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Katosi Scam: Prosecution fails to re-examine witness

By Michael Odeng

Added 15th May 2017 06:09 PM

IGG halted the contract between Eutaw and Uganda National Roads Authority and awarded it to SBI

Katosi Scam: Prosecution fails to re-examine witness

IGG halted the contract between Eutaw and Uganda National Roads Authority and awarded it to SBI

Drama played out in court when prosecution failed to re-examine their own witness in a case in which former Works Minister Abraham Byandala and six others are accused of embezzling sh24.7b from government.

The money was meant for the upgrade of Mukono-Katosi Road from gravel to bitumen standard.

This prompted the Anti-Corruption Court presided over by Judge Lawrence Gidudu to adjourn the case for 30 minutes to give prosecution time to re-organise themselves but all in vain.

According to the Judge, prosecution tried to get the opinion of the witness, IGG's investigating officer Lisa Mwagale, instead of re-examining her relying on the evidence that was adduced by the defence team during cross-examination.

"I do not allow witnesses to give opinions in this matter. I will do it following submissions from both parties," Gidudu ruled.

Court also heard that the Inspectorate of Government awarded SBI International Holdings AG and Reynolds Construction Company the Katosi contract at sh254b, inclusive of applicable taxes.

She disclosed that the IGG halted the contract between Eutaw and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and awarded it to SBI on January 12, 2015. The contract was for a duration of 911 days.

When asked by IGG prosecutor, Brenda Kimbugwe, to explain whether IGG caused financial loss to government, as alleged by the defence when it awarded the contract to SBI at the said amount to the previous sh165b to Eutaw, she said the hike in price was due to the change in the dollar rate.

Court documents further indicate that SBI was required to submit a performance security in form of ‘unconditional bank guarantee' which amounts to 40 percent of the contract price to UNRA within 28 days. According to sources, the road is nearing completion.

Others charged with Byandala include Berunado Kimeze Ssebbugga, 54, Joe Ssemugooma, Wilberforce Senjako, all former senior UNRA managers, city businessman Apollo Senkeeto and Isaac Mugote, a former Housing Finance Bank official.

The accused are battling 24 counts of abuse of office, disobedience of lawful orders, influence peddling, causing financial loss, corruption, theft, obtaining money by false pretence and uttering false documents.

Sarah Birungi, the director of legal affairs from Inspectorate of Government revealed that the state is to fly in a witness from Eutaw Construction Company in America to testify against the accused.

"I had already prepared my submission for ‘no case to answer' thinking this is the last witness," Byandala's lawyer Nsubuga Mubiru said.

When asked about the details of the witness by lawyer Ivan Engoru, she declined to disclose it, saying it is for security purposes.

According to the charge sheet, Byandala is alleged to have influenced the procurement process that led to the award of tender to Eutaw.

Prosecution alleges that Senkeeto uttered a false KCB bank bid guarantee for sh1.9b in support of a bid for procurement of the road upgrade.

Senkeeto allegedly obtained execution of performance bond of sh16.5b from Insurance Company of East Africa and UAP by misrepresenting to them that it was guaranteeing a pending payment for the road.

Meanwhile, UNRA officials were accused by the IGG for effecting payment of sh24.7b to Eutaw without establishing its authenticity.

The case was adjourned to May 30 for further hearing.

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