ARUA: The Public Accounts Committee-PAC Local Government has directed three top Arua district officials to be investigated for paying 15 ghost staff and causing the government a financial loss. They are the Chief Administrative Officer, Jude Mark Bukenya; Principal Human Resource Officer, Isreal Echoku; and former CAO, Donath Eswelu.
The trio is accused of paying more than Shillings 10 million to fifteen staff that neither appeared on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System-IPPS register nor had the necessary documentation in their personal files.
The irregularity was captured in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2020/2021. Part of the report states that UGX.10, or 115,392 was paid to 15 staff that neither appeared on the IPPS payroll register nor had the necessary documentation in their personal files to support their existence.
The audit report also queried the overpayment of a pensioner identified as James Afeku by the district, amounting to over Shillings 17 million. When asked to explain how the payment of the 15 ghost staff happened, Ecoku blamed it on the creation of numerous administrative units that triggered confusion in the payroll.
However, when tasked to identify the ghost staff, Ecoku only said that they were staff of Madi Okollo District Local government.
The Committee Chairperson, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, ruled that the three officers be interrogated by police after failing to give justifiable reasons as to why the 15 ghost staff were paid by the district. Mapenduzi further directed the principal human resource officer to refund over 10 million schillings that he allegedly paid to the ghost staff.
The committee members have pitched a camp in Arua City to interact with officials from West Nile districts about the audit queries.