9 December 2012

Uganda: Fox Odoi Probe Gets 10 Days to Chase Wild Goose

In what seems to be a chase of a wild goose, Fox Odoi, the chairman of the Rules, Discipline and Privileges committee was given ten more days to conclude the investigations into the misconduct of hundreds of lawmakers during the November 27 deliberation on the Petroleum bill.

The investigations have been described by lawmakers as a "waste of taxpayers' money", with some calling on the Speaker, who ordered for the probe, to simply leave it and consider giving amnesty to the 239 lawmakers. The argument of lawmakers like Dr Francis Epetait (Ngorwa county) is that if the Odoi committee was to recommend the punishment for the misconduct of these lawmakers, then the speaker Rebecca Kadaga would be left with no quorum to conduct business. Parliament has 375 MPs.

"If action is taken, you will not have quorum. 239 MPs is a huge number, and it shows that the action was spontaneous and not deliberate. Madam Speaker, I ask that these members be given amnesty," Epetait said.

However, Kadaga, who granted the ten days' extension request by Fox Odoi, argued that she could decide on whether to grant amnesty or not because the committee had not compiled a comprehensive report over the matter. On November 27, MPs turned rowdy and refused to put to vote the proposal by President Museveni that clause 9 of the Petroleum Bill 2012, be recommitted before parliament so that the powers to grant, revoke license and negotiate oil deals be removed from the mandate of the Petroleum Authority to the minister of Energy.

So far sixteen witnesses have been interviewed by the Fox Odoi committee, and he has assured Parliament that in the next ten days, his probe would finish interfacing with the remaining 200 and more members that have been cited as potential witnesses. Interestingly, Odoi told Parliament that some of the members on his committee were witnesses--raising the possibility that he might lack quorum and signatures to make his report valid.

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