The Anti-corruption Court judge, Lawrence Gidudu on Monday convicted two people on charges of abuse of office, causing financial loss, embezzlement and theft of over sh32m.
The High Court on Monday delivered the judgement on former administrative officer alias town clerk, Mwajuma Nalubega Sansa of the then created Bweyale Town Council, in the new Kiryandogo district in July 2010.
Nalubega is accused of causing financial loss, embezzlement and theft of millions of money that was meant to put physical infrastructure for the newly put town council.
The judgement was delivered by justice Lawrence Gidudu of the Anti-Corruption Court at Kololo, a Kampala suburb.
Nalubaga is jointly charged with former Treasurer/ Mukisa Kasaija alias Tegrass who was the finance officer of the council.
The Inspector General of Government (IGG) states that, Nalubega and Mukisa bought two pieces of land one at Agobe Central Division, and the other at Kichwabugwa cell at 32m and 28m respectively without any public procurement done.
It was also found that there was no valuation by the Government valuer to determine the market price and investigations revealed that the prices were inflated causing the two respondents to charges of abuse of office, causing financial loss and embezzlement.
Reports showed that the correspondents used proxies such as Asaba Christine (who didn’t testify in court) to buy land cheaply in their names which they ‘sold’ to the Town Council at a high price.
Prosecution also contends that the two respondents stole sh12,549,349 on basis that the payment voucher for this money was made in the names of Otim Robert who denied receiving the money.
“It is on this view that it can only mean that the respondents stole this money and falsified accountability in the above names.” said State Attorney,Thomas Okoth.
In response, the learned counsel for the respondents dismissed the claim of stealing sh12,549,349 reasoning that the Auditor General in his report for the year ending June 30 2011 did not capture this as having been stolen.
“Upon perusing the record, reviewing the evidence and scrutinising the exhibits on the file, I have come to the conclusion that the respondents are guilty on the charges of abuse of office, Mukisa is guilty on the charge of embezzlement.” said Hon Justice Lawrence Gidudu.
He added that there was no evidence to prove the charges of causing financial loss to the town council.
The Judge said he consequently found the two guilty of abuse of office and convicted each of them accordingly.
The convicts request for non-custodial sentence
When asked by the Judge whether they had what to say, Nalubega told court that she never intended to commit the crime.
“Am 40 years old and a single mother of two children I have to look after plus my mum an old woman both in the village.”
It’s for the above reasons that the respondent requested for a lenient sentence saying that she has never been prosecuted in any criminal offence.
Mukisa told court that he was 53 years old, had a kidney complication, a family of 12 children and a 75 year-old mum who needs his support.
Reasons for the sentence
The charge said that the convicts were first offenders with no previous records who were aged 40 and 50 years respectively.
“I have listened to both council and the convicts, although the convicts committed these crimes, it also comes out clearly that they were mistreated when deleted off the pay roll,” said Gidudu.
He added that public officers facing criminal charges are supposed to be put on half pay but not to be deleted from the pay roll.
The Judge was also mindful that although they committed the said crimes, they also delivered on procurements.
“These procurements have since appreciated in value with passage of time, they are more mitigating factors than aggravating factors.” He added.
The judge also disqualified convicts from holding any public office for a period of 10 years unless the matter of appeal was addressed.
But they were free to access private service providers.
Taking into account that the respondents had been effectively punished by withdrawing their salaries for over 6 years, and considering that the amounts that were inflated are relatively smaller than those who out rightly steal public resources.
“I am inclined to imposing a non-custodial sentence.” Adding that the convicts had already been on punishment in one way or the other by what he considered as the malicious actions of their complainant.
“I therefore sentence each of the respondents to a fine of sh1m each, in default each of the respondents will suffer one years imprisonment,” said the Judge
Mukisa was also told to pay a fine of sh3m.