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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Conflict of interest: Police drop 37bn/- corruption probe

THE Tanzania Police has disqualified itself from an investigation into allegations of impropriety in a controversial contract worth around 37 billion/.
THE FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE, SAID MWEMA

The contract was signed with a Dar es Salaam-based private company, Lugumi Enterprises Limited, for the supply of fingerprint scanners, citing conflict of interest.

The police force said since it was a party to the contract, it could not investigate itself.

The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in the Tanzania Police Force, Diwani Athumani, told The Guardian yesterday that the investigation into the contract has been handed over to the government's anti-graft watchdog, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).

“We are following the matter closely. Investigations will be done by PCCB because we want members of the public to have confidence in the credibility of the final findings,” he noted.The contract was sealed in 2011 during the tenure of the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Said Mwema.

When contacted by The Guardian yesterday, Mwema declined to comment on the allegations of corruption in the deal.

Mwema, who currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of Exim Bank Tanzania, previously worked as the head of the international criminal police organization (Interpol) regional office in Nairobi.

There has been a protracted tug-of-war between the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the police force over the investigation.

The Bunge watchdog committee this week issued a new three-day ultimatum to the police force to present the contract with Lugumi Enterprises Ltd by tomorrow for parliamentary scrutiny.

But the incumbent IGP, Ernest Mangu, said the police force was not answerable to parliament and hence would not honour the deadline.

The IGP insisted that the police could only submit the contract to the home affairs minister if he instructed it to do so.

According to the PAC, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) said in its government audit report for fiscal year 2013/14 that there were serious shortcomings in the implementation of the contract between the police and the private firm.

The scanners were reportedly supposed to be installed in over 100 district police stations across the country, but the PAC said the contract was implemented by just 10 per cent despite already being paid for by about 99 per cent.

Representatives of Lugumi Enterprises, which has been awarded several multi-million shilling contracts by various government ministries and state-run agencies over the past few years, were yesterday not immediately available for comment.

The fingerprint technology was expected to significantly improve police efficiency in carrying out criminal investigations and positively identifying suspects.

There was also conflicting reports on whether or not the police had finally decided to submit the contract to another parliamentary watchdog team, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security committee chaired by Adadi Rajabu.

When contacted by The Guardian for comment, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Projest Rwegasira, dismissed reports that his ministry had submitted the contract for the supply of fingerprints to the police to the parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security committee.

“I have special directives from the Public Accounts Committee. So far I have not submitted the contract to any authority,” he said, without explaining.

A TANGLED WEB

While the police force has dropped the investigation citing conflict of interest, all the key players in the ongoing investigation have tangled relationships between them linking them to the police.

The current IGP, Mangu, and other senior officials of the police force all previously worked under Mwema when he served as the country's police chief

The current PCCB director-general, Valentino Mlowola, previously served in the police as a regional police commander (RPC) and chief of police intelligence when Mwema was the IGP.

Similarly, the current chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security committee, Adadi Rajabu, is a former Director of Criminal Investigations in the police force, who also reported to Mwema.

This means that is the allegations against the police force over the procurement contract are formally presented to the PCCB and the parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security committee, both Mlowola and Adadi respectively would be asked to possibly investigate allegations against their former boss, ex-IGP Mwema.

Parliamentary sources say other high-profile individuals could also be implicated in the deal if the investigations unravel "hidden" faces behind the contract.

According to official records from the government's procurement watchdog, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), Lugumi Enterprises, is registered as a service providers to the government for various procurement service.

The company is registered by the government as a supplier of a wide range of services, including office stationery, fumigation services, maintenance of office equipment, provider of firefighting equipment and office consumables and accessories.

PPRA documents show that the firm has over the years been awarded several other contracts by government institutions, such as a contract worth 846.5 million with the Ministry of Home Affairs for the supply of "security goods." The contract was signed on 7 June 2010.

In September 2014, the same company was awarded another contract by the state-run Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) valued at over 140m/- for the supply of stationery.

The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA), another government body, signed a contract with Lugumi in December 2014 worth over 20m/- for the supply of diaries, seasonal greeting cards and calendars.
/IPPMEDIA

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