he should have been a watchdog of government properties instead of abusing them. The incident comes on the heels of yet another scandal where the minister for Karamoja Affairs, Maria Goretti Kitutu’s relatives including her mother, brother and nephwe were found selling iron sheets meant for vulnerable people in Karamoja sub-region. The minister has since been summoned by parliament to make a formal report.