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KAMPALA. The raging high-profile commercial legal battle between property mogul, Sudhir Ruparelia, and Bank of Uganda (BoU), kicks off today in Kampala.
BoU sued Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments in July, accusing the tycoon of fleecing the then Crane Bank of Shs397b in disputed transactions, a claim the businessman denies in his countersuit filed in the High Court recently.

In Mr Ruparelia’s countersuit, the businessman accuses BoU lawyers (MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates) of conflict of interest and faults Bank of Uganda for breach of Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement (CSRA).

In the run up to the Crane Bank saga, it emerged that Mr Ruparelia and BoU authorities under Clause 7 of the CSRA had agreed not to sue each other.
Mr Ruparelia now wants a refund of $8m (Shs28.7m) and the titles on land in Industrial Area and Parliament Avenue.
Today, the head of the Commercial Court, Justice David Wangutusi, is set to hear three applications that have since arisen from the original suit lodged by BoU, including a request by BoU lawyers to be allowed to file their response to Ruparelia’s countersuit.

The applications in the BoU case are to be heard today under the pre-trial session arrangement. They include; conflict of interest of BoU lawyers of MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates.
Under this application, Mr Ruparelia says some of the lawyers in the aforementioned law firms such as Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi represented him before and David Mpanga is a potential witness in this case since his law firm participated in the coming up of PWC report that implicated him in the alleged fraud and that because of that, he should instead be a witnesses and not a lawyer on the opposite side.

Although MMARKS at the weekend disowned Mr Ruparelia, the businessman in a September 11 rejoinder attached invoices from Mr Masembe to Meera Investments and receipts from MMARKS for the payment of professional fees and stamp duty.

“Any attempt to use the knowledge they obtained to my prejudice as a result of the instructions they received is manifest breach of MMAKS Advocates’ fiduciary obligations. Mr Sembatya by purporting to reveal the extent of his instructions, moreover falsely, in order to prejudice me and even expand the allegations in the plaint is a clear violation and betrayal of my more than 12-year trust in MMAKS Advocates,” Mr Ruparelia’s rejoinder reads in part.
The BoU lawyers are expected to respond to these documents.

The other application expected to be heard today is that of extension of time as requested by BoU in connection with late response to the counter suit lodged against them by Mr Ruparelia for breach of the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement.
Under this same application, Crane Bank (in receivership) wants to amend its original plaint and make changes with regard to the manner in which Rasiki Kantaria became a shareholder in Crane Bank and also bring an alternative cause of action against the businessman.

The last application is about former shareholders of defunct National Bank of Commerce (NBC), including businessman Amos Nzeyi, who are seeking to be added to the BoU suit against Mr Ruparelia.
In September 2012, BoU took over NBC before selling it to then Crane Bank in which Mr Ruparelia had shares. NBC was co-owned by former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, city businessman Amos Nzeyi, retired Supreme Court judge George Kanyeihamba, among others.
Mr Nzeyi, who sued Mr Ruparelia, contends that him and Mr Kantaria acted dishonestly in authorising the execution of the purchase agreement for NBC assets and did not meet the test of managing, controlling and owning the bank.

On Monday this week, Mr Ruparelia through his lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) filed his response to oppose Crane Bank (in receivership) to amend its original suit to include an alternative action. The tycoon contends that the amendment is a means to defeat his defence that he has since filed based on clear facts.

“That by reason of the foregoing, I am advised by my lawyers of Kampala Associated Advocates, which reason I believe to be true that the proposed amendment prejudices me as it attempts to stop me from raising the point of law I had given notice that I was going to raise,” Mr Ruparelia states in his application to oppose the amendment.

He adds: “That according to Margaret Kasule’s affidavit, the proposed amended plaint is purportedly introduced as an alternative cause of action and in particular to secure the correlative rights of Crane Bank in receivership under the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement.”
The intended amendment, according to Mr Ruparelia, proposes that he received Shs35.8b instead of Shs35.2b from Mr Kantaria.

