Nimrod Wambete, the former Chairperson Board of the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) has clashed with the current Secretary General Ivan Asiimwe, at the height of unearthing the truth on what really happened to the UCA squandered and stollen properties, DaParrot exclusively reports.
On Wednesday this week, Asiimwe while speaking to Daparrot on the sidelines of the 54th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of UCA members accused the former leader of squandering, stealing, and fraudulently selling off the UCA properties which are worth trillions of shillings.
“The property is too many, others we are just discovering them with the help of our lawyers from the Kampala Associates Advocates (KAA),” he said
Asiimwe further said that the December 22, 1999 handover report that was given to former SG Emmanuel Masimakweli by the then SG Charles Kabuga indicated that the latter had left UCA properties intact and untouched.
“But during my handover in 2017, I was given an unclear file, not until we discovered this Report that we swing in action and started Investigating and recovering some of these properties,” Asiimwe added.
“Over UCA 150 properties, the majority being land was lost and several sold fraudulently,” he said
Asiimwe pinned Wambete and Masikweli for being responsible for the squandering, and fraudulent sale of these properties” and they did it without the knowledge of the members,”
“Even after selling they did not account to the members where the funds went,” he said
“They sold prime land in Bugolobi at $1,2m (around Shs4m.7Bn) yet it was worth $3m and even after transferring the money to the UCA account, they started withdrawing bug chunks of money without the members’ notice,” he said
Asiimwe’s allegations were confirmed by Ferdinand Tumuhaise a lawyer from KAA who said that they are trying to recover part of the properties.
“UCA, being an apex body had properties all over the country so we have been recovering these ones that are nearby in Kampala, we haven’t even recovered 1%,”
Some of the recovered and yet-to-be-recovered properties include; Bugolobi land which was sold to Lam Enterprise, Land in Lugogo Bypass, Land in UMA Show Ground (recovered), UCA Printery at UCA Building, Building at Namirember road, land in Papati, Northern Bypass, Kira road among others.
“Charles Kabuga’s report of 1999, left UCA with around Shs1Bn on account, but that one was wiped out, u can’t see it, all the properties we are talking about are prime properties, most of it located here in Kampala. I cannot quantify because there are a lot of properties, some we are yet to identify we were receiving information that there is the land in Entebbe that formerly belonged to UCA, a building in Aruba Park where the Cooperative bank was renting, belongs to UCA, but UCA doesn’t even know where that building is,” he said
Like Asiimwe, Tumuhaise also pinned the former leadership of UCA for partly being responsible for the vanishing of the properties.
“For Bugolobi, I want to go on record, the sales agreement and transfer form has the names and signatures of both former Chairperson Nimrod Wambete and Secretary-General Masikweli,”
Asiimwe believes that the said properties were squandered between 2000 and 2016 before the new Board and “myself as the General Secretary came in,”
“Because this became a contentious issue and those people who were responsible for squandering the assets fought us when we were coming in. They started fighting us, using all sorts of machinery, including the media trying to confuse the public to show that instead for us who were trying to bring our the truth, were the bad people,” he said
Asiimwe is a Liar; Wambete shoots Back
In a one-hour telephone interview with DaParrot, Wambete, the accused former UCA Boss, responded to some of the allegations which he said are ill-motivated by Asiimwe who is running away from the current Investigations being conducted against him.
“When I came in as the Chairperson of the UCA in 2010, I found plans to dispose of the Bugolobi property by the former AGM, and the proceeds of the land were to be used to develop the apartments in Naguru,” he said adding,
“The reason for disposing of the land was that Bugolobi was underdeveloped and the lease was running out. The Board was given authority and it was done through competitive bidding and Lam Enterprise because the highest bidder in 2010, the money was transferred to the UCA account and did what it was meant to do,”
Wambete further challenged the authorities to investigate their accounts in the banks,
“The allegations that there was Shs1Bn that was left on the account by Kabuga Charles are not true, as I said I am open to Investigations,” he said
DaParrot earlier on learned from Asiimwe that some of the buyers of the said properties told Investigators that they didn’t know that the members had not consented to their sale.
However, Wambete said nothing was done out of the members’ knowledge because everything that was being done was after AGM.
The Wednesday AGM resolved that everyone who was involved in selling off UCA Assets without the authority of the AGM, or Board, must be personally liable.
These openly mandated the Board and management to go ahead and ensure that these people were accountable to the members on who authorized them and where they took the money after selling off those assets
Fredrick Gume Ngobi, the State Minister of Cooperatives confirmed this development saying that no one will be spared adding that every culprit will return what they stole as agreed by the UCA members.
“Should you get tempted and sell any property belonging to UCA, you will individually pay it alone this is the new resolution, you can’t sell anything belonging to UCA or Union without the owners’ (members) knowledge.”
Asiimwe-Wambete Personal Battle Sunk in
In his submission, Asiimwe told DaParrot that the former leaders fought hard so that they don’t assume office because they (Asiimwe and others) knew everything and would expose them.
In response, however, Wambete said that Asiimwe is running away from the current Investigations being conducted against him thus using blackmail.
“When Asiimwe came to Office, he forged minutes and awarded himself benefits, and these included borrowing money to procure himself a vehicle, giving himself privileges like specialized treatment, helpers among others. This angered some of the Board members who petitioned the Court, which halted him, and afterward cleared him under unclear circumstances and later some board members resigned,” he said
Media Reports indicate that in February 2019, senior managers of UCA’s member cooperatives wrote to the board chairman Jonas Tweyambe requesting a meeting with the UCA board to discuss what they thought was the systematic mismanagement of the institution.
In the petition, the staff accused Asiimwe of forgery, financial impropriety, and abuse of office, which they said were posing a risk to the resources, image, and integrity of the Board of UCA and the entire cooperative movement.
In particular, the petitioners pointed to a resolution by the UCA Board purportedly issued at its 129th meeting, complete with signatures of the Board members, a stamp and signature from the registrar’s office, which Asiimwe had presented to the Uganda National Roads Authority to retrieve titles of UCA’ residual plots, which remained after the passage of the northern bypass.
It turned out the entire resolution had been a forgery. Confidential sources from UCA told the cooperator that in late 2018, Asiimwe conducted an orientation training of UCA’s new board members, which he later packaged as a formal meeting on the basis of which he concocted the resolution under question. The said resolution suggested that the UCA board had vested all its power in Asiimwe to conduct business on UCA’s behalf, a move industry experts equate to the dissolution of the board.
On another board resolution dated 22nd February 2019, Asiimwe was accused of manipulating the board to secure authorization to borrow Shs.200 million from the Housing Finance Bank on behalf of UCA and falsifying the Commissioner of Cooperatives’ signature and stamp to complete the transaction.
A few days later, the UCA Board Chairperson Johnas Tweyambe and Asiimwe were asked to step aside from their respective positions by the Registrar of Cooperatives at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives.
These were later cleared by Court as Investigations still goes on.
Efforts to get a comment from Asiimwe about the connection between these cases and the property woos went futile as his known numbers were off by press time.