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Court in Mbarara has granted bail to three youth activists, who, early this month staged a mock funeral for President Yoweri Museveni.
 
The suspects; 20-year-old Albert Nangumya, a student at Bishop Stuart University, Rodgers Asiimwe, 26, and 32-year-old Maxi Muhumuza, the spokesperson of the defunct Ankole kingdom were released by Mbarara Grade One Magistrate Sanyu Mukasa.
 
They were each bonded at Shs 1.5 million cash while their sureties were bonded at Shs 1 million non-cash. The hearing of the case will resume next month on August 11.

While appearing before court on July 20, the suspects applied for bail through their lawyer, Wilson Agaba of Agaba and Company Advocates, saying it was their constitutional right.

However, the magistrate deferred the bail application hearing to today and sent them back to Kyamugoranyi government prison.
 
Today, the suspects were back in court for their bail application hearing. Rodgers Asiimwe presented three sureties including his father, Gershom Mugisha. Others were Abias Niwamanya, and Mike Ayesigye, a pastor based in Mbarara.
 
Prosecution told court that on July 6, 2017, while in Mbarara district, the suspects led a procession with a coffin with an inscription "Rest in Peace Museveni," together with the portrait of President Museveni, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, General Kahinda Otafiire and several Members of Parliament.
 
The suspects took to the streets to protest against attempts by government to amend Article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution, which puts a ceiling on the age of the person holding the office of the president at 75 years.
 
The protest came at the backdrop of reports that a section of National Resistance Movement (NRM) party members has mooted a plan to amend the constitution to allow President Museveni to contest for the presidency in 2021.
 
Under the current provision in Article 102(b), President Museveni would be above 75 years and therefore ineligible to contest for the seat. Born in 1944 and in power since 1986, Museveni will be clocking 77 in 2021.
3 weeks 1 day ago

Gen Kale Kayihura, the inspector general of police has suspended four senior police officers accused of mismanaging a case involved in the demolish of a building in Jinja. 

The officers; Julius Twinomujuni from the directorate of Human rights and Legal Affairs, Edgar Nyabongo, the Kidepo region police commander, Apollo Kateeba, Rwenzori regional police commander and Kumi district police commander, Felix Mugizi.

IGP Kale Kayihura

The suspension of the four officers is in relation to their role in the dispute over a building on Plot 60/62 along Alidina Visram road in Jinja town that was belonging to government until 2014. 

Trouble for the officers started after the former occupants of the building appeared before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led Land Commission and accused the officers of siding with Simpson Birungi, the proprietor of Movit limited to illegally evict them and demolish the building.

On Tuesday, Kayihura appeared before the Land Commission to testify on the matter following a complaint received by the Commission from the former occupants of the buildings. During the meeting, Justice Bamugemereire asked Kayihura whether he was aware of the eviction. 

Kayihura confirmed that police was part of the eviction, but hastened to add that he assigned his deputy to follow up the matter, since he was engaged in tracking the people behind the murder of Muslim clerics.

During the meeting, Bamugemereire asked Kayihura to act on the implicated officers, saying she would be happy to hear what action the IGP had taken within two weeks.

In his response, Kayihura said there was no need to act in two weeks, saying he would act immediately. He also told Bamugemereire that he had moved with a team of CID officers who could team up with police to investigate the matter.
  
Now, Kayihura has suspended the implicated officers and ordered immediate investigations into the accusations leveled against them.

"The following officers are suspended from duty with immediate effect pending findings of the commission of inquiry in land management and the investigation instituted by IGP under the supervision of DIGP regarding the mismanagement of court process involving court process in Jinja," reads the message in part.

While testifying before the Commission on Tuesday, Julius Twinomujuni, said he advised against the eviction, but the late Kaweesi told him to get to work and stop arguments.

Twinimujuni was faulted for his communication to the Kiira regional police commander that was subject to misinterpretation leading to the eviction.

Although he regretted the incident, Twinomujuni said he didn't want to defy orders from Kaweesi, who the then Director of Operations.