The businessman also fears that if the original plaint is amended, new issues might be introduced and that he may be ambushed.
Mr Ruparelia further contends that the money under the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement was strict entitlement of BoU only and that Crane Bank in receivership has no right to $52m (about Shs187b) or any sum since the confidential agreement proposed payment of $60m (about Shs215b) to BoU.

KEY ISSUES

Conflict of interest. In Mr Ruparelia’s countersuit, the businessman accuses BoU lawyers (MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates) of conflict of interest and faults Bank of Uganda for breach of Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement.
Receipts. Although MMARKS at the weekend disowned Mr Ruparelia, the businessman in a September 11 rejoinder to his affidavit, the property mogul attached invoices from Mr Masembe to Meera Investments and receipts from MMARKS for the payment of professional fees and stamp duty.

Extension. The other application expected to be heard today is that of extension of time as requested by BoU in connection with late response to the counter suit lodged against them by Mr Ruparelia for breach of the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement.

1 month 1 week ago

What these NRM MPs are doing is mob justice and castrating the constitution instead of legislating for the good of this country. It is unfortunate and I hope their voters punish them.

Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda North, NRM)

My conscience tells me that this is not good for this country. I am going to pray and fast so that this resolution does not come to pass.

Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central, Independent)

We have been telling Ugandans that these NRM MPs are not trustworthy and don’t say what they mean.

Their intention right from the start was to remove age limits but people thought we were dreaming. Please voters, call them to ask who gave them the right to amend the constitution without your consent.  

John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya, NRM)

This clandestine group of MPs is trying to agitate for the removal of the only safety valve we have in the constitution. When I put up my hand, they did not allow me to speak; so, I walked out in protest.

Gordon Bafaki (Kazo, NRM)

I am not party to that resolution because if there is anything that requires my voice, it has to go through the NRM caucus.

The meeting, which took place today, Tuesday, was for some individuals, so I don’t concur with whatever was discussed.

Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West, DP)

What they are doing is very dangerous and we are going to do something to block such a move. We shall come ready to fight. We must fight to preserve the dignity of our constitution.

Francis Gonahasa (Kabweri, FDC)

It makes me sick when I hear people supporting the lifting of the presidential age limits. Leaders come and leaders go.

Change of leadership should be continuous. That is a very unfortunate decision by those MPs who are a large group of young people who have no confidence in themselves.

James Acidiri (Maracha East MP, NRM)

I am not going to support the lifting of the age limit and no amount of money will change my stance.

I came to parliament not because of my party but my strength and they can chase me if they decide that those against the amendment should leave the party. 

Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East, FDC)

I do not think they accepted to support the age limit removal on their own.

We are going to investigate who is behind this move and after the investigation, we shall go back to the people and tell them. This is not President Museveni’s empire, but a country supposed to be owned by all Ugandans.

1 month 1 week ago

The campaign for the removal of the age limit on presidential candidates dramatically moved from the fringes of ruling NRM party activists on to the national stage yesterday.

NRM MPs announced at a press briefing at parliament that they would introduce a private member’s bill seeking to remove the age limit on the presidency, which would otherwise prevent President Museveni’s candidacy in the 2021 elections.

Tuesday’s dramatic turning point was a culmination of several manoevres that built up momentum towards the same goal. The Observer traces these developments since 2015.

NRM supporters dressed in dry banana leaves demonstrate against age limit recently 

2015 constitutional amendment

As the country warmed up for the 2016 general election, some constitutional amendments, mostly to do with elections, were presented before parliament.

In April 2015, The Observer revealed that that some ministers had attempted to smuggle the age limit amendment into the others to be considered by parliament, only for First Lady Janet Museveni, who was then minister of Karamoja, to express disgust.

The ministers reportedly in support of the proposal included Rosemary Najjemba, Henry Banyenzaki,  Rebecca Otengo, Charles Bakkabulindi and Alex Onzima.

“For heaven’s sake, why do we have to be so predictable?” Janet Museveni was quoted as rebuking the ministers. Her view was upheld and the age limit amendment was shelved.

