Exiled former Ugandan Cabinet Minister of Gender Labor and Social Development, Zoe Bakoko Bakoru, says $5m (then Shs5bn) was being siphoned every month from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
Bakoko who fled the country in 2007 appeared on Sahara TV in 2014 and chronicled what she called “corrupt practices” under President Yoweri Museveni’s administration.
According to Bakoko, during her time as cabinet minister, she was asked to investigate stolen funds from Uganda’s social security fund.
“I was told to reorganize the funds but I was warned that it might come back to bite me,” said Bakoko.
During her monitoring of the funds she discovered large sums of money missing every month.
“The money started getting to trillions. I started getting threats,” said Bakoko who now lives in the U.S.
“I was warned not to go back because I would be used as a sacrificial lamb,” says Bakoko.
She claims she later learned the money was being spirited to the Marshall Islands through an associate of President Yoweri Museveni’s brother, Salim Saleh, the presidential Advisor on Military Affairs.
The associate was a business man named Emma Kato, who worked closely with Gen Saleh.
Ms. Bakoru says Gen. Museveni, after appointing her minister, summoned her for a meeting also attended by the late Attorney General, Francis Ayume.
Ms. Bakoru says the president told her that his intelligence services had found that money from NSSF had been stolen to finance the opposition candidates and parties in Uganda’s 2001 elections.
“All these things will actually be traced back to the boss”.
At the same time the suspended fund executives lobbied the country’s then Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, and the then Vice President, Gilbert Bukenya, to bring pressure on her in the country’s Parliament.
Bakoru says as the fund grew rapidly she started getting chits from the Office of the President and from the Office of the First Lady, Janet Museveni, asking for money from the fund.
She says Saleh called her together with former NSSF board chairman, Geoffrey Onegi-Obel, to his home on several occasions to ask her for money from the NSSF.
When she went to US in 2007 to attend a meeting on Women at the United Nations, Uganda’s then Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador (Francis) Butagira warned her not to return to Uganda.
She only met Museveni yesterday in New York and reportedly asked him to let her turn home.
Bakoru was a Member of Parliament in Uganda (Woman; Arua District 1996-2001, and Ayivu Constituency 2001-2006).
She was the Cabinet Minister incharge of Gender Labor and Social Development from 2001-2006.