• Suspect drew cash 40 times in five days
• Money withdrawn from unopened accounts

Behind the ministry of Public Service pensions swindle is a tangled trail of stunning forgeries, complicities and fictitious bank cash withdrawals and payments of billions of shillings. Detectives’ accounts describe a frenzied rush to draw billions of shillings within hours of being deposited.

In one instance in 2011, The Observer has been told by a detective familiar with the investigation, Peter Sajjabi, the general secretary of the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (EACBA), drew money 40 times from Cairo International bank between November 11 and November 15, taking Shs 2.5bn in that period alone.

Christopher Obeyi, the former principal accountant in the ministry of Public Service, and Sajjabi, are accused of withdrawing at least Shs 145bn, purportedly to be paid out to pensioners, according to an ongoing police investigation.

In some instances, Sajjabi is said to have withdrawn the money before opening accounts, which further confirmed that the syndicate operated with the full knowledge of some staff at Cairo International bank, where the accounts were opened.

The Auditor General’s special investigation, which covered the period between October 2009 and September 2012, was meant to ascertain where the fraud was committed and who was responsible. It is suspected that about Shs 169bn was lost through dubious payments, including to a ghost law firm that was paid Shs 15bn.

Obeyi, who is once again in detention, faces several charges of forgery and causing financial loss. On top of that, the police on Wednesday started investigating claims that he connived with other people to cause the payment of over Shs 1bn to fictitious claimants through the Administrator General’s office.

Busy Sajjabi

According to investigations, the ministry of Finance would send money to Cairo International bank. One or two days later, an account would be opened and on the same day, Sajjabi, now back in detention as well, would be introduced as one authorised to withdraw money on behalf of the beneficiaries. Sajjabi would then return the next day to withdraw the money.

This would happen after Sajjabi had purportedly been introduced by the beneficiaries to withdraw the money on their behalf as the general secretary of the EACBA. However, the police discovered that the letters of introduction and authorisation for Sajjabi to withdraw the money were forged. Once the transactions were completed, a source at the bank said, Sajjabi would walk to the underground parking, where the bank staff would stuff the cash into his tinted car.

“If you look at all the pay slips, Sajjabi didn’t sign anywhere. If he had been authorized by the pensioners like he claimed, he should have produced his identity card as well as that of the pensioners and then signed on the pay slip,” a detective said. “However, that didn’t happen, which showed a weakness on the bank’s side. As it turns out, the top managers knew something.”

It was also discovered that in some cases, the introductory letters for opening accounts in Cairo International bank were made after the money had been withdrawn from the accounts. For example, introduction letters to open 18 of the 29 accounts where payment requests were honoured on January 17, 2011 were made after this date.

The schedule in the Auditor General’s investigative report shows, for instance, that Jackson Atiku was paid Shs 56m on January 17, 2011. However, on January 20, 2011, Sajjabi introduced Atiku to open an account with Cairo International bank and on the same day he (Sajjabi) was introduced to withdraw money on Atiku’s behalf.

The following day, January 21, 2011, Sajjabi returned to withdraw the money. On this particular day, Sajjabi made seven withdrawals of Shs 56m, Shs 70m, Shs 60m, Shs 79m, Shs 58m, Shs 57m and Shs 68m. The day before, Sajjabi using the same method, had made six withdrawals of Shs 57m, Shs 74m, Shs 64m, Shs 58m, Shs 60m and Shs 55m. In total, Sajjabi withdrew Shs 1.9bn in January 2011.

In July, Sajjabi withdrew Shs 550m in just eight installments. The busiest period, however, was in November 2011 when Sajjabi made 40 withdrawals between November 11 and November 15 worth Shs 2.5bn. The scheme goes as far back as 2010, and according to the police, the schedules generated were traced to the computer of the ministry’s IT Manager, Francis Lubega, but generated by Obeyi.

“These schedules contained lists of pensioners that were not verified and/or assessed by the relevant sections of the ministry of Public Service and did not exist in the ministry’s data base,” Auditor General John Muwanga noted.

The schedules were later submitted to the ministry of Finance with a covering letter, usually signed by Obeyi and Jimmy Lwamafwa, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Public Service. The investigation also discovered that Obeyi would submit soft copies of the schedules for payment of gratuity to the IT section of the ministry of Public Service to encrypt and forward to the Uganda Computer Services department in the ministry of Finance.

After that, the payment schedules would be processed by the Treasury and then sent to Bank of Uganda for payment. The investigation also discovered that Sajjabi and his cartel used the weaknesses in the pension scheme system to cream off at least Shs 169bn over a long period. It was discovered, for instance, that there was no internal audit of all pension files before any payments were effected in the absence of a Commissioner for Compensation.

“In the absence of adequate information on the files, it is difficult to conclude on the genuineness of the pensioners. Management should review pension processes to ensure that only files with adequate documentation are processed and paid,” the Auditor General’s office concluded.

Nine of the suspects in the pension scam have been remanded to Luzira prison until Thursday when they return for hearing of their bail application. They appeared before the anti-corruption court yesterday and denied charges of abuse of office, causing financial loss, embezzlement, and conspiracy to defraud.

