18 January 2017

Uganda: Tullow-Heritage Was Not an Ordinary Case, but 'International War' - Museveni

Photo: Daily Monitor
An expert watches a flaring experiment at one of the wells in the Albertine Graben. Government is looking to establish a refinery as well as a pipeline to transport oil for trade.

President Yoweri Museveni had defended the 'oil cash bonanza' in which 42 top civil servants and government officials were rewarded Shs. 6bn for their role in defending the oil tax cases in both Uganda and London.

The President said the oil cash bonanza; now commonly known as 'presidential golden handshake' was deliberate and did not break any law.

"I reject that I did anything wrong. I'm very proud of these young people," he reportedly told National Resistance Movement Members of Parliament on Tuesday while addressing a caucus meeting at State House Entebbe.

In anticipation of a heated debate in parliament over the oil cash payouts, Museveni said that the Tullow-Heritage case was no ordinary case and castigated Members of Parliament for insulting 'good people'.

"It was an international war, which the lawyers and the tax ladies [Ms. Allen Kagina and Ms. Akol Doris won amidst pressure, challenges and the temptations that they faced," he said.

Other officials who benefited from the 'presidential golden handshake include; former Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Energy, Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, former URA's head of legal affairs and ED KCCA, Jennifer Musisi, Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, former Attorney General Peter Nyombi and his deputy, Fred Ruhindi, Lawrence Kiiza from Ministry of Finance, Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director of PAU, Francis Atoke, the Solicitor General, lawyers; Ali Ssekatawa (URA), Martin Mwambutsya (then State Attorney), Peter Muliisa among others.

Museveni told Mps that during court proceedings of the case, he was approached by many people who advised him to settle the issue outside court, because Uganda was likely to lose a lot of money. He explained that he was strengthened by the Ugandan team that they were going to win the case - and it was through that background that he decided to thank the team.

"If the support staff were part of the big war that saved Uganda trillions and gained $ 451m, if they get shs,50 million for their first time in life, it is okay. It was their luck and they were part of the war," Museveni told Mps.

He defended his action arguing that in the last 30 years, he has given a monetary 'handshake' twice.

He explained that the first 'golden handshake' was in 2006 when he gave out $20,000 to a group of scientists in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development when they discovered oil and the second one being the Oil cash bonanza.

However, he said the only thing that could have gone wrong is that the list of beneficiaries could have been inflated behind his back.

"Perhaps there is a possibility that the list of beneficiaries was infiltrated and other names included. This has to be investigated," he noted.

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