3 weeks 1 day ago

Mr Caleb Mwesigwa, one of the lawyers of jailed Ruhinda County MP Rtd Captain Donozio Kahonda has described fresh charges against his client as politically engineered.

Mr Kahonda, a political rival of Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire was on Friday picked from Kirinya Prison and produced before the Luweero Chief Magistrate Charles Sserubuga and charged with two fresh counts of forgery and uttering false documents.

Prosecution alleges that Kahonda forged an Ordinary level (O-level) and Advanced Level (A-level) Certificate of Education which were presented to Ndejje University for admission.

But Mr Mwesigwa says such charges against his client are another fishing expedition to ensure that Kahonda is swept of the political scene and kept in detention.
The lawyer questioned the urgency that caused his client’s immediate presentation before court in Luweero even when he was receiving medication for pneumonia and malaria. He however, claims that the rush was in anticipation that the Jinja High Court could grant him bail.

Kahonda is supposed to be produced before the Luweero Chief Magistrate Court today (Tuesday) for yet another bail application hearing in relation to the new charges.
Kahonda, a retired Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) captain, was in a June 7 judgment found guilty of 11 counts of impersonation, forgery and uttering false documents by the Jinja Chief Magistrates Court and was immediately sent to Kirinya Prison.

The charges that informed the judgment against the legislator stemmed from allegations that he uttered a Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) to Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) and pretended to be Mutabazi Levan Dickson whereas not.

Kahonda was also accused of having forged a medical report on UPDF entry form at the Military Academy in Jinja in the name of Mutabazi Levan Dickson and purported that the same document was genuine whereas not.

The embattled MP appeared before the Jinja High Court Judge Eva Luswata on Monday for a hearing of his bail application in this matter pending appeal of the judgment. The matter was deferred to Thursday.

3 weeks 3 days ago

PARLIAMENT: The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen (rtd) Kahinda Otafiire and Ms Betty Amongi of Lands, Housing and Urban Development are expected to defend the quest for Constitutional amendment.

Government wants Parliament to amend Article 26 of the Constitution, to create room for compulsory acquisition of land, by both the central and local government.
According to a memo from the Office of the Clerk, the two will appear before the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs which is handling the bill.

The Committee Chairperson Jacob Oboth-Oboth has since intimated to this reporter that the meeting will among others seek a detailed interface with the ministers before seeking public views.
The bill seeks “to empower Government or a local Government to take possession of the property upon depositing the compensation awarded for the property with court, pending determination by the court of the disputed compensation amount; [and] to give the owner of property or person having any interest in or right over the property the right to access the deposited compensation awarded at any time during the dispute resolution process.”

It also seeks to “empower Parliament to prescribe the time within which disputes arising from the process of compulsory land acquisition shall be determined,” during the dispute resolution process.
Government says the main objective of the bill is to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of its infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process.

The problem of delays, according to a government statement, has caused significant financial loss amounting to millions of dollars in penalties paid to contractors for redundant machinery at construction or project sites as the courts attempt to resolve the disputes, most of which relate to quantum of compensation.
The committee starts its work today and it has 45 days within which to report to parliament.

3 weeks 3 days ago

Even before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee begins scrutinizing the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 on land, many MPs across the political divide are united in their opposition to the draft legislation.

When Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana tabled the draft legislation before the House two weeks ago, he received a rather rude reception from both NRM and opposition MPs.

A number of legislators who spoke to The Observer believe the resistance exhibited when the bill was tabled should be a hint to government about the battle on its hands.

The contentious bill seeks to amend Article 26 of the Constitution to allow government to take compulsory possession of private land to build infrastructure and investment projects without being bogged down by compensation disputes.

If enacted, the law will enable the central government or local governments to deposit in court compensation awarded for any property required for public works, and immediately take possession.

MPs in parliament

The government has been at pains to explain that a new law has been necessitated by individuals who delay public projects such as the Kampala Northern Bypass and Entebbe Expressway by disputing the compensation offered by the government valuer.

However, if the NRM leadership expected to ride on the superior numbers the party enjoys in parliament to get it passed, it might be in for a surprise, as many ruling party legislators are showing signs of defiance.

