Monday October 3 2011

MP Kiboijana rejects bribe to save Basajjabalaba


An MP on a committee investigating inflated compensations paid to businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba says she is being trailed by suspicious-looking people after she rejected offers of a bribe to influence the inquiry in favour of the businessman.

Ibanda Woman MP Margaret Kiboijana told Daily Monitor in an interview at Parliament yesterday that a Cabinet minister, name withheld, had telephoned her to try and influence her conduct in the investigation.

“He called me at six in the morning and expressed views to the extent that I should not antagonise and harass their person and that I should let him off the hook,” Ms Kiboijana said yesterday.

“They said they could give me anything.” She added: “I asked him if he knew the type of person I am and he answered that he had been told that I stand for the truth and thought he would talk to me.”

Ms Kiboijana said she had decided to speak out after a suspicious-looking car trailed her to her home in Ntinda, and after she discovered suspicious-looking people watching her house. “That’s when I felt that something is wrong.”
She has not reported to the police for lack of compelling evidence of any threat to her life but the MP added, “For sure I am worried.”

Ms Kiboijana said Basajjabalaba’s brother, Nasser, who is also an MP and sits on PAC, had approached her and asked to speak to her in private. He did not give details and the meeting never took place. Ms Kiboijana said when Basajjabalaba appeared before MPs last week, Nasser, who was seated three places away from her, tried to sabotage the hearing.

“He kept heckling me, saying ‘who do you think you are’ until I told the chair to protect me from another Basajjabalaba,” she said.
Mr Nasser Basajjabalaba, the MP for Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality, dismissed Ms Kiboijana’s claims as “total rubbish” and that if she has interests in the case she should make them known before the committee.

“I have never talked with her and why would I want to bribe her?” he asked. “She tried to shut me down during the committee and I felt I should be respected as an MP.” Ms Kiboijana also said Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who is also a member of PAC, had been blocked from assuming the role of lead counsel in the investigation after she shared information with other MPs that Basajjabalaba was one of his campaign financiers.

“I felt I would be doing the committee a disservice if I kept that information to myself because I felt we would be derailed along the way if he stayed as lead counsel. “He did not deny it, really. He only submitted that much as he knew him very closely, he would stay impartial as he had been all along but as members we felt that he had a conflict of interest and we requested that he withdraws his candidature which he reluctantly did.”

When contacted, MP Ssekikubo told this newspaper that Ms Kiboijana’s claims are not true, and that she is being used to divert people’s attention from the important issues that are going on in Parliament.

“When asked if she was aware of any other MPs on PAC who had been approached over the investigation, Ms Kiboijana said: “From the way a few of them are behaving, it is suspicious. That’s all I can say.”