Court blocks refund of Shs6b oil bonus

KAMPALA- Court has issued an interim order blocking the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and other government agencies from investigating and forcing beneficiaries of the Shs6 billion controversial oil cash handshake to refund the money.

In his ruling, the head of High Court Civil Division, Justice Andrew Bashaija, said the interim order is to subsist until the hearing of the main case in which former Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) lawyer, Ali Sekatawa, sued government (Attorney General), Parliamentary Commission and committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) seeking a judicial review of the findings and recommendations of the oil cash bonanza.

“There is actually no risk in maintaining status quo. I am, therefore, exercising my jurisdiction and granting an interim order for marinating the status quo,” Justice Bashaija ruled.

This was after lawyers on both sides failed to come up with an agreed consent on the terms of the interim order as he had directed them.

Lawyers from Parliamentary Commission; Ms Stina Cherotich and Mr Solomon Kirunda, said they could not consent on the interim order while Mr Geoffrey Madete who represented the Attorney General, said he needed to consult his superiors.

This forced the judge to ask both sides to give their views on whether the interim order should be issued and Mr Brian Kabaiza on behalf of Mr Sekatawa, said the IGG had already written a letter dated October 4, 2017 seeking clarification from the Attorney General on whether the beneficiaries have refunded the money.

Justice Bashaija also issued summons against the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, to appear in court and be cross-examined in respect of his affidavit he swore in this case as requested by Ms Cherotich.

However, the judge expressed surprise on why Parliament would want to cross-examine a co-defendant in the case.

“…AG is supposed to be your lawyer, are you now seeking to cross-examine your lawyer? What if government wakes up and says let us implement; what will you do? It is like you are fooling me and I do not want to be fooled.

I am going to request you to move to the offices concerned and seek proper instruction on how to proceed,” Justice Bashaija said.

The decisive arrangement to reward 42 government officials with Shs6b was hatched during a May 17, 2015 meeting between President Museveni and Ms Doris Akol, the commissioner general of Uganda Revenue Authority.

The Speaker of Parliament on January 18, assigned the standing committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to investigate the award. The Committee was chaired by Bugweri MP, Abdu Katuntu.

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