The Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), David Livingstone Ebiru, has left members of Parliament in shock after he admitted to giving a bribe of Shs100 million to secure his job.
He made the admission during a meeting with the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), which was scrutinising the report of the Auditor General on the financial statements of UNBS for the financial year ended 30 June 2022.
On Wednesday, 19 July 2023, during the committee’s meeting with the bureau, Ebiru admitted to offering the bribe when he faced the possibility of dismissal from his position.
Ebiru’s confirmation came after the committee chairperson and Nakawa Division West MP, Hon. 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,” Mwanje 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.
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.