Ssekitooleko's private member's bill

Immediately after he was sworn in for a second term as Nakifuma MP, Robert Kafeero Ssekitooleko spearheaded a move to open up terms of office for electoral commissioners and extend the retirement age for judges.

Kafeero’s legislative manoeuvre was viewed by many in the opposition as a disguised plot to introduce an amendment to remove the presidential age limits.

His effort, however, suffered a stillbirth after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga ruled that parliament would not entertain piecemeal amendments to the constitution, as the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister had promised an omnibus constitutional amendment bill.

Kyankwanzi district NRM resolution

On July 4, 2016, the Kyankwanzi district NRM council passed a resolution calling on Members of Parliament from the area to spearhead the campaign to amend article 102(b) of the constitution to remove the upper age limit for presidential candidates.

The resolution was moved by one Raphael Muwonge.  

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe decorates President Museveni with a medal 

Otafiire speaks

In July this year, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, told this newspaper that all articles, including the one on age limits, were up for possible amendment.

Youths meeting

At a meeting of youths convened by State House aide David Mafabi in July, it was affirmed that the age limit was standing in the way of President Museveni, an exemplary leader.

Age limit ‘idlers’

Asked by a journalist at State House Entebbe in July to comment on the raging age limit debate, President Museveni said idle people were wasting time debating a proposal that does not exist.

“Part of the rumour is that there is debate about the age limit; what are you debating? Which proposal are you debating or talking about? Where is the proposal? You cannot debate something, which is not yet proposed. If it is brought, we shall debate it,” Museveni said.

KALOC pressure group

The most recent effort has been championed by youth campaigners working under a loose coalition named Kick Age Limitations out of the Constitution (KALOC). They got a huge public embrace from Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda last week and NRM secretariat officials.

To remove the spotlight from Museveni and get youths behind the proposal, this group pushed for removal of not just the 75-year upper age limit but also the lower 35-year limit.

Rugunda confirmed to The Observer in an interview that he was meeting the youth.

“Yes I meet them; they are my young comrades,” the prime minister said.

He also confirmed he was in support of their cause.

“I see nothing that provides a scientific or rational reason that somebody who is above 75 years cannot be president,” he added.

1 month 1 week ago

Seven human rights activists have jointly sued the Electoral Commission seeking to stop the November local council elections on account of being conducted by voters lining up behind candidates.

In the application, which names the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Attorney General as respondents, Norman Tumuhimbise, Hamisi Musoke, Becky Achom, Bashir Mubiru, Taddeo Kawuki and Nicholas Atuhairwe want court to declare that organizing  such elections without using the secret ballot method threatens, compromises and infringes upon the fundamental human rights and freedoms of Ugandans guaranteed by the Constitution.

They contend that an election by lining up is against the right to political/public participation, the right to a secret ballot and the right to free and fair election.

Electoral Commission has been sued

In an affidavit sworn in support of the application, Tumuhimbise argues that the guidelines set by the EC not only violate the voters’ civil liberties and fundamental human rights, but also [the elections] can’t be free and fair.

“The guidelines will expose voters to possible intimidation, undue influence and manipulation,” Tumuhimbise said.

Last month, EC chairman Simon Byabakama announced that LC I, II and women council elections would be held on November 21. 

Addressing journalists, Byabakama said the commission had received Shs 15.7bn from government to carry out the exercise in 59,315 villages across the country.

Byabakama added that polling will be by lining up behind candidates, their agents or party symbols in line with the Local Governments Amendment Act. He said it was important to change the law to allow for lining up because government couldn’t afford secret ballot elections.

“Government was [to spend over Shs 500bn] to organize these elections in each of the 59,315 villages. This hindered us from organizing the election for 15 years,” Byabakama said.

“I think we should embrace this method although it is not the best but maybe in future when our finances improve, we will be able to return to secret ballot.”

He nevertheless emphasized that lining up is a very transparent way of holding elections.

“What is as transparent as people lining up; there is no room for ghosts,” Byabakama said.

Asked why they did not go to the Constitutional court to challenge the amendment of the Local Governments Act, which paved the way for voting by lining up, Tumuhimbise told The Observer yesterday that their application is moved under article 50 of the constitution.