Many NRM MPs have openly stated that they have no problem voting for the age limit amendment but would not dare express support for the land amendment.

Indeed, in many constituencies held by NRM legislators, it might not be politically suicidal for an MP to vote for an amendment that keeps Museveni in power beyond 2021, but it might spell the end of one’s political career to be seen to support tinkering with people’s land rights.

Land is an emotive and highly politicised matter, and the fact that this proposed law has been framed as government taking away people’s land by force doesn’t help matters.

The Land Act of 1998, and the amendment to it in 2009, were both protracted moves, which even if the government got its way in the end, cost NRM some support in Buganda. 

This is likely to rekindle those fights that at their height led to the kidnapping by state agents of Buganda Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga and former Mengo officials Medard Lubega Sseggona and Betty Nambooze.  The land contestation also led to the 2009 Buganda riots in which dozens died. 

This particular bill puts NRM in an awkward position as, coming around the same time as the age limit amendment plot, it risks bringing together NRM and opposition MPs to fight for a common cause.

It is believed that this is what the executive was trying to avoid by bringing the land bill separately, well aware that it’s about to embark on other constitutional amendments.  

THEIR SAY

Although the bill still has several steps to go before coming up for a vote, we have sampled MPs’ views on it as it stands now. Sam Byibesho (Kisoro municipality) said the government must tread carefully, cautioning that it might face it rough in instances where it fails to pay compensation in time.

Annet Nyakecho (Tororo North), an NRM-leaning Independent, said there are more important priorities other than the land amendment, which need to be tackled, including the poor performance of the economy.

Patrick Isiagi (Kachumbala) said whatever decision is made on the bill should be made by the citizens of Uganda, and not parliament. Bernard Atiku (Ayivu) said  the current land laws protect the owners’ interests and amending the constitution puts these ownership rights into jeopardy.

Vincent Wobwoya (Budadiri East) said the bill was brought in good faith, explaining that many infrastructure projects have stalled yet they were intended for the public good.

He advised that adequate compensation and due diligence must be conducted first before government takes over the land. His sentiments were shared by Robert Kasolo (Iki-Iki) who says the amendments have been misinterpreted by many politicians, yet they are meant to support government projects.

“If we are to foster development in this country, the land matter must be handled and these changes made to the Constitution and the Land Act,” Kasolo noted.

On his part, Simon Lokodo (Dodoth) opines that some members of the public have been exploiting government through stalling projects in the hope of getting more in compensation.

“First priority should be to public interest, not individuals because they will be compensated. A project should not stall because an individual wants to get more money,” Lokodo said.

However, Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala) disagrees, noting that in the 2017/2018 financial year budget, about Shs 2.8 trillion is allocated for compensation that government failed to pay over the years.

“If under the current law government has been failing to compensate Ugandans for their properties, how about when the law is changed to allow government to compulsorily take our land? When you look at the current provision, it allows government to take possession of private land for security but Museveni’s problem is on prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, which he wants amended,” Kivumbi said.

Ssemujju Nganda (Kira municipality) said Rukutana, who tabled the controversial bill, could be the first casualty of the law if passed, revealing that the deputy attorney general is fighting with government over his property, Millennium Chambers along Entebbe road, that stands in the way of the road’s expansion.

“On one hand he is fighting to save his [building] and on another, he wants government to forcefully take over other Ugandans’ land. I think the masses need to raise an alarm whenever they see some of these government officials moving about,” Ssemujju said.

William Nzoghu (Busongora North) said: “After stealing what belonged to cooperative unions, Museveni is now targeting our land. What is his problem? He wants to turn us into beggars in our own country. If he wants to donate any land to the government, he should go to his farms in Rwakitura and Kisozi”.

Atkins Katusabe (Bukonzo West) said he will stand up among the legislators who will block the bill. He said while government has literally failed in all aspects, the only aspect that people still hold dear is land.

Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo municipality) told The Observer that despite the financial challenges, government shoots itself in the foot when it tables amendments targeting land matters when a commission of inquiry on land is also trying to find solutions to a range of land wrangles in the country.

