Minister of Trade, Industries, and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa has sent the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), David Livingstone Ebiru, on a six months forced leave over allegations of fraud and misconduct.
Ebiru’s suspension from office was contained in a letter dated 20 July 2023 addressed to him by the Minister with immediate effect to enable sufficient investigations into the alleged misappropriation of funds, misconduct, and abuse of office.
“In light of the serious allegations against you, you are hereby directed to step aside for a period of six months with effect from 20 July 2023 to enable sufficient investigations into your misappropriation of funds, misconduct, and abuse of office”, the Minister’s letter partly read.
“By copy of this letter, the Chairperson of the Standards Council should ensure that a suitable caretaker of the office is identified and the matter is sufficiently investigated within the set timelines while following the law”
Ebiru is accused of masterminding an expenditure of 12.5 billion Shillings without approval from the Ministry of Finance and Parliament following the Auditor General’s Report for the fiscal year 2021/2022 on the financial statements of UNBS.
The issue came to light through a probe instigated by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (PAC-COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi.
It emerged that Ebiru caused the transfer of funds in question from the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) suppliers account to a Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) account, a program under UNBS designated to receive donor funds.
During the probe, Charles Musekuura, the Chairperson of the UNBS Board revealed that out of the 17.964 billion Shillings in the GAIN account, Ebiru only authorized 5.499 billion Shillings) to be sent to the Consolidated Fund. The remaining 12.464 billion Shillings were converted and utilized as per Ebiru’s directives to support the operations of the Bureau.
In response, Ebiru acknowledged that his actions were contrary to the Public Finance Management Act of 2014 but justified them by stating that they were necessary to fulfill the Bureau’s critical obligations after experiencing a budget cut of 20 billion Shillings during the reviewed fiscal year.
On the 26th and 27th of June 2023, the Inspectorate of Government and UNBS Board had written letters respectively to suspend Ebiru from office to allow for investigations following the malpractice.
However, by his own shocking confession, Ebiru revealed that he bribed the Board of UNBS with 100 million Shillings to elude suspension.