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IN HOT SOUP! UNBS Boss ‘Fired’ Over Shs100m Bribe

Unbs headquarters

After making a shocking revelation that he had offered a Shs100m to avoid being fired, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), David Livingstone Ebiru, has been ‘fired’ and now faces arrest on orders of the Inspector General of Government Beti Olive Namisango Kamya Turwomwe.

On July 19, 2023, while appearing before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), which was scrutinizing the report of the Auditor General on the financial statements of UNBS for the financial year ended 30 June 2022, Ebiru confessed that he had given a Shs100m to keep his job as ED.

That when it emerged that he was about to be fired from his juicy position, he made attempts to influence board UNBS Council members so as to keep his job. During the meeting, Cosase chairperson and Nakawa Division West MP Joel Ssenyonyi presented printed evidence indicating that Ebiru had written to Robert Mwanje, a council member, inquiring whether he had received part of the bribe.

Ssenyonyi read the message from the phone, which stated, “You remember how much I forked out to our colleagues for protection during the Inspector General of Government (IGG) issue, Shs100 million, I thought this would bind us to guard each other in the future but alas.”

Mwanje, who was present in the meeting, told the committee that it was true he had a conversation with the Executive Director but was equally shocked to hear about the matter and attempted to find out if it had indeed happened.

“I was very surprised, and I tried to find out from the two people what could have happened and so that is how I inquired from the chairman and from Mr Mohammed Omar, also a council member,” he said.

When given the opportunity to speak, Ebiru stated that he found himself in a difficult situation when a letter of dismissal from the Inspectorate of Government (IG) and the trade minister was directed to the chairman of the National Standards Council, Charles Musekuura, asking for his termination.

David Livingstone Ebiru. Courtesy Photo

Ebiru explained that he was approached by the chairperson of the council, who informed him about the dismissal letter and stated that only he, as the chairman, could save him, requesting for a bribe in return.

“I confirm that I had that discussion with Mr Mwanje. I handed the money through the representative of the chairman, one of the board members, Mr Omar. He came to my office and picked it in a bag. I borrowed this money,” he testified.

 Ebiru stated that the chairperson called him to a restaurant in Panamera, in the city suburb of Naguru, around June.

However, Omar told the committee that it was not true that he received any money from Ebiru. “Definitely not, Mr. Chairperson. The first time I came into contact with that information was through WhatsApp, where a gentleman told me that the ED was spoiling your name, that is what is going around, and you better be very careful,” he said.

When the chairperson questioned the council members, all of them denied receiving any part of the money, and some of them were shocked to hear about it during the committee meeting.

Upon being asked to comment on the matter, Musekuura denied that Ebiru handed over any money as a bribe. He asserted that Ebiru, who made the allegations, has the burden of proving them and instead called for a complete overhaul of the institution’s leadership, stating that it was corrupt.

The deputy chairperson of the committee and District Woman Representative for Amuru, Hon. Lucy Akello, stated that although Ebiru came clean and did not waste the committee’s time, he is not off the hook.

Ssenyonyi handed over the three officials – Ebiru, Omar, and Mwanje – to the Parliament Police to record statements on the bribery allegations.

But when he appeared before Cosase during the same week, Ebiru made a U-turn on his statements, formally withdrawing and claiming that the quotes attributed to him were out of context.

“I want to formally withdraw the statement because it was quoted out of context. The issue of offering my chairman Shs100m for protection as reported. I want to withdraw it formally,” Ebiru said, adding that he had been so incensed when he made the statement and was wary of the hostility between himself and the board members who wanted him knifed.

We can now confirm that the UNBS National Standards Council has replaced Ebiru with Mr Daniel Richard Makayi Nagalama who now becomes Acting executive director of UNBS.

Ebiru has now been sent on on forced leave over mismanagement and faces arrest.

It should be remembered that last week, the rot at UNBS was unearthed after ED Ebiru and Board Chairman Musekura bitterly exercised before Cosase, with Ebiru accusing Musekura of spying on him and the board accusing Ebiru of corruption and of giving a multi-billion deal to a ghost Chinese company. (Read Story Here).

Meanwhile, bribery is not new among Museveni’s government officials. A Minister in Museveni’s government has previously confessed that a secretary or typist once tempted him with a Shs40m bribe. We have also reported how Education Ministry officials were accused of selling each teaching job at Shs2m to candidates who did not qualify for them. (See Details Here and There).

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