Withdrawal of Organizations Funds by Board Members/Signatories from the Organization’s Account Illegally
In 2008, after the arrest and charging members of two radio programs in Fort Portal, I and other members formed a Human Rights Organization by the name of Twerwaneho Listeners Club, a group of local human rights activists started and registered as a company limited by guarantee with a mandate to promote freedom of Expression, Research and Document Human Rights Violations in the Rwenzori Region.
In order to make operations smooth and institutionalized, the organization opened a bank account and instituted a Board of Directors (5 Board of Directors) to fore see the activities of the organization. From the Board of Directors, three members were chosen to be signatories to the account in an event the organization gets funding. These were Mr. Stephen Rwagweri, Mr. Murungi Simon and Mr. Mugisa Ronald.
At that time the organization did not have funding or any project. I started a search for resource mobilization from donors by developing projects and marketing them to donors for funding
Since then, I have been directly involved in mobilizing for support and in the long run secured partnership with The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (Frontline), KIOS, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, The German Embassy in Kampala, Freedom House, International Legal Media Defence Initiative (London) to mention but a few.
As a result of the above partnership, we got our first project funding from KIOS this year. KIOS went ahead and deposited the first installment mid February this year.
In this proposal, I am the implementer and to be assisted by a project support staff all paid from the project.
The procedures to get funds from the account according to the passed proposal are;
1. The project coordinator identifies an activity to be implemented according to the work-plan, draws a budget for it according to the budget and presents it to the Board of Directors, the Board of Directors pass the plan according to the budget and work-plan. After passing the budget, the Board releases funds to the Implementer to proceed with implementation. the Implementer reports on a regular basis about the progress of the project
However, while attending a Human Rights Conference in Dublin, Ireland that started on 8th February and ended 21 February 2010, Mr. Stephen Rwagweri (Executive Director of another NGO called Engabu Za Tooro) and Roland Mugisa (Executive Director of another NGO called Foundation for Rural Development) withdrew 8Million Uganda Shillings on the 13th of February 2010 and used it for reasons known to them. The above procedures were undermined. They never consulted anyone in the organization. This money is meant for public projects and I have to account for that money in June 2010 but the two individuals used it for personal gains. When I came back from Ireland , I realized the money was missing. When I tried to ask them pay, they instead wanted to offer me a bribe, the balance on the account so that I can not report them. The immediate action I took was to inform the members who called them. Efforts to have them refund have bared no fruit. They instead have resorted to using dubious methods to justify their withdrawing the money. They have also started informing members that I did not agree with them on the amount of money to share as a bribe. All these are intended to divert me and other members from having them refund the money.
Earlier on in 2009, Mr. Rwagweri collected people’s contributions to the organization and never accounted for those funds worth 2 Million. Effort to compel him refund also failed.
The two members have a bad record of missing using donor funds in the organizations they head. In the last five years, Engabu Za Tooro alone has not implemented many projects funded by donors. HIVOS released a grant of 1 Billion for 5 years but no activity on ground was implemented. They are now extending their long merciless hands to continue stealing public funds because no one has held them accountable
I informed the Board to take action. The unfortunate part of it is that one of the Board Members seems to be compromised and not firm to hold the two members accountable for their actions and refund the money. He has resorted to postponing meeting for members to discuss and have resolutions about the stolen money. This has affected the process of implementation as stipulated on the work-plan
In order to try and cover up for their illegal act, the signatories/members are asking me to first give them the proposal with the budget and work-plan. I see this with ill intentions because they intend to implement a few activities to cover up for their action.
They are arguing that they withdrew the money to implement activities but surprisingly do not know what is in the proposal and the budget allocation. They have never seen the proposal but heard from me and a few members who participated with me that the proposal was passed.
If I give them the proposal, they will move ahead and cover up for their actions.
We have decided not to give the 3 Board members the proposal until the money is refunded and put on the account, a decision supported by other members of the organization.
In an effort to avoid having similar problems, we have put a caveat on the account. In the meantime, no activities will be implemented until they refund the money.
This e-mail comes after our phone discussion to find possible remedies to punish those culprits who stole people’s money. We are requesting for a quick response from your organization to carry out an independent investigation and help prosecute any individual that may be involved in any corruption act. Such an act will enable us recover the funds and also implement the project on time.
In the same tone, we are requesting your Organization and other institutions you think can be helpful to carry out another independent corruption inquiry in to the activities of Engabu Za Tooro and Foundation for Rural Development all in Fort Portal .
We are willing to co-operate by providing all relevant information to fight corruption
I am forwarding the bank evidence of what was withdrawn by one Stephen Rwagweri and the agreement with KIOS.