Saturday, January 22, 2011

The truth on Mpokya evictions revealed! but not acted upon!

The case of Mpokya was investigated and it involved billions of Uganda shillings. During investigations interference was not only obvious but later it was halted after the investigators interviewing 500 people! One day this case should be ressurected. Read on a memo dated 5th Oct 2004...

INVESTIGATIONS INTO ALLEGED MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS MEANT FOR COMPENSATION OF THE PEOPLE EVICTED FROM MPOKYA GAME RESERVE, KABAROLE DISTRICT (TS.126.2004)

1.0 BACKGROUND

1.1 The Inspectorate of Government received a complaint from members of Bugangaizi Settlers Rehabilitation and Development Association (BUSEREDA) dated 14th July 2004, in which they allege that:

(a) They were brutally evicted from Mpokya Sub County in Kabarole District in 1992 and resettled in Bugangazi County in Kibaale District. That they later on sued the Government of Uganda in the High Court seeking for compensation and the case was ruled in their favour on 14th April 2000. That High Court then ordered that each claimant be paid Shs. 12,000,000= (Twelve Million Shillings only) and as a result, the total amount of money to compensate the evictees as per the Court ruling totalled to Shs. 21,000,000= (Twenty one Billion shillings only);

(b) In December 2000, Government released the first instalment for the first 133 evictees to the tune of Shs. 500,000,000= (Five Hundred Million Shillings only). That their Chairperson one Turyamureba Benon Ruhanda misappropriated the money. That the matter was reported to the then Minister of Ethics and Integrity Hon. Mrs. Miria Matembe who summoned Mr. Turyamureba to her office and requested him to produce accountability for the money that had been released. That Mr. Turyamureba failed to produce it. That subsequently, the Minister wrote a letter to the Solicitor General and advised that Mr. Turyamureba should not be given more money on behalf of the claimants, instead the money should be handed over to the new Executive. That as a result of the Minister’s intervention, the new Executive received Shs. 200,000,000= (Two hundred million shillings only) and 500,000,000= which was distributed well to the claimants.

(c) The compensation for another group of 1097 claimants begun in month of November 2003. That, surprisingly a cheque of Shs. 2,500,000= (Two billion five hundred million shillings) was given to the same Turyamureba Benon through Mulenga and Company Advocates contrary to the advice of the Hon Maria Matembe. That, 645 claimants out of 1097 were not paid even a single coin while the rest of the claimants were each paid only Shs. 500,000= (Five hundred thousand shillings).

1.2 That in the month of January 2004, Government released other funds to the tune of Shs. 2,000,000,000= (two billion shillings) which was also received by Mr. Turyamureba Benon through M/S Bashasha and Company Advocates. That again only a few claimants were paid Shs. 400,000= (Four hundred thousand shillings) each instead of the expected payment of Shs. 1,185,000= (One million one hundred and eighty five shillings) each claimant was supposed to get.

1.3 That Government released more funds for this compensation, which was also received by Mr. Turyamureba despite the fact that BUSEREDA management had written a letter to the Solicitor General requesting that the payments to the claimants should not be routed through Mr. Turyamureba. That again, Turyamureba only paid a few claimants Shs. 300,000= yet each claimant was supposed to get Shs. 1,680,000= (One million six hundred and eighty thousand shillings).

1.4 That, the complainants were reliably informed that the Government was about to release another Shs. 3,000,000,000= (Three billion shillings) in August 2004 which they fear will again be handed over to the same Turyamureba to misappropriate.

2.0 OBJECTIVES:

2.1 To establish whether Mpokya evictees sued the Government of Uganda for wrongful eviction in the High Court and the case was ruled in their favour and if so, what were the remedies put forward by the court.

2.2 To establish how much money was released by the Government for compensation of the 133 claimants.

2.3 To establish whether Mr. Turyamureba Benon misappropriated part of the money that was released by Government to compensate the above-mentioned evictees.

2.4 To establish how mush money has been released by Government for compensation of 1097 evictees.

2.5 To establish whether the money government released for the compensation of the said evictees was misappropriated by some individuals.

3.0 SCOPE:

3.1 Investigations shall cover the orders arising from the court judgement and how the funds released for the compensation of the evictees were distributed to the intended recipients.

4.0 METHODOLOGY:

4.1 The following people shall be interviewed:

(a) The Under Secretary Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to establish how much money the Government has so far paid to the evictees as compensation arising from the court judgement.

