Ombudsman cracks whip on bribery

Deputy Ombudsman in charge of preventing and fighting corruption Clément Musangabatware. / Sam Ngendahimana

The Office of the Ombudsman has initiated a fresh thrust against corruption with suspects being arrested and more such investigations continue, according to an official.

In the past few days, alone, two separate cases have been at the centre of public attention.

Officials on Thursday confirmed the arrest of Théoneste Komeza, an investigator in a special unit in charge of corruption in the Office of the Ombudsman. Komeza is being pursued for a corruption-related case allegedly committed eight years ago, before he started working at the Office of Ombudsman.

Then there has been the arrest of John Niyibizi, an officer who was in charge of Administration and Finance at the Ministry of Education, also by the Office of the Ombudsman, over two cases that include his lack of explaining the source of his wealth.

Niyibizi was temporary suspended on March 1.

In an interview with Sunday Times, Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, the spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman, confirmed that they then arrested him on March 13. He is detained at the Kimihurura Police Station.

Asked how many other such cases they have, Nkurunziza, said: “I cannot commit myself to say the number but some are in the pipeline of either investigation or prosecution.”

He acknowledged that the momentum against corruption is being upped.

“We are trying our best, with everything being based on available evidence. We have been trying but, always, it is about enough evidence in a corruption case.”

Nkurunziza appealed to everyone in the public, and especially “even you journalists should help us” because, he explained, corruption is a crosscutting issue.

Nkurunziza said that the Office of the Ombudsman presently has two prosecutors of its own.

Last year, a new penal law determining offences and penalties in general – which replaced the previous penal code – was published.

The crime of corruption was reviewed to remove ambiguity under the previous law where there were instances where offences would be called “corruption” while others were called “offences related to corruption,” a situation that often caused unwarranted confusion and feebleness in the crusade against corruption.

Unlike before, today, embezzlement, bribery, unjustified wealth and other such issues now imply the same thing – corruption – and will carry higher fines and punishments.

And, lately, corruption is imprescriptible, meaning that it cannot be taken away by lapse of time. It means that if someone is being pursued for corruption, the offense does not die before the suspected offender.



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