By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFT MEDIA] Uganda’s former envoy to Kenya, and Ex-wife to former State Minister for Health Awere Phibby Otaala is on the spot once again.
She was on the spot some years ago for refusing to hand over office to Dr Hassan Galiwango as new ambassador to Kenya who had been nominated by President Museveni and vetted by Parliament.
This time round, two disgruntled ‘Job seekers’ Orisa Lambert and his brother Onyango Gilbert have dragged her to court accusing her of defrauding them with ‘empty’ job offers abroad. Her agents deny the claims.
According to our investigations, early this year (2023) a Watsup message channeled by a one Simeo Oyese, then working as Country Coordinator at Majestic International Tours & Travel Limited, that belongs to Phibby Otaala sent messages of job offers to the unemployed youths.
Armed with joy and ecstasy, Lambert Orisa, a qualified Chef, and his brother Onyango Gilbert followed the messages to the meeting venue at Kiwatule Recreation Center in the outskirts of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Its here that the due and scores of others were oriented and promised lucrative jobs in Poland and Germany.
Lambert and Onyango reveal that they were told to pay UGX6 million (USD 1600) as processing fees. “We were also told to urgently process passports where our visas were to be stamped,” said Lambert. The duo revealed that given the urgency of the matter, they opted for loans, to secure the money for processing the job offers, passports and air tickets.
Onyango Gilbert paid Shs 6 m on Feb 6 2023, and was issued with a receipt from Majestic International Tours & Travel Limited, while Lambert paid on February 20 2023. “We were told that we would travel by May 8 2023. But when we sensed delays, we became suspicious and demanded for our refund of shs 12 m (USD 3200),” said Lambert. He says that they were told that the President was the one supposed to flag the first batch of the group leaving for Germany and Poland.
Apparently, we established that over 200 desperate job-hunting youth were lured into this job offer, with each paying the required processing fees of UGX 6 million.
Lambert and his brother decided to seek legal means to recover their monies after efforts to get the refund hit a dead end. ‘We opted for this after realising that our money wasnt forwarded for work permits to Poland as promised,” said Lambert.
Through their lawyers; M/s Karamagi, Magezi & Company Advocates, they filed a suit (Civil Suit No.389) at the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court in July 2023. Details from Nakawa court reveal that a date is set for full hearing starting January 2024.
Ministry of Gender Rubbishes Majestic International Tours
Sensing more suspected “fraud”, the complainant wrote to the Ministry of Gender seeking to confirm if Phibby Awere’s Majestic International Tours and Travel is licensed to engage in Labor export. In a response to Gilbert Onyango dated September 25 2023, signed by Hilary Telemwa on behalf of the Permanent Secretary (That we obtained), the Ministry noted that Majestic Tours and Travel Limited wasn’t licensed by them to engage in labor export. The Permanent Secretary advised Lambert to seek police services to recover his monies.
Phibby Speaks Out
Our frantic efforts to get a comment from Phibby Awere Otaala hit a dead end as we were told by her close Private Secretary that she was out of the country on a same mission to sort out the pending job issues.
We sought out a comment from Felister Etiang the Finance Director at Majestic International Tours and Travel Limited. Felister, who said she comes out to help Phibby noted that all that Phibby was doing was to help the scores of jobless youths in Uganda. “I am aware about that company, and as we speak the ambassador is out of the country following up on the matter. It is a process that cant be worked upon in one day,” said Felister. ‘The lady is outside, she has gone to sort the issue, so what is the problem? she mused. She said she just helps her to coordinate her activities when she is out of the country. ‘I am not a signatory, they are supposed to be patient, the lady has traveled to secure job offers, that is tarnishing ones image,” explained Felister.
She said that the fact the job offers have come, indicates money has been paid for that job offer. “This is an on going offer, and many people are going to be taken. She has been taken people, and the Ministry of Gender is aware. She has done everything, but its the embassies that delay to issue visas,” she explained.
Why Expose Court Issues
“I am aware of the two boys, (Lambert and Onyango) we even traveled to their country home in Tororo and talked to their parents. I don’t know why they went to court. When Ambassador learnt that they went to court she talked to her lawyers to handle them,” said Felister. “Those boys parents talked to them to withdraw the case and get refunded.”
She said Lambert and Onyango have hit a dead=end and are set to lose the case. “Court cases take long, we traveled and met the parents, we agreed that they withdraw the case and get their refund. Phibby has a named to protect, and even the President knows she is helping jobless youth get jobs.” “That is why she (Phibby) moves with her head head high because she knows she hasn’t cheated anyone, and remember she didn’t call any one, they are the ones who approached her desperately.”
Felister says further: “Going forward let them withdraw the case, as long as they have the receipts, i can talk to Phibby and they get their refund immediately. They will not achieve anything from that case, and the man from Poland has already written to court stating he is going to employ them,” she said.
Felister explains that over 30 Ugandans are set to travel to Poland, but its these desperate two (Lambert and Onyango) who are making noise. “Phibby is really trying, its not her problem, these issues are above her, she is even trying to meet Kenyan President Ruto to help with the Polish embassy in Nairobi,” she said.
We contacted management at the Polish based recruitment firm POLMETKON, and they acknowledged having a collaboration regarding securing jobs and employment for Ugandans. The management however declined to reveal how many work permits had been processed for Ugandans, terms of recruitment, payment, and others.