(b) Mr. Benon Turyamureba, the Attorney for the evictees, regarding how the funds paid by the Government as compensation to the evictees were distributed to intended recipients.

(c) About 100 claimants from various paying centres in Kibaale District and other Districts across the country.

(d) Lawyers who have handled the matter and who have been receiving the money on behalf of the claimants.

(e) Kibaale District Leaders to find out whether they were involved in the exercise and if so to what extent.

(f) Other relevant individuals.
4.2 Retrieve and analyse the following documents;

(a) The relevant court judgements that resulted into the compensation of the evictees to establish how much each claimant was supposed to receive.

(b) All payment vouchers in respect to the compensation of the evictees to find out how much money has so far been paid to that effect and who received it.

(c) Accountability for the money so far paid by the Government in order to find out whether the people that were intended to be paid were the actual recipients of the money.

(d) Lists (original) of the claimants to compare them with the actual lists of recipients as would be reflected in the accountability submitted and any other relevant correspondence(s) regarding the subject matter.

(e) Other relevant documents and information.

5.0 PROGRESS MADE SO FAR:

5.1 The Deputy Inspector General of Government on 15/7/2004 directed us to investigate the matter. He also directed that we should inform the Ministry of Justice accordingly and requested them to halt any pending payment until our investigations were completed. That we request them to submit all relevant documents regarding the matter that was under investigations.

5.2 Consequently, we wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice dated 21.07.04 and informed him as we had been directed. The Under Secretary, Mr. Bafaki responded vide a letter dated 6th August 2004, where he stated that payment could not be halted because that would tantamount to contempt of court order. He submitted some of the documents that we had requested for. We followed up the matter to have all the documents that were required submitted but the Under Secretary did not comply in time prompting us to prepare summons and he was duly served. As a result, he submitted all the documents we needed on 20th August 2004 as was required by the summons.


5.3 Mr. Karemera of Mulenga & Karemera and Co. Advocated was also summoned and directed to bring documents regarding the money their firm had received from the Ministry of Justice for compensation of Mpokya evictees following the High court judgement and the subsequent accountability, i.e. how the funds were distributed amongst claimants. Mr. Nkurunziza reported to our office on behalf of the firm and informed us that one Karemera whom we had summoned was one time a partner in the firm but he died some time back. That he had come to inform us of their firm’s position on the matter under investigations. He presented a copy of a letter that was addressed to the D/IGG dated 18/08/04 and stated that they were barred from discussing the matter without the approval of their client Mr. Turyamureba Benon. In that letter, he quoted Section 125 of the Evidence Act (Cap. 6), which bars Advocates from disclosing transactions of their clients without their approval. He however promised to seek permission from his client Mr. Turyamureba to provide the required documents and information.

5.4 Mr. Nkurunziza wrote another letter to the D/IGG dated 26/8/04 where he stated that, Mr. Turyamureba had instructed them to inform us that, he was willing to report to our office and present the required documents if he was summoned. Mr. Nkurunziza advised us that Mr. Turyamureba Benon should be summoned through their firm. He assured us that they were to deliver the summons to him. Summons for Mr.Turyamureba were prepared and deliver to the firm and were received by Mr. Nkuruzinza himself on behalf of Mr. Turyamureba. According to the summons, Mr. Turyamureba was supposed to report to this office on 7th September 2004. Mr. Nkurunziza promised to pass the summons to Mr. Turyamureba in time and to ensure that he complies accordingly.

5.5 Mr. Turyamureba did not come on the date he was required to report but reported on 15th September 2004 in the company of two UPDF officers namely; Major Rubaramira-Ruranga who claimed to be his brother and Capt. Kabarebe. The Army officers claimed that they had accompanied Mr. Turyamureba to help him discuss the issue he had been summoned to explain because Mr. Turyamureba lost his sight and hence was not able to read. We tried to interview Mr. Turyamureba but he declined to co-operate with us and he refused to hand in the required documents though he had carried them. He advanced the following grounds to support his decision not to co-operate;

(i) That the Inspectorate of Government did not have jurisdiction to investigate the matter because it was a private matter.

(ii) That the matter that was being investigated was already in the High Court therefore, the Inspectorate of Government by law was not supposed to handle any matter in courts of law.

(iii) That before they went to court in 1992, he first approached the Inspectorate of Government for assistance in solving the problem but he was not helped instead they were advised to go to court. That therefore, the institution had no moral authority whatsoever to review the matter at the level of payment of claimants when it declined to help them in the time of need.

