Saturday May 20 2017

Magistrate named in bribe scandal offers to resign, Judiciary refuses

Accused. Nakawa Court Grade Two Magistrate

Accused. Nakawa Court Grade Two Magistrate Agnes Napiyo (right) at the Anti Corruption Court last month. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 


KAMPALA. The Judiciary has rejected requests by Agnes Napiyo, the Nakawa Court Grade Two Magistrate, to resign and have bribery charges against her dropped.
Ms Napiyo’s request was contained in a report of her immediate supervisor, the Chief Magistrate of Nakawa Court.
About a month ago, Magistrate Napiyo was charged before the Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Court over allegations of having received a bribe of Shs1m from Amam Vincent Egesa to reverse a child custody ruling in his favour.
The Chief Registrar, Mr Paul Gadenya, said the Judiciary management had received the request but they “sternly rejected” it.

Mr Gadenya said they instead referred her corruption case to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), a government body mandated with the recruitment and discipline of errant judicial officers.
This means that the investigations by the JSC will go hand-in-hand with the ongoing criminal prosecution before the Anti-Corruption Court.
“In their discussion (discussion between magistrate Napiyo and her immediate supervisor), she requested that the Judiciary writes to the IGG with the aim of dropping the charges against her in exchange of resigning,” Mr Gadenya said on Thursday.
“But we said that matter should be handled by the JSC and have her investigated. Her request can be handled by way of plea bargaining in court, but not administratively,” he added.
The Chief Registrar also informed this newspaper that he has already interdicted magistrate Napiyo as per the Public Service Standing Orders to pave way for her prosecution.
About a month ago, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe clashed with IGG Irene Mulyagonja, whom he said was shielding corrupt judicial officers instead of prosecuting them.
Justice Katureebe gave two scenarios where the IGG arrested two magistrates under different corruption scenarios but pardoned them instead of prosecuting them.
In one of the corruption cases, Justice Katureebe explained that a lawyer called him telling him about a certain magistrate who had asked for Shs3m bribe from peasants to rule a case in their favour.

Katureebe added that the magistrate then warned the peasants that should they fail to raise the Shs3m, his favorable decision would then shift to the side of the rich man who was offering him a bigger bribe of Shs10m.
The Chief Justice said the peasants after a long hustle, managed to painfully raise Shs1.5m and handed it to the magistrate.
But a trap had been laid for the magistrate and who was caught red-handed by the IGG.
Justice Katureebe said he expected the arrested magistrate to be prosecuted in court but somehow, he confessed and pleaded to the IGG to pardon him.
Indeed the IGG pardoned the arrested magistrate but on condition that he resigns from judicial service, which he did with full terminal benefits.

In the second corruption scenario, Katureebe said the IGG arrested another magistrate who had asked for a Shs1m bribe in a traffic case.
However, the IGG did not prosecute the magistrate reasoning that she could only prove the bribery of only Shs250,000 and yet the money that she would use in prosecuting the case was in millions which would not make economic sense.
Following the above scenarios that saw the arrested magistrates go off the hook easily, a source within the Judiciary that preferred not to be named, said the management of the Judiciary is now taking every corruption case seriously in a bid to fight the widespread corruption.