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Agriculture officer arrested over theft of OWC seedlings

Police in Katonga region have arrested the agriculture officer of Gomba District, Mr William Ssebabi for allegedly stealing 20,000 citrus seedlings worth Shs20 million meant to be distributed to farmers in the area under a government programme, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

According to Mr Joseph Musana, the Katonga region police publicist, Ssebabi was arrested on Wednesday evening from his home in Kanoni Town Council and by Thursday evening, he was still detained at Mpigi Central Police Station.

“Mr Ssebabi has been on the run with other seven suspects who are still in hiding. Using our intelligence, we found him at his home as he had just arrived from unknown place.

This should be a warning to all public workers that failing a government programme through sabotage of any nature; be it theft, corruption, bribery or embezzlement, is unlawful and we (police) are ready to punish all saboteurs severely because they are enemies of the state,” Mr Musana said during a press conference at Mpigi Central Police Station.

He added: “We are going to charge him with conspiracy to commit a felony, forgery and theft as we are trying to look for other suspects including; OWC coordinator in Gomba, two store assistants, two individual suppliers, one driver and Gomba District internal auditor, to apprehend and prosecute them in the Courts of Law.”

Lt. Moses Mugisha, the OWC procurement officer said that the suspects forged delivery and distribution documents before selling the seedlings.

“They used to put signatures on delivery and distribution papers but then afterwards, they took back the seedlings to either nurseries or sell them to traders and farmers in other districts,” he said.

OWC is a rebrand of the National Agricultural Advisory Service (Naads), which was established in 2002 to create a system that facilitates effective national social-economic transformation with the focus of raising household incomes to eradicate poverty and sustainable wealth creation.

However, soldiers who are spearheading the distribution of OWC farm implements have on several occasions been accused of supplying seeds that fail to germinate and cows which are unproductive.

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