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Uganda: Shs4.2 billion bicycles scam: Court upholds convicts’ punishment

The Court of Appeal has upheld the 10-year jail term sentence that was handed to John Muhanguzi Kashaka, the former Ministry of Local Government Permanent Secretary, for causing a Shs4.2 billion financial loss to the government, in the infamous bicycle deal scandal.

The court also upheld the punishment that was handed to the former principal accountant Henry Bamutura, former assistant commissioner in charge of policy and planning, Sam Emorut Erongot who will both serve a 13 year jail term.

Adam Aluma, who was sentenced to 1 year and nine months has, however, served the sentence.

In 2014, the former civil servants were convicted by the then Anti-Corruption Court Judge Catherine Banugemereire for the various roles they played in contracting  Ammam Industrial Tools and Equipment Limited, a sham company  to buy 70, 000 bicycles from India.

The bicycles were supposed to be used by parish and village local council chairpersons in the 2011 general elections.

To date, the bicycles have not been delivered.

Justice Banugemereire convicted them, barred them from holding any government office for ten years and ordered them to refund the money.

However, the convicts challenged their respective sentences and conviction arguing that they were harsh and not valid in law.

They also argued that Justice Banugemereire erred in law and fact when she failed to apply provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act in determining the ingredients of the offence of financial loss committed by the appellants, as a result of the procurement transaction.

The three Court of Appeal judges; Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Christopher Madrama agreed on the quashing of the said sentences.

They also acquitted Mr Timothy Musherure, a consultant of any wrong doing and abetted an appeal by Robert Mwebaze, a former procurement officer in the Ministry of Local Government because he died before the case was determined.

However, the Justices disagreed on the issue of refunding the money to the government.

The dissenting Justice Madrama argued in his judgement that Justice Banugemereire erred while ordering a refund because it was not prescribed for in law.

However, Justices Obura and Musoke maintained that the convicts should refund the money except Mr Musherure who was acquitted.

They argued that the lower court made it clear that the sentence would deter other civil servants from committing corruption-related scandals.

The convicts who have since been out on bail will start serving their respective sentence on Monday afternoon.

However, it has been reported that Sam Erongot, one of the suspects mysteriously disappeared from court premises shortly after the verdict.

He is accordingly being hunted by security forces.

By Daily Monitor

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