Katosi Road Scam: Defence Lawyers Try To Block Igg

Katosi road scam: defence lawyers try to block igg
Appeared in The Daily Monitoron 03 Oct 2021

Defence lawyers in the Mukono-Katosi road scam have moved to block the Inspectorate of Government’s (IG) appeal against the acquittal of former transport minister Eng. Abraham Byandala.

The scam led to a sh24.7b loss to the Government. The lawyers representing Byandala and three others asked the Court of Appeal to disallow hearing of the appeal, saying it is incompetent because the IGG did not serve them with notice of appeal and record of proceedings.

Others are former Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) acting executive director Berunado Kimeze Ssebbugga, former UNRA lawyer Marvin Baryaruha and a former Housing Finance Bank official Isaac Mugote. The lawyers say as far as they are concerned, there is no appeal before the Court of Appeal.

Appearing before a panel of three justices led by Elizabeth Musoke recently, lawyer David Mpanga, who represents Baryaruha, said they cannot file written submissions because they do not have a record of proceedings.

Other justices on the panel are Cheborion Barishaki and Christopher Madrama. The judges will communicate to the parties a date when they will deliver a ruling on the application.

Mpanga told court that the four respondents were acquitted and are not on bail, which is not the case with appellants, businessman Apollo Senkeeto, former UNRA director of finance and administration Joe Ssemugooma and former UNRA regional accountant Wilberforce Senjako, who were convicted.

He, therefore, said the respondents are not guaranteed under the law to appear in court for the appeal hearing.

Mpanga objected to the consolidation of two appeals, saying one filed against the respondents is incompetent.

Defence lawyers Peter Mulira, Ivan Engoru, Norah Kaggwa and Robert Matovu associated their submissions with that of Mpanga that there is no appeal against the respondents because they were not served.

Engoru said there was no need to adjourn the matter to have the appeals consolidated in light of Rule 64, 65 of the Court of Appeal rules.

“Once there is no record of appeal, the memorandum of appeal is inconsequential,” he said.

Meanwhile, Norah Kaggwa observed that the IGG did not provide addresses of the respondents so that the court registrar can reach them.

“The court registrar cannot serve respondents who are not known to her, that is why we do not have record of appeal,” she noted.

REBUTTAL

In rebuttal, Brenda Kimbugwe, the IG manager of prosecutions, insisted that she served the respondents with the notice of appeal, memorandum of appeal and submissions.

She said if given time, she will produce a notice of service in court, showing the respondents were served.

Kimbugwe, however, cited Rule 65 of the Court of Appeal rules, saying the mandate of service is with the court registrar.

Asked by Justice Barishaki what happens if notice of appeal and record of proceedings is not served to the other party, Kimbugwe said she stands by her application to have the appeal consolidated because it emanates from the same judgement.

She, however, said she was not ready to proceed with the appeal because the respondents were not physically in court and sought they would follow the proceedings on Zoom, as suggested by the court registrar, in vain.

JUDGE’S DIRECTIVE

The justices adjourned to the next session the hearing of the IGG’s appeal against the sentences handed to Senkeeto, Ssemugooma and Senjako.

The IGG described their sentences as lenient to meet the ends of justice.

Senkeeto was sentenced to a 10-year imprisonment, while UNRA officials to five years each. They are currently out on bail, pending determination of their appeal.

Justice Barishaki adjourned the appeal on grounds that the appellants neither appeared in court for hearing nor followed the proceedings via video link.

HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT

In August 2018, High Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu convicted Senkeeto, saying his manipulation skills in sealing a contract between UNRA and his fake company Eutaw were “phenomenal”.

Gidudu said Senkeeto manipulated the entire UNRA procurement process and got free money.

“Senkeeto had exceptional manipulation skills and produced document orders using his computer at his home, and smartly delivered it to UNRA,” Gidudu earlier said.

This prompted Gidudu to convict Senkeeto of nine counts of theft, including uttering false documents and obtaining execution of a security by false pretence.

Meanwhile, the former UNRA bosses were convicted for neglect of duty by failing to verify performance guarantees and securities purported to have been issued by Housing Finance Bank, which Senkeeto presented to UNRA.

The judge faulted the two UNRA bosses for aiding to steal the money based on false securities.

According to the judge, if the duo had not helped Senkeeto, his fake company, Eutaw’s bid would have collapsed at a tender stage or would have been disqualified from participating in the bidding process.

“The two advised him to replace the forged securities and backdated them to ensure that the scheme succeeds,” he said. Gidudu said it was incumbent upon the duo to report to management that the bid from Eutaw was unsupported by valid securities.