The article states that any person who claims that a fundamental or freedom guaranteed under the constitution has been infringed or threatened is entitled to apply to a rights and competent court for redress, which may include compensation.

“We have a genetically modified parliament that has no regard for people. We think if any of their actions threatens fundamental human rights, it must be challenged first,” Tumuhimbise said.

But Tumuhimbise didn’t rule out challenging the amendment in the Constitutional court, saying it remains an option.

1 month 1 week ago

Behind the scenes at the ongoing presidential live radio broadcasts meant to sensitise people on the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 is a carefully constituted vetting team, which makes sure the right questions and messages filter through the studios.

In interviews with people familiar with radios where President Museveni has so far appeared on his land awareness talk-shows, The Observer learnt that apart from the frequent body searches of program moderators, the president’s team vets questions to be posed.

For instance at Point FM on Saturday, September 9, the show host Sam Balaba Magala spent some time with Don Innocent Wanyama, the senior presidential press secretary, and the minister of state for Kampala Benny Namugwanya Bugembe, going over more than 400 questions that had been sent in earlier by the radio’s listeners.

President Museveni (R) inside Point FM studios

“We took two days asking listeners to send in their questions to the president but on the D-day, the questions were edited and those that were deemed irrelevant were dropped,” Magala told this writer.

Most questions that were dropped, according to Magala, were about the president’s longstanding unfulfilled promises. Besides that, a radio manager who declined to be named, said phone calls into the studio were controlled.

“They [president’s team] came with some phone lines that they added to our on-air studio lines,” a manager said.

ONLY TWO CALLERS

At Point FM in Mubende on Saturday, September 9, only two callers got through the designated studio lines and both, according to Magala, were callers he knew. He said after that, the studio telephone lines went off.

About an hour to Museveni’s arrival, the show host was ordered to enter the studio and was required not to move out until the president left.

Inside the studio, Magala was reminded that he had to allow the president to make his case with little interruption. But the show host was also told that he had to project a sense of being in charge.

At Radio Buddu on Sunday, September 10, Museveni got about seven callers, all NRM leaders who had spent days in meetings with the Masaka resident district commissioner, Lt Joe Walusimbi, and Umar Ssekasamba who hosted the programme.

Interviewed for a comment on Monday, Wanyama accused this writer of having a hidden agenda.

“You have specialised in telling lies about this radio campaign, and it is obvious you have problems believing what we tell you, I doubt you’re asking to inform your story,” he said.

During the president’s talk show on Point FM on Saturday, Museveni warned government officials against helping landlords to evict tenants.

“The NRM cannot side with landlords against bibanja holders because during the bush war, we never had any landlords fighting with us, all the fighters were tenants,” Museveni said.

This came hours after Museveni issued free land titles to some 250 bibanja holders in the western district of Kibaale under the systematic land demarcation program.

The titles are part of the 20,000 acres that Uganda Land Commission (ULC) acquired at Shs 92bn from landlords in Bunyoro, Tooro, Ankole and Buganda who lost interest in their land after tenants took it over.

Landowners who gave up their land in Kibaale were paid Shs 15bn in compensation, according to President Museveni, who told his audience that most landowners had acquired the huge chunks of land unfairly.

“Most of the landlords acquired the land as a reward from the colonialists for collaborating with them. That is why we have a few individuals owning expansive chunks of land; it was a reward to them for betraying Africans; they were collaborators, to us they are traitors,” Museveni told his radio audience.

From Mubende on Saturday, Museveni travelled to Masaka where he made another appearance on Radio Buddu. At both radio stations, Museveni arrived shortly after 8pm for the shows originally scheduled to air from 7pm to 9pm.

To put into perspective his desire to have article 26 of the Constitution amended to allow government to take possession of private land without prior compensation of the owner, Museveni takes his listeners through the 1900 Buganda agreement that created the landlords and tenants.

But in Mubende, he was asked about landlords with connections to State House. For instance, Sam Balaba Magala, who moderated the Point FM talk-show, consistently mentioned a woman only identified as Omumbejja Naava who owns more than three square miles of land at Butoloogo.

