KAMPALA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: A U-turn by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to reinstate charges involving fraudulent compensation of Shs.142bn against Hassan and Muzamir Basajjabalaba has caused panic and uneasiness among the two brothers.
News to reinstate the charges come at the elapse of an ultimatum issued to the DPP Jane Frances Abodo by a nonprofit agency Legal Brain Trust (LBT), headed by Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde.
It emerged last week that the DPP had clandestinely in August this year dropped charges against the Basajjabalaba brothers. They face three counts of forging a court order and uttering the same to different government offices while they also conspired to steal government revenue by refusing to pay tax.
The problems emanate from management deals of city markets and the constitutional square that KCC had issued and cancelled to five companies of Basajjabala.
In arguments fronted to drop the Basajjabalaba charges assistant DPP Ms Josephine Namatovu, who is in charge of the anti- corruption, reported to the DPP that the witnesses died.
But the LBT head, Ssemakadde rubbished the claim saying his agency wields huge lineup of witnesses and evidence and “unless it is complicity in corruption, the DPP arguments cannot hold.” LBT seeks to establish the rule of law, ensure equal and equitable access to justice and tackle the root causes of exclusion, vulnerability and poverty in Africa.
“So now we are asking, which witness died? We have identified only one witness that died – Hon Peter Nyombi but he was at the tip of the vast pyramid, he was the attorney general and below him, there is a solicitor general and director of civil litigation, all of who have first hand evidence which is sufficient,” Ssemakadde said.
“Abodo we give you three days beginning (Friday last week) to reinstate the case else we will undress you on December 14.”, Ssemakadde threatened.
Ms. Abodo had ridiculed the law, Ssemakadde said. In May 2018, the constitutional court ordered the Basajjabalaba brothers to stand trial before the Anti-corruption court.
In compliance to Ssemakadde’s ultimatum, the DPP said the charges will be reinstated and that discharging the two brothers was only allow for fresh investigations.
In a series of tweets which she also repeated in a Radio One talk show on Tuesday, Ms. Abodo said that she had handled the Basajjabala case for ten years. “Just as we were about to start prosecution, the accused ran to the constitutional court. The court halted the trial, so we had to withdraw the case before it was dismissed. So the case derailed.”
“As an office, we rely on evidence on the file to make decisions. We don’t act maliciously. Corruption affects all of us and the fight against corruption should be taken by all of us.” Abodo said.
But Ssemakadde shot back to Abodo saying she was “huffing and puffing”.
“(This) is blowing hot and cold, on the question of the day- Why did you withdraw the Ssemakadde/Basajjabalaba case? She blames the Constitutional Court for the delay and claims that the case was withdrawn to be refiled later.”
Understanding Bassajjabalaba’s alleged fraud
Basajjabalaba was paid Shs. 142bn on account of a forged court consent. The consent arose from a case Basajjabalaba’s companies Haba Group, Sheila Investments, First Merchant, Ltd, Victoria International Trading Co and Yudaya International Ltd against the attorney General. The said case was discovered to have been a hoax.
The consent quoting alleged letters from the President the stated that agreements had been reached between the attorney General and Basajjabalaba companies to pay him Shs 63bn for losses incurred in Nakasero market, Shs.70bn for losses at the Constitutional square and Shs. 2bn for the lost interests in St. Balikuddembe Market. The consent also gave a further amount of Shs.5bn but without purpose against it. He was paid all the money through four banks.
“The above shall be paid immediately…and not to be subjected to taxes, levies. In case the defendant or its agents interfere with the above, the plaintiff shall have a right to seek further damages,” the consent dated October 6, 2010 reads.
Basajjabalaba allegedly presented the forged court the Uganda revenue Authority (URA), the Attorney General and various other offices.
On conviction Basajjabalaba faces 45 years in jail.
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