After the bill was tabled, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga referred it to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee for further scrutiny.

The committee is expected to listen to submissions by government on Tuesday (tomorrow). A source within the committee revealed that the legislators have mooted a proposal to hold regional hearings on the bill.

“While we want to traverse the country seeking views on the bill, we have agreed that we split ourselves into groups and travel to the different regions,” the legislator said.

Name

Constituency

Political party

Position

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda

Kira Municipality

FDC

No

Moureen Osoru

Arua Woman

NRM

No

James Kakooza

Kabula

Independent

No

Robinah Rwakoojo

Gomba East

NRM

Yes

Silas Aogon

Kumi Municipality

Independent

No

Joshua Anywarach

Padyere

Independent

No

Franca Akello

Agago Woman)

FDC

No

Matthias Mpuuga

Masaka Municipality

DP

No

Gilbert Olanya

Kilak South

FDC

No

Sam Byibesho

Kisoro Municipality

NRM

No

Vincent Wobwoya

Budadiri East

NRM

Yes

Atkins Katusabe

Bukonzo West

FDC

No

Annet Nyakecho

Tororo North

Independent

No

Patrick Isiagi

Kachumbala

NRM

No

Robert Kasolo

Iki-Iki

NRM

Yes

Gerald Karuhanga

Ntungamo municipality

Independent

No

Kato Lubwama

Rubaga South

Independent

No

Bernard Atiku

Ayivu

Independent

No

Lyandro Komakech

Gulu Municipality

DP

No

Simon Lokodo

Dodoth

NRM

Yes

Santa Alum

Oyam Woman

UPC

No

William Nzoghu

Busongora North

FDC

No

Emmanuel Kigozi Ssempala

Makindye Ssaabagabo Municipality

DP

No

Moses Kasibante

Rubaga North

Independent

No

Charles Angiro Gutmoi

Erute North

FDC

No

Muwanga Kivumbi

Butambala

DP

No

Joseph Ssewungu

Kalungu West

DP

No

Winfred Kiiza

Kasese Woman

FDC

No

Francis Zzake

Mityana Municipality

Independent

No

Allan Ssewanyana

Makindye West

DP

No

Florence Namayanja

Bukoto East

DP

No

Mary Babirye Kabanda

Masaka Woman

DP

No

Betty Nambooze

Mukono Municipality

DP

No

Veronica Nanyondo

Bukomansimbi Woman

DP

No

Solomon Silywanyi

Bukooli Central

NRM

No

Muhammad Nsereko

Kampala Central

Independent

No

Wilfred Niwagaba

Ndorwa East

Independent

No

3 weeks 3 days ago

Uganda police has bought escort vehicles for all its directors almost six months after Andrew Felix Kaweesi, a director himself, was publicly gunned down in the company of only one bodyguard and driver.

Kaweesi, a former police spokesman and director of Human Resource, was killed on March 17 on his way from home in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb. He was riding in a police Land Cruiser.

Kaweesi was killed in March this year

Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye confirmed police has bought the escort vehicles but could not disclose the number or the amount spent on them. He told The Observer in a weekend interview that: “We passed a policy in the Police Council that every director should have an escort car to beef up their security.”

There are about 21 directors in the force. A source in the force said the institution had spent about Shs 6bn on buying escort cars for all police directors to beef up their security. This newspaper could not independently verify that figure. Kasingye said he “didn’t know the cost” and sent us to the director of logistics for the cost. We could not reach the director by press time.

A high-ranking police officer told The Observer they “had found out that one escort and a driver was not enough for the security of a director [in police].”

The source further intimated to us that after the death of Kaweesi, the police council met and decided that every police director must have an escort car.

“Every director will be escorted by a police patrol with eight counter terrorism officers, four on each side of the car,” said the officer.

“The death of Kaweesi was a lesson to us and we cannot allow another director to die Kaweesi style. We must ensure that their security is tight,” said another senior officer.

We have been told that the cars are currently parked at the Inspector of Vehicles ( IOV) offices in Naguru as they fix back seats.

