ARUA. Maracha East County Member of Parliament (MP), James Acidri has come out publicly to defend the decision he took to return the controversial shs20 million to the Parliamentary Commission account.
He said his role as an MP is not to carry public funds.
Speaking to journalists in Arua town on Thursday, Acidri noted that it was illegal for him to hand over the cash to the district coronavirus disease (COVID-19) task force as many of his colleagues have done just because the act contravenes the law.
“Is it fair for me to follow an illegal directive not backed by law?” Acidri asked, adding that my core roles as a Member of Parliament are legislation, appropriation and oversight but not to be carrying around public money.
Acidri said by returning the money to the Parliamentary Commission, he respected the law, policies of the day and institutions moreover, it was a court order that MPs were directed to take the shs20 million back to where it had been paid from.
“I will rather respect a court order than an illegal directive by the President. That is a clear difference; a court order is more legally binding than the directive of the President - that I agreed with the Speaker to resolve this problem, so take the money to the district. Agree using which law? Acidri wondered.
He said there is no legal basis of bringing money to the district by a Member of Parliament.
Earlier on, Ms Esther Soet, the Maracha resident district commissioner (RDC) castigated MP Acidri for returning the money to the Parliamentary Commission.
According to Soet, Acidri would have instead brought the money home to help the people who voted him to Parliament since many are suffering of hunger during the ongoing lockdown.
But Acidri said the people of Maracha even know that he has done the right thing by taking the money back to the source.
“It is the most moral thing you can do and in the Lugbara culture, when you have been accused of stealing something (the way President Museveni referred to the Parliamentary decision to allocate the shs10 billion to MPs), the best thing you do is to take it back to the source,” Acidri emphasized.
He, however, said Soet accused him of returning the money merely because of lack of intelligence and her ability not to learn.
Reports now indicate that MPs who have not yet spent the shs20 million given to them as facilitation for their COVID-19 activities have been given an ultimatum to return the money by May 27.
In a letter dated May 12, the Clerk to Parliament Ms Jane Kibirige observed that following a meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on May 11, the Commission guided that MPs who spent the money as of May 5, should submit accountability to the Clerk to Parliament.