NIRA ED in trouble for alleged abuse of office

NIRA ED Obitre-Gama in trouble for alleged abuse of office
National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) Executive Director Judy Obitre-Gama

The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) Executive Director Judy Obitre-Gama is under investigation for alleged irregularities in the recent mass enrollment of pupils and students for the National ID project.

The case was referred to the Criminal Investigations Department by the Defence and Internal affairs committee of Parliament on the basis of queries raised by the Auditor General in a December 2017 report from the verification of funds spent for the registration of learners exercise.

The report indicated that NIRA failed to account for huge sums of money, channeled billions of money to individual accounts and flouted procurement procedures during the exercise that was carried out in both Primary and Secondary Schools across the country.

The drive intended to capture the data of children in the 5-16 age bracket, which the authority did not have in its national registry databank. However, the Auditor General observed that in the process, NIRA irregularly paid out 2.1 billion Shillings to individual personal accounts while another 1.3 billion Shillings was deposited to the personal account of the accountant.”

NIRA also failed to account for 8.4 billion Shillings spent as facilitation to various officials.

The report equally pointed out irregularities in the procurement of laptops and batteries for the project. NIRA purchased 2,000 laptops and 6,000 laptop batteries for the project, which, according to the Auditor General, were overpriced leading to a loss of 2.7 billion Shillings. Though all laptops were delivered, the report says only 350 batteries were received.

The Defense committee of Parliament headed by Judith Nabakooba handed Obitre-Gama to the Criminal investigations Department after failing to provide accountability for all the funds allocated to NIRA.

According to Nabakooba, the authority does not have documents and records in relation its activities, neither do they have the authentic paperwork for what they are doing. Nabakooba also says Obitre-Gama used her position to recruit staff without approval from Public service.

Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa says that NIRA failed to avail minutes of board meetings for the first two years, which is unacceptable for an authority which is managing Uganda’s data system.

NIRA has been marred with chaos with workers accusing the management of segregation, favoritism and in many cases harassment. NIRA whose principle role is the establishment and maintenance of the National Identification Register has also faced allegations of irregular recruitment of staff among other things.

In March, this year the former staff members petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga seeking to have them either reinstated or they are paid salary for six months.