By Henry Mukasa
A Dubai-based businessman who said he was contracted to ferry UPDF troops for operations in Southern Sudan and Somalia has petitioned the Inspector General of Government (IGG) over non-payment of $2.3m (sh4.3b).
Sami Haroona Eisa, the director of Stream Aviation and Excel Air International, in a letter to the IGG states that the Ministry of Defence has refused to pay his fees. He also claims the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has maliciously grounded his aircrafts.
â€œMy current concerns are the high level of sabotage, frustration and intimidation. As I push for my payments from the Ministry of Defence and damages from CAA, I am being threatened with death,â€ Eisa wrote in his petition.
He requests the IGG to intervene â€œin order for sanity to prevail so that investors like me can gain confidenceâ€.
The acting IGG confirmed that his office received the petition. â€œI recollect I have a communication to that effect,â€ Raphael Baku said in a telephone interview. â€œI sent it to one of the directorates to verify the truth of the complaint.â€
MP Abdu Katuntu, the lawyer for Stream Aviation, said he had instructions to recover the money and take the matter to court if mediation fails.
â€œI have talked to the deputy Attorney General to see how that matter can be settled amicably because it is of a security nature and classified,â€ he said.
In his letter to the IGG, Eisa says his company, Stream Aviation, transported troops and other logistics for the Ministry of Defense to Southern Sudan for the operation against the LRA, which started on December 14, 2008. He says he was contracted by an American company, DynCorp.
â€œAfter completing over 30 trips in December 2008, I have not yet received the sum of $2.3m,â€ he said.
He, however, claims that $1.3 (sh2.4b) was â€œfraudulentlyâ€ released by the permanent secretary (PS) of the defence ministry to Barnabas Taremwa, a Ugandan he had entrusted with some local operations. The money, he said, was paid based on forged letters.
Eisa also accuses the PS of accepting fake vouchers bearing his signature â€œscanned from another documentâ€.
In a separate deal, Eisa wrote, his other company, Excel Air International, was contracted to fly supplies for the UPDF troops in Somalia.
He claims his planes were vandalised while parked at Entebbe International Airport and he estimates the damage at $1m (sh1.9b).
Excel Air International was reportedly instructed to operate another 10 flights to Southern Sudan in October.
He alleges that CAA refused to clear his aircraft, leaving it grounded â€œloaded with UPDF cargo to Nzaraâ€.
â€œI have lost the contract from DynCorp due to delayed clearance of my aircraft by CAA. Instead, I am being forced by CAA to work with my rival, Sam Engola (of Showa Aviation).â€
The man of Somali origin claims that over 30 men from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) broke into his residence in Entebbe in February and ransacked it. According to his letter, he was dragged to the Central Police Station in Kampala and accused of robbing a car which he says belonged to him.
â€œCurrently, all my investments are under threat, including my life and my family. Justice delayed is justice denied. I feel I have not been given a fair hearing by the Government agencies,â€ reads his letter.
UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye yesterday said the ministry never contracted the company to ferry troops to Southern Sudan or Somalia.
When told that the company subcontracted from DynCorp, he replied: â€œThen their contract is with DynCorp.â€
The PS, Rosette Byengoma, could not be reached by telephone while CAA spokesman Ignie Igundura said: â€œI donâ€™t want to comment on that group of people. We are already in court.â€