The Anti-Corruption Court has convicted the former Soroti University Secretary who also doubles as the Accounting Officer of Soroti University, Achimo Ruth Etibot to five years imprisonment.
She was charged with two counts of abuse of office, diversion of public resources, fraudulent and false accounting by a public officer. Court found her guilty of diverting about one billion shillings.
Achimo was charged together with Obeele Edward who was the University Bursar who pleaded guilty to the charges through plea bargain and was sentenced to a fine.
The case proceeded for full trial against Achimo being prosecuted by Khaukha James, a State Attorney who led evidence in court to prove that Achimo while serving as a University Accounting Officer signed a legal services agreement (on behalf of the university)
With Okurut & Co. Advocates for provision of legal services to the University without going through the formal procurement processes.
The law firm was among the three law firms that were pre-qualified for legal services
According to the judgement delivered by Justice Tibulya Margaret, she eventually used her position as Accounting Officer and paid to the said law firm Ug. Shs. 1,025,265,000 as legal fees in a space of three months.
This money was diverted from capital development because the legal services were not budgeted for under the Budget for F/Y 2017/18
She also diverted more monies from capital development to cater for staff allowances and other non-current expenditure.
“Eventually, due to her actions, payments for capital development projects were affected and as a result, the University was penalized by the contractors for the failure to effect payments within the agreed timelines,” judgement reads.
Despite Achimo spending the capital development funds on non-recurrent activities, she reported in the progress reports that all the capital development funds had been spent on capital development projects, which was false.
The actual activities upon which the money was spent were concealed, according to the judgement.
Justice Tibulya Margaret sentenced the convict to five years imprisonment and stated that the convict’s actions were irregular and with blatant impunity which no amount of explanation could sanitize.
Court also disqualified from holding a public office for the next 10 years.