17 May 2017

Tanzania: Top Judges Linked to Drugs, Escrow Quit

Photo: The Citizen
Madam Justice Upendo Msuya and Justice Aloysius Mujulizi.

Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday accepted the resignations of two High Court judges, one deeply entangled in allegations of mishandling drug trafficking cases, and the other alleged to have benefited from the IPTL Escrow cash illegally withdrawn from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

The State House said in a statement yesterday that the judges who tendered their resignations to President Magufuli were Madam Justice Upendo Msuya and Justice Aloysius Mujulizi.

In another development, Dr Magufuli also accepted the resignation of Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Saidi Meck Sadiki yesterday.

Although the State House statement did not give details for the resignation of the judges, it is in the public domain that the two have been under scrutiny by authorities over alleged misconduct.

Judge Msuya

Justice Msuya found herself under intense criticism in recent years over the way she handled drug trafficking cases.

Anti-drug crusaders said under her watch, drug traffickers clandestinely escaped justice on highly questionable grounds.

She first came to the spotlight in 2011 after she released on bail two Pakistanis who stood trial for trafficking in 180kg of heroin worth over Sh6 billion.

The Pakistanis, Abdul Ghan Peer Bux and Shahbaz Malik, fled the country soon after they were given bail. Granting of bail is forbidden by Tanzanian law, for suspects seized with drugs exceeding Sh10 million. Her ruling generated a huge public outcry.

MPs were among the first to voice concern over the granting of bail to foreigners during a one-day seminar for the legislators organised by anti-narcotics agencies in Dodoma, August, 2011.

Mr Rogers Siyanga, now commissioner general of the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), but then a member of the National Task Force Against Drug Trafficking formed by President Jakaya Kikwete, told the MPs that the decision dampened their zeal to fight drug trafficking.

At the seminar, then-Kasulu Urban MP Moses Machali demanded that Justice Msuya be arrested and charged in court for aiding the suspected drug dealers escape justice.

The then Attorney General Frederick Werema had a difficult time calming down the lawmakers.

"The DPP suggested to me that the judge be arrested, but I advised him that we better approach the Court of Appeal," said Werema, as MPs piled up pressure for action.

Later, Mr Werema admitted that although legal weaknesses were minimal, human weaknesses were huge with regard to the decision.

The Citizen has learnt that the name of Judge Msuya was on the list of judiciary officers who were accused of manipulating drug trafficking cases that anti-drugs authorities want the Chief Justice to act on.

Justice Msuya also raised eyebrows after she released on bail two Tanzanians and a Pakistani who had been seized with a truck containing 50 kilogrammes of heroin.

The judge said there was no evidence that the two Tanzanians seized with a Mitsubishi Pajero at Kabuku in Tanga had knowledge that the car they were driving was stuffed with drugs.

She also set free a Pakistani Majid Gholamghader who was said to have supplied the drugs for lack of evidence connecting him with the offence.

Anti-drugs crusaiders strongly criticized the decision to acquit the accused who were arrested after a long chase with the police in the Dar es Salaam-Tanga highway.

In the case, the judge acquitted Assad Aziz after prosecution informed the court they had not interest to pursue the case against him further.

Mujulizi implicated in Escrow

Justice Mujulizi found himself in trouble in December, 2014 after his name appeared on the list of individuals who received millions of shillings that had been illegally withdrawn from the Tegeta Escrow account at BoT.

He had received the money from a shareholder of the Independent Power Tanzania Limited, and owner of VIP Engineering, James Rugemarila.

The National Assembly passed eight resolutions, including one requiring President Kikwete to form an inquiry team to investigate judges Mujulizi and Justice John Ruhangisa, who were paid Sh40 million and Sh404 million, respectively.

Announcing actions taken by his government, President Kikwete said he was leaving the issue of judges to the Chief Justice because the legal and constitutional procedures required that the process to deal with judges be initiated by the judiciary.

Since then, the judiciary has not given details of its inquiry on the two judges.

Several top government officials were forced to resign because of the $122 million (Sh270 billion) Escrow account saga. The list included the former AG Werema.

The Tegeta Escrow account was jointly opened in the Bank of Tanzania by state power company Tanesco and independent power producer IPTL.

Justice Mujulizi was among the 20 judges President Kikwete appointed to the High Court in February, 2006.

Before the appointment, he worked at Ishengoma, Masha, Magai & Mujulizi Advocates (IMMMA) in Dar es Salaam.

Meck Sadick speaks out

Yesterday, Mr Meck Sadick told The Citizen that he had retired voluntarily because of old age.

He said he has served the government for quite a long time and has considered this the right time to give a chance to youthful and energetic Tanzanians who can cope with President Magufuli's speed.

"It is true that I have resigned voluntarily. I am surprised by information trending on social media that I was asked to quit. You know when you say to 'quit' it can easily be translated as if I did something wrong," he said.

He thanked President Magufuli for the confidence he had shown in him.

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