Police charge former minister Kabakumba with theft

Sunday December 18 2011



After resigning her Cabinet job, former Presidency minister Kabakumba Masiko now faces a protracted court battle because the police have forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions the file containing details of four charges they have preferred against her.

The police have also found Information and National Guidance minister Mary Karooro Okurut not culpable in the suspicious sale of an acre of land in Bugolobi that belongs to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
But Ms Kabakumba’s file now awaiting the DPP’s sanction indicates that police investigations found out that the former minister was guilty of abuse of office, theft, causing financial loss and conspiracy.

“The file is with the DPP and next week is when we shall get directions on when she should appear in court,” a police source familiar with the proceedings told Sunday Monitor yesterday even though other sources in the DPP’s office confidentially said there was immense pressure and requests not to sanction the charges.

Ms Kabakumba, who was also in charge of the Kampala Capital City Authority docket, on Wednesday resigned following a fortnight of public and parliamentary pressure for her to quit because she was found illegally using UBC equipment in her private radio station in Masindi District.

According to police, Ms Kabakumba would be joined in the dock by four UBC engineers who were reportedly privy to the controversial transaction between the national public broadcaster and the former minister’s King’s Broadcasting Services.

By using the UBC equipment without paying, the police have estimated the financial loss caused by Ms Kabakumba to be Shs179 million. Part of the evidence against her is a confession by her radio manager and minority shareholder Busingye Harrison Magezi who stated that around May 2007, he applied to UBC to allow him access their mast at Kigulya Hill but did not get a reply.

Part of the confession reads: “…I was advised to make payment for lease application forms for rental facilities/service and return them to UBC.

The confession
“Since the process was likely to take long, I asked Engineer Lugya Sam to allow me access the mast and put up the equipment.

“At first Lugya refused the request but later accepted in the month of July 2011 on mutual understanding, I didn’t make any payment to Eng. Lugya.

“I have been using this transmitter until it was picked by UBC officials. Whatever was happening/taking place, I used to inform my co-director and the last time I informed her that the transmitter was down, she told me I see what do to…”

Mr Magezi has also been charged with causing financial loss contrary to Section 20 (1) of the Anti-corruption Act.

According to a delivery note by UBC, the transmitter plus all other components in it were bought from Italy at a cost of 35,130 Euros (about Shs108.5 million) including freight and insurance.

Asked why they dropped charges against Ms Karooro, the police said only UBC managers would be charged because by the time she made transactions in the land, “she was not holding a public office, therefore; was at liberty to make profit.”

“It was up to government officials to ensure that regulations were followed,” said a senior police source. Ms Karooro was given one acre of UBC land by President Museveni to set up a shoe factory but when she reportedly failed to get money, she sold her interests to Chinese investors.

Police CID chief Grace Akullo yesterday confirmed they had done their part and taken the ball to the DPP’s court.

“Our work is to investigate and forward to the DPP. We have given all the facts to him and he is the one to decide; police is not under any pressure to assist anyone,” she said. Other UBC engineers charged are Sam Batanda, who was reportedly supervising the UBC mast in Masindi but did not report the illegal use of the transmitter, Ibrahim Misango, who was in company of Eng. Lugya the day the transmitter was taken to Kigulya Hill and Eng. Semujju who requisitioned for the transmitter to be taken to Masindi.

According to police, the engineers argue that they did not use the transmitter to start up UBC red channel in Masindi due to lack of frequency. “But there is no evidence that they applied for frequency before they took the transmitter and that means they delivered it for someone else,” Ms Akullo said.