(iv) That as an Attorney for 1220 people, he could not discuss the matter and hand in the required documents without the approval of the people he represents.

(v) That he wanted to know the complainants first before he discusses the matter and hand in the required documents.

5.6 We requested him to put his position in writing and he accepted but he insisted to write the statement himself. That he knew better what he wanted to write. Surprisingly, the man the UPDF officers had claimed to be blind wrote his own statement. While writing, Major Rubaramira-Ruranga kept on cautioning him not to write much before consulting the people he represents. Throughout our discussions, Major Rubaramira-Ruranga continued to challenge our mandate to handle the matter, which he continuously referred it as a private matter. Mr. Turyamureba listened to Major Rubaramira-Ruranga and stopped writing the statement.

5.7 Our response to the five grounds advanced by Mr. Turyamureba is as follows:

(i) On the matter of jurisdiction, to handle the matter in question, our view is that the allegations we are investigating involves public officials from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs who were being accused of colluding with Mr. Turyamureba to misappropriate the money that was released for payment of Mpokya evictees. Therefore, we have the mandate to investigate and find out whether the money was received by the genuine claimants not fictitious/ghosts as alleged.

The issue of lack of jurisdiction was also raised while the first complaint HQT 145.2000 (TS 168.2000): Alleged Diversion of 500 millions shillings meant for Bugangaizi Resettlement Scheme, was being handled by the Directorate of Legal. The content of the complaint were that, Mr. Turyamureba Benon had misappropriated 500 million shillings meant for Mpokya evictees. Two of our lawyers (case officers) Mr. Teko and Ms Ruharo reviewed the matter by then and agreed that the Inspectorate of Government had jurisdiction to handle the matter because it involved public funds and also that, the institution had an Ombudsman role/responsibility to help peasants who were allegedly being exploited by Mr. Turyamureba and others. They suggested that the matter should be investigated. Unfortunately, investigations were never concluded.

(ii) The argument that the matter was in court doesn’t hold water because according to Mr. Turyamureba, they sued Government for not paying their compensation promptly, which is different from what we are handling. For us, we are establishing whether the funds that were released for compensation of the claimants had been received by the genuine beneficiaries/claimants. We are not at all interfering in a matter, which is in court as alleged. This argument is subject to legal advice from our Lawyers.

6.0 FINDINGS:

6.1 Records submitted by the Ministry of Justine and Constitutional Affairs revealed that, Government has so far released Shs. 7,754,486,500= as part payment for compensation of the Mpokya evictees as directed by the High Court in the two cases (Ref. No. 192 of 1993, involving 133 claimants and Misc. Application No. 192 of 2000, involving 1097 claimants). The first claimants totalling to 133, were claimed to have been fully paid.


6.2 Shs. 39,600,000= was paid to M/S Nyanzi, Kiboneka and Mbabazi Advocates as judgement creditor and Shs. 39,600,000= was paid to Mr. Turyamureba as attorney fees another 39,600,000= meant for late Amos Agaba and Michael Mawanda (Funding Agents) though released has not been paid because of the legal wrangle going on in court between the two.

6.3 Shs. 6,158,486,500= has so far been released for payment of 1097 in respect to the High Court judgement. The Ministry of justice is about to release 3.6 billion shillings to Mr. Turyamureba Benon for the payment of evictees. The said money is supposed to be released this Financial Year as per the payment schedule agreed upon by the concerned parties.

7.0 OBSERVATIONS/CONCLUSIONS:

7.1 We believe that this institution has an obligation to help/assist the public from being exploited by some individuals and when such an allegation comes up, we need to intervene strongly. It is so unfortunate that the complaint that was received in 2000 was not handled to its conclusion. Otherwise, this problem would have been solved by then and avoided further mismanagement of those funds by Mr. Benon Turyamureba and others.

7.2 Mr. Turyamureba is trying to stop us from carrying out investigations into this matter. He has approached a number of legal firms, which have written to us expressing the opinion that we should not handle the matter for various reasons. This suggests that Mr. Turyamureba is trying to avoid the matter being investigated to bring out the truth, which may not be in his favour.

8.0 The purpose of this brief is therefore, to:

i) Update you on the progress of the case.

ii) Request for your guidance on the jurisdiction claim raised by Benon Turyamureba and his lawyers.

iii) Seek your guidance on whether we should proceed with investigating the case or not, given the circumstances.

P/S. The IGG stated that she had no jurisidiction in 2005 and this was put in registry and the corrupt celebrated.

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