By Agatha Muhaise
Two men were arrested on September 26 by the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Police for allegedly collecting money from students promising to assist them clear their retakes.
The two, Andrew Geoffrey Lwanga, a cleaner at Maybach Bar and Restaurant, and Herman Okia, a former Information Technology student of UCU and manager of Maybach Bar and Restaurant, were posing as university staff.
They convinced up to four desperate students that they had a way of enabling them clear their retakes and be able to graduate in October.
According to the police, the students were being asked to pay Shs400,000 per retake. Lwanga was picked up from Satellite Beach, after Mr Herman Mukiibi, a lecturer in Foundation Studies, tipped off the police about the scam.
Earlier, Mr Mukiibi had been informed of the conmen’s activities by a friend of one of the students who fell victim to the scam.Later the police also picked up Herman Okia from his work place.
Victims speak out
Cynthia Tracy Umahoro, a Mass Communication student at UCU, reported that on September 20, she was called by a man who identified himself as Andrew Lwanga. The caller claimed to work with the Information Technology department of UCU, and he had details about the student’s performance.
“He promised to make the retakes go away if I was willing to pay Shs400,000 for each paper. We agreed to meet at Star Gardens for further discussions and payment,” Umahoro said.
“I went with a friend, Lillian Rukundo, also a student of Mass Communication, for the meeting. My friend had three retakes and figured she could also use Lwanga’s ‘magic’ services.”
“Lwanga had a list of names of students with retakes, and their contacts. This
convinced us and we were willing to pay a down payment for the process to begin.”
She adds that she sent Shs250,000 to Lwanga, and Lillian Rukundo agreed to pay Shs200,000 as advance payment for the services.
Hope Atwine, also a student of Mass Communication at UCU, claims that she was called by Lwanga with the offer to make the retakes go away.
“With a total of three retakes, I had to raise Shs1.2 million, but that is a lot of money. So I negotiated with Lwanga. He reduced the charges and I gave him an advance of Shs50,000. I handed over the money during a meeting at Satellite Beach, Mukono,” Atwine said.
She adds that in subsequent days she also received nagging calls from Lwanga, asking for the balance of the fees.
When Lwanga was interrogated by Mr John Bahemuka Toa, the UCU legal officer, and Mr Charles Nahamya, the head of security at UCU, he said that the mastermind of the operation was his manager, Herman Okia.
Okia took advantage of the information that his friend (Cynthia Tracy Umahoro) had narrated to him about his retakes. He then told me that Umahoro would call me soon, and we would get money out of the scam.
“I met with all the victims, received money from them and shared it with Okia,” he said.
Lwanga added that the scam went bad for them when one Scovia Auma called him and said she was willing to pay Shs1 million for the same services.
“At our meeting at Satellite, Auma came with a male friend who kept on asking questions about the process, which I could not answer. That is when another man was called in and I was arrested,” Lwanga said.
Herman Okia, however, tells a contradicting tale. “I told Lwanga about a girl I met at a party last year, who has retakes and may drop out of school. I did not con anyone although I received some of the money that Lwanga got out of this deal,” he said.
Bahemuka Toa said there are clear outlined procedures on how to deal with such situations. “There are no short-cuts whatsoever. We are here to protect the academic quality of the university and anyone who compromises that will face the full extent of the law.”
By press time, efforts by The Standard to reach Mr Mukiibi, who filed the case with police under file number SD12/26/09/2016, were futile.
The accused have since been released on police bond, after they made a written agreement promising to pay back the money to the defrauded students soon.