“We already have the cars with us and we fin- ished testing them and we are now fixing back seats and within one week we shall be done,” said a source at IOV in Naguru.

The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, is expected to officially hand over the vehicles to the directors soon.

3 weeks 3 days ago

Judicial officers at the weekend overwhelmingly resolved to strike and keep away from courts if government does not address their grievances on welfare and salaries within one month.
The judicial officers met at Kampala High Court premises last Saturday and 185 of them voted in support of industrial action while one was opposed to it. The voting was by secret ballot.

Mr Godfrey Kaweesa, the president of Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA), which unites all judicial officers in the country, shortly after the voting, said he would today serve the relevant government authorities the 30-day notice.
Mr Kaweesa said the notice to government starts today and ends on August 23.
He warned that should there be no tangible progress by August 23, the strike will start and all the members will stay away from courts.

Prior to the vote for industrial action, the judicial officers held a heated discussion where they poured out their frustration over poor salaries.
The more than 400 judicial officers want government to increase their salaries to match the earnings of their counterparts in other government departments and agencies, provide them official vehicles, medical insurance, housing and security to those who don’t have.
The minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire attended the heated discussion of the judicial officers.

Gen Otafiire had earlier met raging hostility from LC5 chairpersons who chased him from Namboole Stadium where they had convened over similar grievances of poor remuneration.
The minister laboured to dissuade the charged judicial officers from a strike and asked them to give him three months to address their welfare issues. He said there are competing national priorities such as construction of power dams and roads.

This comes barely a week after government wooed back State prosecutors who had gone on a strike over welfare issues. Government promised to handle their issues within three months.
Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, in the contentious debate, blamed the judicial officers’ low pay on technocrats in the Finance ministry.
“This is ejoogo, (disrespect) by the Finance ministry officials not to implement President Museveni’s directive to have our welfare enhanced,” Justice Bamwine said sparking cheers from the judicial officers.

“It’s these technocrats in the Finance ministry who have disobeyed the President’s directive. Do they want him to pronounce himself again? No, this is untenable,” Justice Bamwine further stated.
Under the current judiciary salary structure, Grade Two Magistrate earns Shs737, 837 a month, Senior Grade Two Magistrate (Shs860, 810), Principal Magistrate Grade Two (Shs1.2m), Magistrate Grade One (Shs1.5m) and Principal Magistrate Grade One (Shs2.1m).
Senior Principal Magistrate Grade One gets Shs2.2m, Chief Magistrate (Shs2.4m), Assistant Registrar earns Shs3.1m and Chief Registrar earns Shs4.8m.

Those on a higher bench such as the Chief Justice earns Shs20m, his deputy Shs18m and Principal Judge (Shs10m) while a Supreme Court judge earns Shs9.6m) and a judge of Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court gets Shs9.3m) with a High Court judge receiving Shs9m.

In the proposed new salary structure by the judicial officers, they want the highest ranking officer (Chief Justice) to earn Shs55m per month and the lowest ranking judicial officer (Grade Two magistrate) Shs11m.
In the Saturday meeting, Soroti chief magistrate Ms Ruth Nabasa said for more than 10 years, she has worked in the Judiciary, they have been reading from the book of “Lamentations” and that it’s time to read from the book of “Acts.”

She evoked a Biblical allusion which implied that the judicial officers have been complaining about low pay for too long and it’s time they took action--strike. “It’s very unfortunate for you to fight for the rights of others yet you cannot fight for your own rights. We are judicial officers, we work in terrible conditions; at 3am we are on the road and what do we get at the end of the month? A lousy pay cheque,” Chief Magistrate Nabasa said in an emotional submission.

She further lamented amid ululations from her colleagues: “A pay cheque that cannot cater for you if got sick or even to pay for your children’s school fees! We have put in service 13 years and for all the years I have been in practice, the pay cheque is Shs2.8m. Honourable minister, we have read from the book of Lamentations for so long, we are now reading from the book of Acts of the Apostles,” she told Gen Otafiire who looked more disturbed than shocked.
“I think it’s time for us to claim our right position as an arm of government. We need to be treated with dignity. When you are sleeping next to a brewery like I do, you have no audacity to question those thugs even when they make passes at me, because to them, we are equal. If I was any better than them, I would be residing in premises befitting a judicial officer,” Ms Nabasa lamented.