She reportedly works with Maj Eric Kigambo who is attached to Special Forces Command (SFC). The president was told that Naava uses soldiers to evict people. The defiant ones, Magala claimed, are arrested, beaten and jailed.

Museveni asked Mubende RDC Florence Beyunga to explain.

“Mubende has a high influx of migrants from other parts of the country, especially Kigezi, and some from outside our borders; it is some of these that are claiming to be bona fide occupants that are being evicted,” Beyunga said.

“As for the soldiers, Your Excellency, the soldiers are mostly returnees from Somalia who bought their own land. But even if the soldier rightfully owns the land, the locals will protest,” Beyunga added.

The RDC was, however, challenged by talk-show host Magala and Mubende LC-V chairman Francis Kibuuka Amooti. Magala told the president that Beyunga was covering up for Naava and Maj Kigambo.

NO ARMY UNIFORM

“I don’t want to hear any case of soldiers involved in quarrels over land with the locals,” Museveni said.

He wondered why soldiers have to dress in their military fatigues when buying land. He ordered an investigation into the Butoloogo case and promised to visit the area next month to hear more from the residents.

“But you should also tell these issues to Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s commission [into land matters] when it comes here. We are going to jail all those who are involved in evictions of our people,” Museveni said.

Museveni also faulted the army for “mishandling” the Mubende gold mines evictions.

“The army overstepped its mandate, they went against some of the orders we gave them. Much as the artisanal miners were illegally occupying that land, there was no need of using too much force,” Museveni said.

1 month 1 week ago

KAMPALA- Judicial officers on Wednesday resolved to suspend their strike for the next three months to allow government fulfil its promise towards their welfare demands.

They emphasised that the strike has just been suspended not called off.

They argued that should government fail to honour its promises by December 11, the strike would  resume.

“We have resolved that with effect from tomorrow [Thursday], officers return to work. The industrial action is hereby deferred until December 11, to give government a chance to implement what it has promised, "Mr Godfrey Kaweesa, the president of Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) said during the extra-ordinary general assembly.

“Government has promised to give each magistrate a Double Cabin pickup truck and to provide security to all judicial officers. It has pledged to provide office equipment and it has as well pledged to increase our salary by November this year. So, in December, we shall come back and take stock of what government has promised.”

He said: “The other thing government is going to work on is the Judiciary Administration Bill. After 15-years, the Ministry of Finance has finally issued a Certificate of Financial Implication meaning that government will secure the funds to ensure the money is available.”

Mr Kaweesa said that the Minister of Justice Gen Kahinda Otafiire promised to table the bill before Cabinet on Friday and then present it in Parliament next week.

He said once this bill is enacted, the Judiciary shall attain financial and human resource autonomy.

He added that this means that there shall be a Judiciary Fund out of which operational expenses shall be appropriated just like Parliament and the Executive.

The suspension of the strike that had entered the second week, paves way for courts across the country to resume operations.

 

Justice Katureebe speaks to Judicial officers on Thursday at the High Court in Kampala. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

Gen Otafiire said as a steward of the department of Justice, he is not going to struggle for just a pay but a fair share of the national cake.

“Let us pass the Administration of Justice Bill and we give you your money in consonant with other arms of government. This bill was a struggle but I am happy we are about to arrive. Those responsible for the Treasury have given us a Certificate of Financial Implication and I am struggling to have the bill tabled by Friday,” Mr Otafiire said.

He added that: “We have been able to come up with a number of agreements when met the Executive, Judiciary. The President agreed on a number of short-term, medium and long term measures for the judiciary.”

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe applauded judicial officers for their boldness to take an unprecedented action of laying down their tools in a struggle for the enhancement of working conditions, personal benefits and emoluments of judicial officers.

1 month 2 weeks ago
President Museveni has warned Best Kemigisa, the Queen Mother of Tooro kingdom against carrying out illegal land evictions.
 
Museveni issued the warning while on appearing on Voice of Tooro radio station in Fort Portal on Wednesday night as part of his nationwide campaign to explain the proposed constitutional amendments on land laws.
 
