The Anti-Corruption Court has ruled that former board chairperson of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Geoffrey Onegi-Obel has a case to answer regarding the bungled Nsimbe Housing Project.
Judge Margaret Tibulya yesterday said the evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient to put Mr Onegi-Obel on trial.
“I have perused the prosecution evidence and defence submissions and I have formed a view that there are some explanations that have to be made by the accused (Mr Onegi-Obel),” ruled Judge Tibulya. “You are therefore put on defence…” she added.
Having a case to answer does not mean Mr Obel is guilty but means the charges against him are not far-fetched and therefore require him to defend himself. It means that court can rely on such evidence to convict the accused if he decided not to give his defence.
However, Mr Obel was not ready to make his defence. The case was adjourned to July 10 for the hearing.
Prosecution says Mr Onegi-Obel between 2003 and 2005, while board chair of NSSF floated, on behalf of NSSF, an illegal private business firm, Premier Developments Ltd, as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which he and others used to enter a joint venture for a housing project with Mugoya Estates, a private company.
Prosecution further claims the joint venture was made without competitive bidding and the project cost was inflated.
The excess money paid to Mugoya Estates was more than Shs5 billion.
This was after the ministry of Works, assessed the developments at Nsimbe and found the work done was worth Shs1.2 billion yet Mugoya had received Shs6.8 billion.
Mr Onegi-Obel was initially charged with Mr Leonard Mpuuma, former MD for NSSF and former Labour minister Zoe Bakoko Bakoru who is now in exile and businessman James Isabirye. However, in March 2008, the charges against Mr Mpuuma were dropped after he pleaded guilty to causing a financial loss of Shs100 million and was fined.