KIGALI - The Office of the Prosecutor General has revealed that at least 17 cases of people involved in mismanagement of money for the Fund for Support of Genocide Survivors (FARG) are under investigations.
This was revealed Wednesday by Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, in reply to accusations by the Fund’s Executive Secretary, Jean Marie Karekezi that the judiciary was not doing enough to bring to book persons involved in the scams.
The Fund has since its establishment ten years ago, been marred by misappropriation of funds at the expense of the vulnerable survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
According to Ngoga, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in the National Police is handling 17 cases of gross irregularities within the Fund and that cases involving government officials were initially handled by the Attorney General. He said that the reason they were brought to his office was because they were categorized as criminal cases.
The prosecution in turn, handed the cases over to the CID for investigation but the latter has requested for ample time to investigate the cases claiming that they were broad cases that could take a lot of time.
Efforts to contact the CID Director Christophe Bizimungu were unsuccessful by press time as his phone was switched off.
Karekezi had earlier told The New Times that some officials who were reported to the police for creating the irregularities have walked away free without being prosecuted.
Some of the irregularities that have long characterised the institution include creating ghost beneficiaries, poor construction of survivors’ houses, corruption and mismanagement of funds.
Asked if there cases that are being handled by some legal entities, Karekezi said that there is only one case and stressed that FARG is frustrated because police had not provided full cooperation in following up those involved in the irregularities.
“There is only one case, nothing more, there is no authority making any effort to follow up the irregularities,” Karekezi emphasized his point.
However, according to Ngoga, Karekezi’s accusations were made a month after the former called for an emergency meeting to address these issues. He said that this meeting was attended by the State Minister in charge of Social welfare, Christine Nyatanyi.
During the meeting, Karekezi was requested to draw a list of people suspected to be involved in the irregularities; he was also given specific time to compile the list.
“But up to now Karekezi’s office has not produced the list,” accused Ngoga.
Asked why the list was not produced, Karekezi said that the list would be produced from the ongoing validation process that kicked off today.
“We intend to get the lists from the local authorities who are meeting tomorrow (Thursday) and those are the lists that would be provided to the local government and prosecution,” Karekezi said.
However, pundits questioned the authenticity of the lists since there are some local officials who are directly involved in the irregularities and would not include themselves on the list.
Ngoga said: “I personally took the initiative of clearing the FARG problem and I went to the local government ministry and held a meeting with Nyatanyi and Karekezi and part of offers tabled before FARG was to establish a team made up of the policemen and prosecutors who would go on the field and apprehend whoever was suspected of creating the irregularities, but we never got a feedback from FARG.”
He emphasized that he called the crisis meeting himself to ensure that his office gets a list of suspects but has up to date not received the list.
“There should not be blame-shifting, and count-attacks. If FARG is failing handle its issues, they should not blame any other institution; prosecution and the police are willing to collaborate, but this can only succeed if there are leads provided by FARG,” the Prosecutor said.
State Minister Nyatanyi was not available for comment as her phone was being picked by her secretary the whole of yesterday.
Ngoga added that the FARG problem is a complex one and that it should be handled broadly not just through individual cases saying that was the reason 17 cases were being investigated by the CID.
Meanwhile the government is partnering with the Ministry of Local Government in the process of hiring private firms that would assess and estimate the value of all houses that have been constructed for Genocide survivors since 1998.