At least 8 data entrants from Arua city who fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief cash meant for vulnerable people have apologized and requested to refund the money.
The data entrants were today appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on Local Government chaired by Bardege-Layibi MP, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi alongside Arua city officials. The committee is probing the fraudulent process of registering beneficiaries meant to receive the Shs 100,000 COVID-19 relief cash.
The committee established that the same people who were charged with registering beneficiaries instead chose to register themselves as beneficiaries taking advantage of the system.
Some of data entrants told the MPs that they are just volunteers in Arua city and needed the money because they are not paid a salary. Of the 14 data entrants from Arua city, 8 said they are willing to return back the money and that what they did was regrettable.
Some of the data entrants are Mikail Adam Juma, Shamim Komuntale, John Henry, Donna Munguci, Godfrey Oyimidri, John Dominic and Sandra Fariyo. Each of them admitted one by one that they used their positions to put their names.
"My name is Komuntale Shamim, I registered as a food vendor...am very sorry sir, I apologize I did so but I wasn't supposed to do that...My name is Sandra Fariyo, I'm a volunteer in the audit department, I registered myself as a waitress [I have never been a waitress]." the entrants submitted before MPs.
Committee chairperson Mapenduzi questioned why the whole process was left to the volunteers. However, the city officials said that the task was given to the statisticians.
"There are procedures to follow to recruit staff, you don't just smuggle in people. People who are not formally employed and become in charge. Probably that is why cases of mismanagement is high. Now you have them, they have penetrated your system, they can change names at will. They have paid themselves that is the consequence," Mapenduzi said.
On those who wanted to refund the money to the committee, Mapenduzi said that they have opened up an inquiry with the criminal investigations department of parliament, and people who handle the issue of receiving money will handle it but not MPs.
"Our committee is not collecting the money, our mandate is not receiving the money that you fraudulently obtained. That is not our business." Mapenduzi added.
Noah Kemisi Muzaid, Arua Central Division mayor Arua said it is sad that the data entrants did that, and even refunding the money can not help. He said that sadly the people in charge of identifying data entrants went for the cheaper option in volunteers.
Meanwhile, the committee also queried how hundreds of female boda boda riders were registered to receive the Shs 100,000 cash, and yet there are only two female boda boda riders in Arua. The data entrants and three Arua city officials were taken to record statements with the CID.