16 October 2018

Uganda: Museveni Summons Beneficiary in Oil Bonus Case

Kampala — Court was on Monday informed that President Museveni had summoned one of the beneficiaries of the Shs6b presidential "oil handshake" for a meeting and could not, therefore, appear for the proceedings.

The beneficiary, Mr Ali Sekatawa, formerly a lawyer for Uganda Revenue Authority, was summoned along with the Attorney General (AG).

The summoning was revealed yesterday before the High Court in Kampala when the case came up for cross-examination of the AG, Mr William Byaruhanga, on his affidavit in a case where Mr Sekatawa petitioned court to quash the findings and recommendations of Parliament.

Mr Sekatawa is challenging Parliament's directives for the beneficiaries to refund the Shs6b President Museveni gave them as a bonus for their role in the Capital Gains tax dispute between the government and two oil firms which Uganda won on arbitration in London and recovered about Shs1.6 trillion.

Mr Brian Kabaiza, the lawyer who represented Mr Sekatawa, yesterday submitted that his client could not attend because he received the President's communication late on Sunday summoning him and Mr Byaruhanga for a meeting.

On September 21, 2017, Mr Sekatawa sued government (Attorney General), Parliamentary Commission and Parliamentary Committee on Statutory and State Enterprises (Cosase).

In his suit, Mr Sekatawa claims that the composition of Cosase included MPs who had openly expressed their opinion prior to the beginning of the investigation into the oil cash bonus that the government officials must refund the reward that had been given to them by the President.

Cited

He said the then Cosase chairperson, Mr Abdu Katuntu, and committee member Medard Lubega Sseggona should not have been part of the investigation.

"It was, therefore, improper for the same Members of Parliament to purport to take part in an inquiry that questioned these same expenditures that they themselves had earlier approved," Mr Sekatawa stated in his affidavit before court.

He also accused Cosase of recommending that the beneficiaries be investigated by the Inspector General Government who was also biased in the matter having appeared before the same committee and gave her opinion that the President had no power to give the bonus under Article 98 and 99.

Mr Sekatawa received Shs242m as part of the Shs6b that was shared among 42 government officials who successfully argued Uganda's capital gains tax cases against two British oil firms in the UK.

Presiding judge Andrew Bashaija adjourned the case to February 28 next year, insisting the AG shows up and be cross-examined.

Background

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 to investigate the award. The committee was chaired by Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu.

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