Head of Security Services at Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA), Haruna Ssesera has today confirmed the break-in at UCA’s head offices on Nkurumah road by its embattled General Secretary, Mr. Ivan Asiimwe.
Mr. Asiimwe, along with UCA’s Board Chairperson Mr. Johnas Tweyambe were last week asked by the Commissioner for Cooperatives in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to step aside to allow for further investigations into fraud and abuse of office allegations that have dogged the Management and Board of the cooperatives’ topmost body since the beginning of this year.
Asiimwe is among others accused of forging UCA Board minutes to access UCA property and mishandling monies borrowed on behalf of the Cooperatives’ body, all on the watch of Mr. Tweyambe.
Now, in a twist of events, Ssesera told theCooperator that Asiimwe, assisted by his personal Driver, Balam Ivan early this morning stormed the UCA offices, kicked open and forcefully settled himself into the General Secretary’s office which he was ordered to vacate on Friday last week.
Sources told theCooperator that on receiving the Commissioner’s letter asking him to step aside, Asiimwe refused to hand over keys to the General Secretary’s office, forcing the Manager Administration and Finance at UCA to order for a new lock to the office.
The decision to replace locks at the office was part of several security interventions contained in an internal memo issued to all UCA staff and issued on the same day the letter asking Asiimwe and Tweyambe to step aside on 24th October 2019.
The memo, a copy of which theCooperator has seen, noted that henceforth, staff would only be allowed in office between 8am and 5 pm Monday to Friday, and no staff would be allowed to access the UCA premises during weekends.
Sources inside UCA say the measures were intended to protect all assets of the Cooperatives’ Body and important documents from being maliciously damaged or lost. They also revealed that the General Secretary’s office was specifically restricted to allow smooth takeover and investigation, “such that all staff are present when the office is opened.”
The Interno Memo was followed by a letter by the UCA Board Vice Chairperson and acting Chairperson in the absence of Mr. Tweyambe, Jacan Oyenya Ismail, who asked Asiimwe to comply with the Commissioner’s directive asking him to step aside.
“In implementing the (commissioner’s)directive, this letter is to direct you to handover office and all UCA assets in your possession to the manager in-charge of Finance and Administration in the presence of the Human Resource manager by 2:00 pm on Friday 25th October 2019, without fail,” Oyenya’s letter reads in part.
The same letter notes that Ivan Asiimwe’s suspension would be handled in accordance with UCA policy and by-laws, confirming that during the period of his suspension, Asiimwe would not be expected to officiate over any UCA business.
Despite the several orders and directives, Asiimwe has remained defiant. Sources told theCooperator that Asiimwe accessed office even on Saturday. Today, Ssesera said he(Asiimwe) was at the UCA premises by 7:00 am and was later joined by Fr. Safari the UCA Board Treasurer and Mr. Tweyambe – both known close associates, and the three proceeded to lock themselves in the General Secretary’s office.
Ssesera said he was forced to report to the nearby Nkurumah Road Police Station over the incident, prompting the Officer in Charge of the station to the UCA premises for a spot-check. On arrival, Police however neither sanctioned Asiimwe nor removed him from office.
When contacted, a Police Officer at Nkurumah Road Police station who declined to be identified said they (Police) cannot intervene in fights over office, and would only act in case of physical fight or a court order to enforce the Commissioner’s directive.
By Press time, neither Commissioner Kitandwe nor acting UCA Board Chairperson Oyenya were available for comment on UCA’s next course of action. But a member of UCA’s Management who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity told theCooperator that Mr. Oyenya has proposed a management meeting on Wednesday 30th October 2019, in which an acting General Secretary will be selected. He also said the meeting would pass a resolution seeking for ministerial guidance on how to proceed with the ongoing investigation, in the face of the new developments.