URA Commissioner General Doris Akol. PHOTO/Wilfred Sanya
A Kampala lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde has petitioned High Court seeking orders to sue Doris Akol, the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on behalf of those who received the oil case bonuses.
Isaac Ssemakadde of Legal Brains Trust (LTB) Limited filed the application by way of chamber summons at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala on Tuesday.
In her affidavit in support of the application, Catherine Nabirye, who is also a lawyer, argues that Akol and other officials allegedly received the impugned cash bonuses through unlawful, irrational, unfair, arbitrary and unjustifiable procedure and thus they ought to refund the monies to the national treasury.
"The action intended to be brought by the applicant would entail questions of law and fact common to each member of the proposed class," she avers.
The finance ministry last week confirmed that close to sh6b was paid out to government officials as bonus for their role in the case that Uganda won against oil companies in London.
Isaac Ssemakadde of Legal Brains Trust
The 42 beneficiaries included officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority, the Treasury, office of the Attorney General/Solicitor General, Energy ministry among others.
Nabirye says Akol will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the proposed class since she is the responsible accounting officer who disbursed or authorized the disbursement of the impugned cash bonuses.
"Representative order is not only necessary and efficient but also fair to all members of the proposed class who may not be named as respondents in the intended action," she states in the affidavit.
Nabirye claims that President Yoweri Museveni had no authority to clear payment of the impugned cash bonuses because they had not yet been determined in a lawful, transparent, judicious, rational, fair and just manner.
She further claims that Akol had conflict of interest in the oil case cash bonuses and did not only generate the letter requesting the President to reward the recipients but she also determined the amount to be paid to each recipient.
Meanwhile, Ssemakadde has also petitioned the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe complaining over the purported continued illegal ex-parte (one party) interim orders issued by his deputy Steven Kavuma while executing judicial powers.
This follows an order issued by Kavuma on Monday barring Parliament from investigating the sh6b bonus paid to public servants, who contributed to the winning of taxation cases against oil companies.
The petition was filed by Eric Sabiiti, the senior legal officer in charge of litigation at the Electoral Commission (EC), seeking a court order discontinuing and permanently stopping Parliament from inquiring into the said payments.
Ssemakadde argues that the conduct of Kavuma is not only a clear breach of the constitutional guarantees and system of judicial and parliamentary checks on abuse or misuse of powers by the executive but also a demonstration of the return of partisan and tyrannical tendencies at the bench that would bring the judiciary and the rule of law into disrepute.
"It is surprising that the constitutional court/ Court of appeal seldom empanels a Coram to dispose of the substantive applications for temporary injections to which Kavuma interim orders are pegged, thus giving the impugned interim orders a perpetual lifetime," Ssemakadde said.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party (DP) on Tuesday called upon the beneficiaries of the sh6b oil cash bonus to refund the money with interest.
While, addressing a press conference at their offices in Kampala, DP president Nobert Mao said that the party has joined Parliament and the general public to denounce the controversial bonus payments to "selected" government officials after recovery of capital gains tax from Tullow Oil Company.
This, Mao said is meant to avoid creating a moral hazard and demoralizing other dedicated public servants.
"Unfortunately, the beneficiaries of the Tullow cash bonus are well paid to serve Uganda. In future they will get massive pensions and gratuities," he added.