In a brief response to her submission, Mr Otafiire said she was preaching to the ‘converted’.
The minister said he is aware of the depilated courts from which they work. He said he would love to improve their conditions and that he was negotiating with government.
Another magistrate from Abim court Mr Elisha Arinaitwe said he lacks an official car and last Friday as he travelled from duty to Kampala for their general assembly, he travelled by public means and sat next to a person he had convicted. He said he was ‘scared’ of his life.

“You should have seen the way he was looking at me,” Magistrate Arinaitwe said.
Masaka resident judge John Eudes Keitirima said: “We have been taken for granted, if the government can’t give us a timeline in which to address our issues, then we shall give them the timeline.”
Justice Keitirima’s remark was prompted by lack of a definite answer from the Justice minister about their biting grievances.

3 weeks 4 days ago

“At the time, people thought at 75, a person is frail, his mind is no longer robust and he shouldn’t lead a nation. My argument was that there are always exceptions; one could be 80 and his brain is more robust than that of a 35-year-old. There are so many examples where people have ruled up to 102, 110 and when you talk to them, you really find that they are still alert. Secondly, a person could have extraordinary qualities of a leader even in old age and is beneficial to the country. Given the fact that some times our country is failed because of poor leadership, and when you have a good person, then you say he should be disqualified because of age does not make sense. As long as there is democracy, if a person is so frail and even the voters see that he cannot manage the duties of state, they vote him out. When I was minister of State for Labour, the elderly had brought a petition to say that that article is discriminatory against them. In CA, my reasoning was that even the lower age, I argued that even the minimum age of 35 should not be there as long as the person is an adult, he should be qualified. The electorate should be able to decide.”

Miria Matembe, former Ethics minister

“When we were going around collecting views, people expressed the desire on the qualification of the President and they said that he should be mature enough to be a leader and then should also have a limit beyond which he cannot continue. They brought those views among the views from the people and then we placed them there; when you have the minimum age, let us also have the maximum age. I have heard people argue that it is discriminatory to put the age limit at 35 and then 75, when you read that article, which they say makes age limits discriminatory, you will find that it says anything brought in other proposals in this Constitution will not be discriminatory. You know, there is also what you call retirement age, you know people are putting retirement age for judges and public servants and, therefore, retirement age for President.”

Charles Rwomushana, social critic

“You know I have a recollection of that debate. But it was largely to prevent Obote; they were scared of Obote, they feared that he would come back and contest. On the lower age of 35, I think there was also fear of youth groups and it was around the same time that they created positions for the youth and women. I think by then, I was one of the youthful delegates. There were leaders who ascended to power at that time and, therefore, the view that there could be a youth movement that had to be tamed.”

Prof Frederick Ssempebwa, lawyer

“It is not isolated, it was part and parcel of a compost that is to ensure that the powers of the President are checked and in drafting the Constitution, we put in a lot of checks and balances and that the President would not do this or that without approval (of Parliament). Then it came to how old should the President be, under the Odoki commission, we debated it and said we should have a limit, we shouldn’t be like other countries such as the US where they have no limit in age because our systems are different and people over the time they reach the age of 60 and they are tired.”

Augustine Ruzindana, former IGG

“I think the historical aspect is not relevant, the relevancy is now; at that time, there were other voices that didn’t see the reason of age and held that it is the fundamental rights of the individual to participate. But currently, there is the factor of the age group of this country; this is a country of majorly young people and even in the CA, majority were young people. How has it suddenly become discriminatory and whom does it discriminate against? Who is complaining about discrimination? Even the 30 for LCs or indeed the 18 years voting age is discriminatory; why wouldn’t a 16-year-old vote? The issue now is that there is a particular individual affected, there is no principle involved.”

Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, FDC party president

“Largely, it was because of the recognition of a fact that our history has been turbulent and the turbulence was rooted in the abuse of power by leaders. So there was a focus on how we could put a safety valve in the Constitution. Ours was a country which was still grappling with the politics of leaders who are selfish, short sighted, who tend to abuse power, and, therefore, we knew it is the laws that would be embedded in the Constitution so that leaders could not abuse power. That is why the term limits were put in and the age limit. When we were doing that, we never even imagined that there would be a possibility of anybody attempting to change it.”

Absolom Bwanika Bbaale, Luweero FDC chairperson

“There were no submissions on the memorandum received, we did not get the memorandum about the upper age limit. Nobody proposed the upper age limit, what they proposed was term limits because this upper limit thing came after we had approved the term limits. Then by calculation, Museveni knew that Obote would by the time he completes his two years, have passed 75 years, so that article was put in very bad faith to lock out Obote, nobody else. That was introduced by the Movement to lock out the possibility of Obote coming back. It went through the caucus so when it came through the floor, everybody was in support, but it was done in bad faith.”

Wandera Ogalo, lawyer

“My recollection is that it really wasn’t a big issue; it was based on the fact that if somebody is going to come in at the age of say 74, and he is going to run for 10 years, then he will be in office at 84. This is a very difficult office which requires a lot of attention and at that age, somebody may not be strong enough to manage the affairs of the country because you need somebody whose faculties are strong. It was just a consensus, we agreed not to entrust the affairs of the country to someone who is frail and tired.”

Cecilia Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP

“Situations were already clear that the proper management of the State had become rather difficult for President Museveni. There was war continuing in the north, poverty had deepened, the currency had lost value; the politics of the country had become very chaotic and there was a lot of segregation of some section of Ugandans. That was bound to be a recipe for the acceptance of [former president] Obote, whose government was tested. Apart from what Ugandans felt was his failure to manage the military, in the management of the State, he was generally good.

There was the agenda to put the age limit in the Constitution and at that time, Obote was advanced in age and they wanted to block him.”

3 weeks 4 days ago

Sudhir Ruparelia’s lawyers have filed an application in the Commercial court demanding that Bank of Uganda provides proof that the businessman stole Shs 300bn from Crane bank.

The application, filed on July 21, comes a day after the central bank’s legal team served Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), Ruparelia’s lawyers, with court summons to respond to BoU’s case on July 20.

In the application, KAA lawyers claim that BoU’s case is full of “narratives” and “conjectures” devoid of any specifics, which are needed for them to come up with a reasonable defence.

According to the lawyers, the plaint and court summons don’t have key annexures, which spell out the case against Ruparelia. In their three-page application, KAA lawyers say they want a total of 26 documents from BoU in order for them to come up with a robust defence.

Sudhir Ruparelia

KAA also want the forensic report written by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which audited Crane bank when BoU took over its operations last year.

The forensic report, according to Bank Uganda, showed how Ruparelia operated phony bank accounts within Crane bank, purposely to conceal what it called fraudulent transactions and Crane bank’s real financials from the central bank.

Ruparelia’s representatives argue that Bank of Uganda must disclose the report in order for them to verify if indeed those were the findings.

In its suit, the central bank claimed that more than Shs 8.2bn was taken out of Crane bank on December 27, 2014 disguised as credit facilities to Infinity Investments Limited and eventually written off as a bad debt under Ruparelia’s instructions. Infinity Investments Limited is allegedly owned by Ruparelia.

Now KAA wants Bank of Uganda to disclose documents that show that indeed their client owns Infinity Investments, and further present the minutes or communication in which he directed the company’s bad debts to be written off.

Though in its plaint Bank of Uganda says that upon taking over Crane Bank last year they were shocked to find that Ruparelia was the sole owner of the defunct bank with personal control over its day-to-day operations, the businessman’s lawyers are demanding for details to prove that charge.

KAA lawyers want to see documents showing explicitly how Ruparelia owned Crane bank alone and how he used to run it on his personal whim as claimed in the suit.

For instance, they want e-mails or any other written communication which show Ruparelia giving instructions to Crane bank staff.

In addition, the lawyers want specifics on the accusation that Ruparelia personally never remitted Shs 52 billion to NSSF despite deducting the sum from Crane bank workers.