The warning stems from complaints from some callers against the Queen mother. Steven Mugurusi, a resident of Kitumba requested the president to rein in on Kemigisa.
 
In his response Museveni directed Kemigisa to stop the evictions, saying they are contrary to the law.
President Museveni has warned Queen Mother Kemigisa against any further evictions
"The law is very clear; no one should be evicted from their land. That person (Kemigisa) should stop," Museveni said.

Kemigisa has in the past come under criticism for evicting families using Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers attached to the security detail of King Oyo.

 
Some of the families are in Kitumba and Kidukuru villages in Fort Portal. Last year, Kemigisa threatened to evict more than 70 families from a piece of land measuring 25 acres in Kitumba. She said that she wants to use the land to construct a school. 

Museveni also said that should the evictions persist, the actions of Kemigisa should be brought to the attention of the local leaders in the district and action taken. 

 
"It's good you have told me who is evicting people from their land. This should stop and the leaders in the district should take note and do something", Museveni said. 

In May this year, Tooro elders under their umbrella body, Isaazi lyAbaantu Bakuru Ba Tooro petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Land Probe Commission over Kemigisa's actions. 

 
On the controversial leasing of crater lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Services Limited by Kabarole district local government, Museveni said that the investor should have thoroughly consulted the community surrounding the lakes before restocking the lakes.

"The fishermen have been using the lakes for a long time, they should have been consulted before restocking started. I don't see any problem with both parties sitting to find an amicable solution", Museveni said. 

 
Kabarole district Local Government in 2015 allegedly leased twenty crater lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Services Limited to restock them with Fish.

This prompted Kichwamba sub-county residents to challenge the matter in court. In June Fort Portal High court resident judge, Anthony Ojok Ayuko cancelled the deal citing irregularities. Ferdsult and Kabarole district local government have since appealed the judgment.

1 month 2 weeks ago

Striking judicial officers have today, Wednesday suspended their industrial action and resolved to return to work after government made commitments to implement some of their demands.

The judicial officers under their umbrella body, the Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) laid down tools two weeks ago, demanding for salary increment, transport and housing allowances, security among others.

And now following a meeting with the executive and UJOA representatives, in which government through the Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, promised to address some of their grievances, the judicial officers have deferred their strike to December 11, "to give government a chance to implement" some of their demands.

According to UJOA president Godfrey Kaweesa, government has agreed to give each and every magistrate and registrar a double cabin pickup truck.

Judges arrive at Kololo recently 

Government also agreed to provide security to all judicial officers according to Kaweesa. In addition, government also agreed to provide office equipment including computers, furniture and internet to all courts. Government will also enhance salaries of judicial officers by November.

Initially, UJOA wanted  the chief justice to earn Shs 55m per month; his deputy, Shs 53m; the principal judge, 50m; the seven justices of the Supreme court Shs 34m each; Justices of the Court of Appeal (who are 13), Shs 33m each; and High court justices (who are 47), Shs 31m each.  

UJOA also demanded that the chief registrar (who is one) earns Shs 27m per month; registrars (who are 3), Shs 23m each; deputy registrars (who are 29), Shs 21m each; assistant registrars (12), Shs 20m each; chief magistrates (44), Shs 17m; senior principal magistrates grade one, Shs 14m each; principal magistrate grade one (4) Shs 14m each; Senior magistrate grade one (3), Shs 13.7m each; grade one magistrate (187), Shs 13.3m each; and senior principal magistrate grade two,  Shs 12.6m.

According to the current pay structure, the chief justice earns Shs 20m; his deputy, Shs 18m; and principal judge, Shs 10m while  a supreme court judge  earns Shs9.6m and a judge of the Court of Appeal/Constitutional court gets Shs 9.3m.

A High court judge get Shs 9m. Down the ladder, Grade two magistrates earn Shs 737, 837, a month; senior grade two magistrates, (Shs 860, 810); principal magistrate grade two (Shs 1.2m); magistrate grade one, (Shs1.5m); and principal magistrate grade one (Shs 2.1m).

