In 2011, President Yoweri Museveni wrote distancing himself from having authorized the payment of a total of UGX142Bn in favor of businessman, Hassan Basajjabalaba (HABA). Other than that, the President would also reject to have exempted HABA from paying taxes out of the said sums of cash, controversial as it had been.
Prior to that, both Prof Khiddu Makubuya and Syda Bbumba, the Attorney General and Finance Minister of those time respectively, had assisted HABA to be contentiously paid the stated taxpayer’s tens of hundreds of billions of shillings. The two government officials had certified the payment under the cover of compensation which was due and payable to HABA.
This stance, since government had chased HABA from the management of Owino and Nakasero markets. The government in addition to that, had also removed the businessman from the management of the city abattoir on top of taking away from him, the tender of redeveloping the City Square. Following loss of those tenders, HABA would resort to lobbying Prof Khiddu Makubuya and Syda Bbumba to assist him to process the stated UGX142Bn compensation.
This scenario, either out of their own volition or out of the mistaken impression that the President had cleared the compensation which is what HABA had told them to be the case. But also given, may be that HABA is a good smooth operator himself, not to mention his closeness to the President at the time, the two cabinet officials would end up going ahead to render HABA’s wish.
But the deal would go from sweet to sour thereafter. Both Prof Khiddu and Bbumba would end up losing their respective cabinet slots in the next cabinet line-up over the role they had played in this saga. That would happen after it had emerged how HABA had forged a court decree on the way to receive the cash. But why?
This had been done to deceive how the compensation itself had been legit. Why not? If the courts of law had, after all, purportedly sanctioned the compensation sums. And, moreover, after the President had himself purportedly cleared the money to be paid out. Most importantly, the fake courts’ decree was aside from certifying the compensation sums, was also exempting the resultant package from being taxed.
But following the President’s rejection of HABA’s claims, the businessman together with his brother, Muzamir Basajjabalaba would end up being arraigned before the criminal courts. Thereafter, the suspects would move to the Constitutional Court to test the constitutionality of their own arraignment plus trial.
Bad for the petitioners hereof, the Constitutional court would end up sending them back to the Anti-corruption Court. That was after the Justices had held the charges to have been properly and legally instituted. So, the justices ruled, there was no justification at all for them to discontinue the trial.
But instead of going ahead to proceed with the trial as the Constitutional Court had directed in a ruling delivered in 2015, and in light of the previous President’s nod to the process, the DPP, Jane Frances Abodo would end up, alas, setting free HABA and his brother! The DPP would do this via a letter dated August 30th2022, as per the discovery which has since been made by the legal activists known as Legal Brain Trust, led by Isaac Semakadde.
Semakadde had initiated the prosecution of HABA and his brother, but only for the DPP to come in and take over the case. As it now turns out, Abodo wasn’t up to any good. This stance, since she has since assisted to suppress the prosecution of the case instead. And this can be ably testified to by Abodo’s letter withdrawing the charges and hence, setting free the suspects thereof, just like that.
Be that as it may, Semakadde has now given the DPP only three days to reinstate the case or face the consequences of her failure to heed the call. “We have a lot of evidence including that of His Excellency the President writing to distance himself from these forgeries,” a disappointed Semakadde fumes before demanding of Abodo to revisit her decision or face the music.
Semakadde points out that other than posturing as an anti-graft activist by going for this year’s anti-corruption celebrations, Abodo should spend that day working on the reinstatement of the charges against HABA because what he did purportedly boarders on corruption. We, at the Investigator have been a victim of Abodo’s injustice.
This, even having burned a lot of time as well as resources to collect evidence which was pinning Sudhir Ruparelia to have hacked our personal mobile phones plus social accounts. And having also pinned the same businessman for having paid hackers through his aide, Ussa Ssegawa, to disable our website. Consider. But alas, the DPP did not only end up suppressing the prosecution of Sudhir, but the woman would also not find it courteous to let us know why she had gone ahead to close the case.
Yet, we at the Investigator, had not expected a lot from the DPP. Considering that the same DPP would go on later thereafter to dismiss another case against Sudhir’s son, Rajiv Ruparelia, under exactly the same circumstances. A city maverick lawyer, Male Mabiriizi had lodged the said case against Rajiv for dumping debris in the Lake Victoria shores at Kitubulu.
The DPP would come in later and take over the case while claiming how she was going to prosecute Rajiv. The DPP’s intention, though, was to kill the case. Considering that she has since suppressed the prosecution of Rajiv. But even after, the regulator NEMA had directed Rajiv to undo the mess.
On a very serious note, as long as the DPP is going to remain vested with sweeping powers to decide which case to prosecute and which one not to prosecute, the longer her office is also going to continue exploiting such sweeping powers to sit on a category of cases as and when she chooses but to the greatest peril of justice itself.
- 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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