The specifics, according to the application, should show NSSF’s monthly schedule, the monthly payroll [of Crane bank] and also other documents indicating who took the NSSF money.

On the alleged transfer of freehold titles of 48 plots of land (branches), purchased and developed using Crane bank’s finances, into the name of Meera Investments, only to be leased back to Crane bank at high cost, the lawyers are, again, asking for evidence.

They want Bank of Uganda to show them all the 48 sale agreements to confirm that indeed Crane bank bought the titles. In the main case to be heard by Justice David Wangutusi, Bank of Uganda is seeking to recover $93.8 million (Shs 337.6bn) and Shs 60.3bn from the former Crane bank proprietor and his real estate company Meera Investments respectively.

Asked to comment on this development, Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi of MMAKS Advocates, Bank of Uganda’s lawyers, described the application as “baseless”, adding that they would formally respond to it next week.

3 weeks 4 days ago

Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, faced a torrid time on Saturday morning when he tried to deliver President Museveni’s message to local government leaders gathered at Namboole stadium.

Instead of listening to him, the leaders who had expected to see President Museveni himself, shouted the minister down and poured water on him as he left the venue.

The leaders, numbering more than 1,000 had assembled at the national stadium to attend a meeting organised by the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA). According to the communication inviting them, President Museveni was expected to be the chief guest. However, when Otafiire was invited by Jennifer Namuyangu, the minister of state for Local Government, to deliver the president’s message, hell broke loose.

“The fellows were rowdy and not prepared to listen to the message from the president. When they said so, I left,” Otafiire told The Observer in an interview on Saturday.

“When I realised that they didn’t want to listen to their own minister, I sensed that there was a problem and decided to leave,” he added.

Otafiire said he had gone to deliver good news from the president although he declined to reveal “the good news” to us.

“He had asked me to read it to them, not to deliver it through the media,” Otafiire said. “If he wants, he will find time and deliver it to them himself.”
Otafiire added: “I was left wondering whether it is the message from the president that they wanted or shaking his hands.”

It was only George Mutabaazi, their chairman, who was allowed to deliver a speech but he could not go beyond inviting minister of state Namuyangu whose role was to invite Otafiire to deliver Museveni’s message.

Namuyangu was not allowed to speak either, and in the ensuing scuffle, Michael Osinya, the LC-III chairman of Buswale sub-county in Namayingo district, poured water on Otafiire.

ATTACKER ARRESTED

Otafiire was perusing through the president’s speech when the protests started, with many delegates chanting, “Twagala pulezident [We want the president].”

It was at this moment that Otafiire, who had left his seat and was walking towards the exit, got entangled in a scuffle which left him drenched in water. The police promptly arrested Osinya and locked him in a police van.

Some local government leaders now turned their fury on the police, demanding the release of Osinya. One of them went over to the van and forcefully got Osinya out. Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Innocent Wanyama condemned the act in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Some local government officials doused a minister in water as a form of protest; their action should be condemned in the strongest manner possible,” Wanyama stated.

UNCLEAR INTENTIONS

While the invitation letters to the meeting indicated that its theme was “Uganda Vision 2040 and addressing middle-income  status opportunities, barriers and role of local governments”, the real intention of the meeting remained suspect.

For some days, messages had been circulating on social media, warning the ULGA leadership against allowing their meeting to be used as a platform to campaign in support of lifting the presidential age limit.

“We are getting information that a legitimate meeting of ULGA could be hijacked by fortune seekers to smuggle in a resolution for the amendment of Article 102.

“I implore you that when the history of this country is written, it should not be recorded that you yielded to manipulation to allow those fortune seekers,” one of the messages to Mutabaazi read.

Mutabaazi told journalists at Namboole that he received countless messages and phone calls from civil society activists, politicians and religious leaders over the same.

“We agreed that this was not the right forum for discussing the constitutional amendments because ULGA has membership from various political parties,” Mutabaazi said.

The NRM secretariat too, in a statement issued by its communications officer, Rogers Mulindwa, distanced itself from the ULGA meeting.

3 weeks 4 days ago

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