Senior principal magistrate grade one gets Shs 2.2m; chief magistrate, (Shs 2.4m); assistant registrar earns Shs 3.1m; and chief registrar earns Shs 4.8m.

1 month 2 weeks ago

Bank of Uganda has filed an amendment to its Commercial court suit accusing businessman Sudhir Ruparelia of stealing over Shs 400bn from his collapsed Crane bank.

In its fresh application filed on September 4, 2017, two months after its main suit, BOU said the amendment is meant to address issues raised by Sudhir in his defence and counterclaim, which dealt extensively with his rights under the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement (CSRA) signed between him and the bank.

Under the agreement, BOU says Sudhir agreed to pay $60m and return 47 freehold/mailo titles for Crane bank’s branches countrywide.         

It should be remembered that Sudhir used the CSRA as his first line of defence, contending that the fraud case is dead on arrival because he signed an agreement which, according to him, cushioned him from any central bank civil or criminal lawsuits.  

He cited clause 6 of the agreement, which says, “This confidential settlement and release agreement is in full, complete and final settlement of all claims  that either party (or related parties or shareholders) may have against the other, and each of Bank of Uganda and Crane Bank Limited hereby fully and finally releases and forever discharges and shall refrain from instituting directing, procuring, instigating or maintaining all or any actions, claims, sanctions (whether administrative, civil or criminal in nature). ”

Although BOU admits in its defence against Sudhir’s counterclaim that it dealt extensively with its rights under the CSRA, it says since the businessman has relied much on the agreement, it’s only fair that the bank should also amend its original case to show how Sudhir violated the agreement.

According to BOU, the violation of the agreement would be an alternative to the earlier fraud grounds they set against Sudhir.      

“The applicants have accordingly prepared an “amended plaint” to plead the alternative cause of action based on the CSRA, which amended plaint is attached to the affidavit filed in support of this application and it is just and equitable that leave be granted to amend the plaint in the manner set out therein,” the application reads in part.

Meanwhile, the Commercial court has set September 13, 2017 to hear BOU’s application seeking to be allowed to file its defence to Sudhir’s counterclaim in which he wants BOU to pay him $8 million. 

1 month 2 weeks ago

President, Yoweri Museveni is set to appear on radio talk shows to across the country to clarify on the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017. The bill seeks to amend article 26 of the Constitution to provide for the compulsory acquisition of land for government projects.
 
Article 26 of the Constitution provides for the right of persons to own property and how it can be acquired by the government. But the government argues that the provision has slowed down the implementation of key project resulting from compensation disputes.

A graphic from State House announcing the talk shows

The proposed amendment has attracted wide condemnation from the public, including religious leaders and civil society organizations among others.

Now, Don Wanyama, the President's Press Secretary, says the president will be traversing the country to speak about the proposed amendment since it has raised contentious questions.
 
Wanyama says Museveni will kick off the campaign in Kigezi region by conducting a two-hour radio talk show on Voice of Kigezi in Kabale District before heading to Ankole region on Tuesday.

Wanyama says that the state has also directed all other radio stations in Kigezi to tap the signal from Voice of Kigezi and rebroadcast it ensure people from all corners in the area get the message.
 
According to a close source, Museveni will thereafter hold a closed door meeting with Kabale and Rukiga District National Resistance Movement (NRM) party leaders on Tuesday to try and convince Abigail Victoria Atukunda, the independent candidate for the Rukiga District woman member of Parliament to step down in favor of her NRM rival, Caroline Kamusiime Muhwezi.
 
Atukunda contested in the NRM party primaries and lost to Muhwezi. She rejected the poll results, saying the election was not free and fair. All the other losers including Pamela Kihumuro Maureen Kyarisiima, Alice Bashobokwe and Charity Tumubweine have since thrown their weights behind Atunkunda.
 
They accused Kamusiime of bribing police to harass and arrest their agents on polling day. They also claimed that the office of the Kabale District NRM party registrar turned a blind eye towards Kamusiime who was openly bribing voters on polling day.

1 month 2 weeks ago

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