COLONEL Shaban Bantariza, has asked the General Court Martial to charges against him, saying the state was interested in persecuting him instead of prosecuting him
By Pascal Kwesiga
COLONEL Shaban Bantariza, has asked the General Court Martial to drop charges against him, saying the state was interested in persecuting him instead of prosecuting him.
Bantariza, who also served as the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) spokesperson between 2000 and 2006 said charges against him should be dismissed because the state has failed to make out a case against him.
The state alleges that Bantariza received a tractor registration number UAN 652Z and its accessories worth sh67m from the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as a donation to the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi in but he altered documents to indicate that he had bought it for the institute. He allegedly committed the offence when he was NALI director in 2011.
He was appointed to head the institute by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2009. Museveni had appointed him deputy executive director of Media Center before his trial over fraud related offences he allegedly committed at NALI began in 2013.
Bantariza is also accused of having conspired with Capt. Edison Muhairwoha, the then NALI acting finance officer in 2011 to defraud the government when the duo allegedly processed payment for the tractor.
The state alleges that Bantariza with intent to defraud diverted 500 litres of fuel for NALI in 2011. It also alleges that in October 2010, Bantariza with intent to defraud ordered for the payment for drugs worth over sh9m purportedly purchased by NALI which wasn’t the case.
The state also claims that Bantariza in 2010 subjected a UPDF warrant offer, Henry Ssesanga, to ill treatment when he hurled insults at him. Prosecution also alleges that between 2010 and 2011 Bantariza employed high handed methods of administration and failed to adhere to principals of democracy which resulted into writing of anonymous letters by soldiers.
His lawyer Frank Kanduho told court chaired by Maj. Gen. Levy Karuhanga, in Makindye, a Kampala suburb on Friday that Muhairwoha, one of the principal state witnesses, exonerated Bantariza when he stated that the tractor was purchased from Akamba Uganda Limited with NALI funds.
“This charge should collapse because the state failed to present a witness from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Akamba to prove their case that the tractor was a donation. The state was interested in persecuting the accused instead of prosecuting him,” he said. The barrister was making submissions for a no case to answer for his client.
Kanduho submitted that Muhairwoha, who was detained for over one year for having allegedly conspired with Bantariza to defraud, confirmed that he was compelled by the state to testify against the accused as a condition for his release under cross examination.
“The charge of conspiracy to defraud should also collapse because for it to stand Bantariza should have been charged with Muhairwoho,” Kanduho said.
He explained that another prosecution witness, Yunusu Kakande, the undersecretary in the office of the President “liberated” Bantariza when he said they didn’t have any complaint against the accused and that they were not aware that the tractor had been donated to NALI. The institute is under the office of the president.
Prosecution witness number ten, Tinka Oscar, Kanduho argued stated that it’s not possible that Bantariza received 500 litres of fuel on behalf of NALI because the institute never received fuel in such a huge volume.
Muhairwoha, according to Kanduho, also exonerated Bantariza of offences relating to documents when he stated that the payment voucher for the tractor was raised by the institute’s administration officer.
Warrant officer II, the then in-charge of medical department at NALI, according to Kanduho, absolved Bantariza when he stated the accused was never involved in preparing payment vouchers for drugs.
More prosecution witnesses, he said, stated that Bantariza addressed complaints over delayed allowances.
I''m being witch-hunted - Bantariza