Beatrice Nyakaisiki Byenkya, the Secretary to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), is at the moment a subject of graft criminal prosecution.
She ended up in the dock after having purportedly barred graft investigators attached to the IGG from accessing her office. The detectives had paid the visit to retrieve what they claim was evidence linking Byenkya to corruption.
We hope you might be knowing that story by now. Betty Olive Namisango Kamya Turomwe, the IGG, filed these charges against Byenkya. This is how the powerful woman at ULC ended up arraigned before the Kololo-based anti-graft court.
The presently out-on-bail Byenkya faces the music with three cops offering guard duties at her office who she is assumed to have instructed to keep at bay Kamya’s agents. That was but the preamble.
We now beg to present as well as discuss another interesting angle to this story which the media had by now conceivably overlooked. We are going to do this by posing the question: Did Kamya use a flawed process to pursue a just cause? We shall answer the question in affirmative and then give our reasons for holding so. Here we go.
First and foremost, and with candid respect, we are of the considered view that the good IGG erred in turning up at the office of Byenkya in the style and fashion she chose to.
We hold so because we feel the agents of the IGG required to obtain a search warrant (SW) from the courts of law prior to turning up at the offices of Byenkya let alone going in to search for whatever they wanted to retrieve.
That is the lawful and ideal procedure under the legal and ideal environment to follow in pursuing matters the IGG was pursuing. We feel and now courteously submit that since the agents of Madam Kamya had turned up at ULC minus a SW from a competent court of law prior to doing so, Madam Byenkya was justified in turning them away.
Not only were the visitors unsanctioned, but were also unwanted. One would even describe them as gate-crashers or trespassers if he or she were to choose so.
We contend that ULC which is naturally one of the sensitive offices in the motherland by the fact that therein is stored highly valuable documents, cannot be accessed and searched at one’s whim.
This is why we strongly think one seeking to gain access to sensitive info at ULC would need to seek for court permission or at least have the courtesy of informing the people in charge prior to doing so other than storming the place in a Ki-nigeria-like fashion as if they were walking into an abandoned dwelling in an equally deserted land.
One acting as the agents of Kamya chose to in this matter would run the risk of being treated as playing to the gallery (read attention seekers) no matter what he or she could be pursuing a justifiable cause in the first place.
A case can be made that the investigators had identified themselves to the people at ULC as agents of the IGG and what had taken them to the offices. Well, Uganda is gifted with biological characters who have and continue to impersonate people they are factually not including falsely posing as special aides complete with documentation of the First Son himself!
That said and done, a person in the shoes Byenkya is in is naturally and legally bound to take great care as not to welcome as well as offer entry to any stranger simply because he or she happens to turn up at her offices claiming to be working for this and that office.
Yes Kamya is the IGG. She is also obliged to fight graft. But that doesn’t give her the leverage to do as she wishes or to be highhanded. She must act according to the laws of the land lest her cases would end up being tossed on the ground of having persecuted instead of prosecuting the suspects.
Immediately after Kamya initiated her prosecution, Byenkya claimed how she was using her current office to persecute her over a past scandal which purportedly saw the then minister for Lands falsely soliciting for a supplementary budget from the National Assembly in the name of ULC.
Byenkya says because she denied having generated the issue of the supplementary budget as the minister was telling the National Assembly, Kamya felt embattled and saw her appointment as the IGG as a perfect opportunity to take revenge against Byenkya.
Well, those matters Byenkya raised came up in the past and the National Assembly actually rejected to appropriate the funds in billions, which Kamya reportedly had told the lawmakers ULC required.
While we don’t buy into Byenkya’s argument above wholesome, we nevertheless think it adds a spin to the beef between her and Kamya.
It would certainly excite the court trial should Byenkya’s attorneys choose to pursue that line of defense. We shall really love to hear Kamya’s rejoinder to the scandal which has, since it broke out, never fully put to bed.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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