Former Soroti Univ Secretary sentenced to 5 years in prison for diverting 1 billion Univ Funds

Former Soroti University secretary Mrs. Ruth Achimo Etibot paid Shs 1bn as legal fees in a space of 3 months without following proper procurement procedures & went ahead to conceal the payments

The Anti-Corruption court presided over by lady justice Margaret Tibulya convicted Achimo on charges of abuse of office, two counts of diversion of public resources, one count of fraudulent false accounting and one count of false accounting by a public officer.

Achimo who doubled as the accounting officer was initially charged together with Edward Obeele, the university bursar. However, Obeele pleaded guilty to the charges through plea bargain and was sentenced to a fine. As a result, the prosecution led by James Khaukha proceeded with the case to full trial against Achimo.

The prosecution proved to court that Achimo while serving as a university secretary/accounting officer signed a legal services agreement (on behalf of the university) with Okurut & Company Advocates for the 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 to offer legal services.

According to the evidence that was submitted to court, Achimo eventually used her position as accounting officer and paid the said law firm Shs 1,025,265,000 as legal fees in a space of three months. The court heard that the said monies were diverted from capital development because the legal services were not budgeted for under the financial year 2017/2018 when it was diverted.

The evidence further indicates that Achimo diverted more monies from capital development to cater for staff allowances and other non-current expenditures.

The accused agreed with the court assessors that the charges against her were sufficiently proved and went ahead to enter convictions against her. While sentencing her, the trial judge stated that the convict’s actions were irregular and with blatant impunity which no amount of explanation could sanitize.

Achimo also been disqualified from holding a public office for the next 10 years.

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