The suspects are Jimmy Lwamafa, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Public Service; Kiwanuka Kunsa, the director of Research and Development; Christopher Obeyi, the principal accountant; and David Oloka, the senior accountant.

Others are Francis Lubega, the information systems analyst; Stephen Lwanga, the accounts assistant; Peter Sajjabi, the EACBA chairman; Ssentongo Ishaka, the assistant manager of operations, Cairo International bank; and Rahama Nakigozi, the compliance officer, Cairo International Bank.

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+8 #1 Moses Okello 2013-01-30 02:24
Watch out, this Peter Sajjabi, the so-called general secretary of the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (EACBA), is going to get killed in jail in order to cover the trails of the embezzled Pensioners' Funds.

Sajjabi was a middle man fronted by someone bigger and he will not live to see the light of the court up to its conclusion.
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+6 #2 Baale 2013-01-30 05:02
This is a shame that these people manaupalated the system which was put in place to help our elderly.
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+4 #3 Bamu 2013-01-30 09:11
surely Sajjabi was and is proxy for powerful forces.he used to boast how he singlehandedly through connections realised the creation of Buyende District.

His kith and kin have been showing off their wealth in Iganga but that was before the bubble burst. His rural home in Buyende is a story for another day not Kazinda's Bukoto mizigo.
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-4 #4 Bakubye 2013-01-30 11:29
Moses Okello. since you do not indicate that you are a prophet my guess would be that you are privy to a plot to kill Mr. Sajjabbi.

Why don't you volunteer such information to the police? In addition you seem to know the bigger guns in this whole thing, and I believe you could be a key witness. So come out and save our nation from the scourge of corruption.
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+5 #5 Dennis 2013-01-30 11:37
@ Moses Okello, who gives a rat"s ass if Sajjabi is killed??? All those guys need to be hanged by their balls...
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+3 #6 petermarco 2013-01-30 13:19
This man walks while his dancing i do not think that is disabled his full of tricks, what to do i have to go style of walk.

Shame on you mr if you where in the UK you would have claimed disability benefit while are a liar, you are not disabed as you walk.
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+3 #7 paul 2013-01-30 17:51
i have been silent to comment on this topic of corruption in public offices but the solution is simple. corruption, mismanagement, abuse of public funds and murder should carry the same sentence if found guilty, this is the step countries like china took and it works out.

A minister who embezzles Aids and malaria drugs money puts thousands of lives to death and the punishment should be death as well. it has worked in serious countries like china.
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+1 #8 ntongo 2013-01-30 18:12
no wonder his concubines run money lending businesses.
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+3 #9 Betty Long Cap 2013-01-30 20:17
Quoting Moses Okello:
Watch out, this Peter Sajjabi, the so-called general secretary of the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (EACBA), is going to get killed in jail in order to cover the trails of the embezzled Pensioners' Funds.

Absolutely true, Moses Okello. If you want to get someone knocked off, get him behind bars.
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+3 #10 fred 2013-01-31 07:09
I wondered how these where operating, whenever I went there they would tell me to check on them on a period not less six months, they had told to first pay the money for the lawyers which also too high, I travelled for four years untill abandon the money since my mzee had also died after failling. My God
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+1 #11 meric 2013-01-31 08:32
sajjabi like the name suggests. should we really care what happens to him? our grandparents have died of curable diseases while he laundered their hard earned cash!!
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+3 #12 ricardo nyanza 2013-01-31 12:39
you guys from the regime like bakubye above i don't know y you get angry over little comments people make here. You made your bed by looting the country dry and u r not ready to lie in it.

the fact is that i don't know where you are going to hide your loot because all the safe depository is on CCTV these days you need to control your fears because the finishing line cant be so far away surely.
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+2 #13 Moses Okello 2013-01-31 20:42
Bakubye, yes, am not a prophet. I don't need a Phd to get to know what happens inside Uganda. Sajjabbi won't be the first or the last.

Joseph Behakanira the former 'owner' of the controversial J&M Hotel in Bwebajja, died a few days after appearing the PAC.
State witness, in the Robinah Erinah Kayaga Kiyingi's murder case, Lt. Ceaser Enya, then attached to the Military Police, died of three pistol gun shots at his Banda home.

A second person said to have pulled the trigger one Pte John Atwine died in unkonwn circumstances whilst at Luzira Maximum prison. In 2007, a treason suspect Mr Ismail Jjuuko Nakibinge, a resident of Nansana West Zone, died at Luzira prison in unclear circumstances.

Former FDC Chairman, Dr. Suleiman Kiggundu, contracted colon cancer in Luzira and later died when came out. Kandida Lakony of a controversal Monitor picture died shortly after release from Luzira. PRA suspect Joseph Musasizi Kifeefe died shortly after bail. List is long
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0 #14 Nakasero 2013-01-31 20:43
@Dennis- I would agree with you 100 percent! On the other hand, I hope readers will not implicate M7 for these forgeries and crimes.

Man on the top was always crying fouls, and see what he meant!! No bails for those thugs, put them behind bars for a long, long time! They are scum and shame of Uganda.
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