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Naava charged with fraud aces fraud charged with fraud

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th March 2010 03:00 AM

UGANDANS are so obsessed with going abroad for greener pastures. So in 2004, when they heard that presidential aide Naava Nabagesera was recruiting people to work in the UK, several responded. They were requested to pay some money for transport, medical reports, visas and work permits.

UGANDANS are so obsessed with going abroad for greener pastures. So in 2004, when they heard that presidential aide Naava Nabagesera was recruiting people to work in the UK, several responded. They were requested to pay some money for transport, medical reports, visas and work permits.

By Edward Anyoli

UGANDANS are so obsessed with going abroad for greener pastures. So in 2004, when they heard that presidential aide Naava Nabagesera was recruiting people to work in the UK, several responded. They were requested to pay some money for transport, medical reports, visas and work permits. But when the deal failed, they took her to court.

Before Buganda Road court Chief Magistrate Margaret Tibulya, Nabagesera was charged with 12 counts of obtaining money by false pretence. Prosecution, led by John Bosco Mudde, said many people paid but none of them got jobs or even went to the UK.

WITNESSES

Annet Kiconco testified that she paid sh1.1m. She said Nabagesera told her the first group would go in September 2004. When she missed the opportunity, Nabagesera promised that she would go in December. Still she did not go.

Kiconco said by July 2005, she had realised that it was a scam and reported to the Police in December. Kiconco testified that when she went to her office at State House Nabagesera was rude to her, saying malicious people had failed the programme.
Another witness, Elly Asingwire, said he gave Nabagesera sh270,000, for registration, a work permit, hotel reservations and signing a contract with Farida Mayanja, who was to connect them to Global Link, a company he was supposed to work for.

Asingwire said Nabegesera told him it was a government programme and he was to leave for the UK in November 2004. In September 2005, Nabagesera sent him to M/S PJ agency. However, the officials at PJ denied having dealt with her. She could not be reached at her office at Raja Chambers in Kampala.

Another witness, Beatrice Nambuya, said Nabagesera got sh755,000 from her for application forms, a work permit and other requirements. She said she followed up the matter for a year but her money was not refunded nor did she get the job.
George Mubiru said he gave sh1.7m to Nabagesera’s secretary on her instructions. The money was for a medical report, Interpol, opening a file, assessment and postage. He kept going to her office but he would not find her. An office attendant told him that an appointment letter would be sent to him but he never received it.

Maclean Murungi told Tibulya that she paid sh355,000 for a form, hotel booking and signing a contract with one Farida Mayanja, who was to link her to Global Link Care in the UK. Nabegesera promised that she would leave in September 2004. When she did not go as promised, she reported to the Police.
Elizabeth Nakimera gave Nabegesera sh1.65m. In August 2005, Nabegesera told her they had agencies to enroll her. Nakimera said she was told to register with an agency. She suspected there was fraud and reported to the Police.
Ralph Ochan, who was the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Labour, said Nabagesera did not have powers to recruit people work abroad.
John Bwango, the OC National Fraud Squad, said he wrote to the British High Commission about the companies which Nabagesera claimed wanted workers. They said those companies did not exist.

PROSECUTION

State attorney John Mudde said there was overwhelming evidence that Nabagesera defrauded people who entrusted her with their money. He submitted that court should find Nabagesera guilty.

DEFENCE

Nabagesera denied that she obtained money by false pretence. She defended the programme, saying it was a directive from the President who mandated her to solve the unemployment problem in the country by seeking jobs abroad.

In May 2004, she said she was facilitated to go to the United Kingdom and the agenda was orderly migration. She said the President thereafter authorised her to run an externalisation of labour desk at State House.
John Matovu, who represented Nabagesera, argued that there was no evidence to prove that people paid money to his client. He, therefore, asked the court to acquit her.

JUDGEMENT

Tibulya said: “It was Nabagesera’s evidence that Police recovered over 100 travellers’ cheques. If these cheques were supposed to be sent to the UK as the accused claim, one wonders why the Police found them with her long after it had become clear that the programme had failed.

The only conclusion is that the cheques were part of the scheme to hoodwink the complaints”.
Tibulya noted that the requirement for the Police certificate, medical reports and LC letters were meant to paint a picture of authenticity.

Tibulya said she was satisfied that Nabagesera obtained money by false pretence and convicted her on nine counts. She, however, acquitted her of 25 counts, saying prosecution failed to prove their case on those charges. Dishonesty by public officers is as bad as it is immoral. It entails abusing trust that would have been placed in the concerned officer, and unfairly taking advantage of the unsuspecting and desperate members of the public who in most cases are illiterate. This court therefore takes a very serious view of the offences the accused has been convicted of,” Tibulya said.

Tibulya ordered her to pay sh15.2m as compensation to the 12 victims who had paid her money after she promised to get them jobs abroad.

She appealed in High court and Justice Edmund Lugayizi acquitted her, saying there was no incriminating evidence to prove that she obtained money by false pretence.

But the DPP has appealed against her acquittal and the appeal is yet to be heard.

WHO IS NAAVA NABAGESERA?
Naava Nabagesera became a public figure in 1994, when she took on Margaret Zziwa to represent Kampala women in the Constituent Assembly (CA). Zziwa beat her and she went back to practice law.

In 1996, Nabagesera bounced back to politics, contesting for the Kampala Woman Member of Parliament. Again, she lost to Zziwa. This time she did not take it lying down. She petitioned the High Court and won the petition.

Zziwa appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned the High Court decision. The Supreme Court also ordered Nabagesera to pay costs to Zziwa.

Nabagesera had married Nasser Ntege Sebaggala, who had marshaled massive support to win the Kampala mayoral campaigns, much to the embarrassment of those who had campaigned against him on grounds that he was semi-illiterate. He beat Christopher Yiga, the then mayor.

Sebaggala unveiled his marriage to Nabagesera soon after he became the mayor. But months later, he was arrested and jailed in the US over bank fraud.

Nabagesera, who had travelled with him, returned and got a job in State House.

She was appointed the Resident District Commissioner for Bugiri and later Kayunga district. After a short while, she was appointed presidential advisor on legal affairs, a position she held until the case against her came up.

Naava charged with fraud aces fraud charged with fraud

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